Jul 20, 2017

What’s up Barracuda fans? Nick Nollenberger here. It’s another week, which means it’s time for another blog. First, I apologize for not putting anything out last Thursday. I was on a cruise ship sailing to Mexico, fully intending on posting the blog, I even managed to get away from the pool for a bit to write the darn thing, only to realize the internet which cost $18 per day went from slow to unusable.

Aside from the Internet, I don’t have a single complaint. The trip was amazing. 2,600 guests were aboard the ship that sailed from Long Beach Harbor to Cabo San Lucas, to Mazatlan, to Puerto Vallarta and back to Long Beach over seven days. The true miracle on the Carnival Miracle was that after eating, and eating, and eating, and oh yeah eating (Plus a couple of cervezas), I didn’t gain a single pound during the vacation (I know this won’t last forever, so I’m going to enjoy it for now). I’ll have to check the record books, but it may be a first in cruise ship history.

Hands down, the best part of the vacation was the quality time I was able to spend with my family, away from distraction. My twin brother, Dax, who was on the trip works for the Cleveland Browns as a Scouting Assistant and can only get back home to California once a year. Before this visit, I hadn’t seen him in 11 months. We both understand the grueling schedule that is pro sports, so we really try to take advantage of our time together. The trip was a perfect environment to do just that. Fortunately, the Barracuda will take on the Cleveland Monster in late October, so I won’t have to wait as long this time around to see him.

Ok, ok, enough with my vacation, back to hockey. A lot has happened over the last week while I was gone. The Sharks signed goaltender Josef Korenar and forward Rudolf Balcers. Plus, the Barracuda signed forward Alex True, all of whom participated in the Sharks Development Camp a couple of weeks ago. Let’s start with Korenar, the 19-year-old Czech goaltender who spent last season in the USHL with the Lincoln Stars, impressed all week. He was already on San Jose’s radar during the draft, but I believe his play during camp solidified the organizations feeling about him. I asked several people during the week who stood out the most, and almost every single one said Korenar. He’ll compete for the backup role with the Barracuda, behind Troy Grosenick, next season. Now onto Balcers… from the hop, Rudolfs stood out to me. He showed off a plethora of skills in almost every on-ice test, and he even carried that into the prospect game in which he buried a goal from the high-slot with a slick cutback move. I expect him to contribute quickly with the Barracuda next season. Balcers was a fifth round pick by the Sharks in 2014 out of Latvia. Last year was his first in North America with the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL. Now onto Alex True from the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. You can’t talk about the center without talking about his size. At 6-foot-5, True is huge, and the Sharks and Barracuda hope that as he evolves, he’ll grow into his frame and continue to develop his game. From what I saw of True, he can skate for a guy his size, and he has some real natural hockey instincts that will serve him well at the pro level. Think Buddy Robinson when you think of True. It took Buddy a couple of years to become a pro, expect the same with True.

Now that the draft, free agency, and development camp has all concluded, things will slow down a bit in the next couple of weeks and throughout August, except for a few more player signings. The next thing on tap will be training camp and the rookie tournament, which will be held in San Jose in September. Should be fun, and I’m looking forward to another great season with a plethora of fresh faces calling San Jose home. Once again, the Barracuda are expected to be one of the youngest teams in the AHL next season.

For now, I say so long and enjoy your weekend. All the best, Nick!

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