NOLLY'S NOTES - BLOG #13Apr 19, 2022
Hello, Cuda Country. I can’t believe it but we’re officially down to just a week remaining in the regular season. From a win-loss standpoint, this has been a trying year, there’s no beating around it, but the beauty of the AHL is wins and losses aren’t all the ingredients in the cake. In the end, development is the most important thing. Despite the record, I think we’ll look back at this year as a developmental success. Sometimes adversity provides the most growth and the most opportunities for young players. That has certainly been the case for both the Sharks and the Barracuda.
On Sunday, the Sharks took one of the top teams in the NHL the Minnesota Wild to overtime with a roster that included eight rookies. Center Thomas Bordeleau made his NHL debut and was flanked by Rudolfs Balcers and Noah Gregor, picking up an assist on a Balcers first-period goal. After playing in a pair of games with the Barracuda last week, Bordeleau inked his first NHL deal on Saturday before appearing in Sunday’s road finale. On Tuesday, Bordeleau made his home debut with the Sharks and picked up another assist in a win over Columbus.
We saw Bordeleau get his first taste of pro last Wednesday and Friday with the Barracuda and we'll see two other touted prospects do the same in the team’s final three games. The Sharks officially assigned winger Daniil Gushchin from the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL and defenseman Gannon Laroque from the Victoria Royals of the WHL to the Barracuda. Both players are expected to draw into the 'Cuda lineup tonight in Bakersfield.
After a pair of seasons in the USHL with the Muskegon Lumberjacks, Gushchin notched 71 points (41 goals, 30 assists) in 51 games with the IceDogs this year, doubling his closest teammate in goals and finishing 22 points ahead of the team’s second-leading scorer. When the Sharks traded up for the winger in the third round of the 2020 draft, as part of a nine-forward class, Doug Wilson Jr. said he was just too good to pass up.
“We really did not want to move back up into the draft. Our goal was to continue to move down. But at some point, when you get a player of that caliber, it’s worth more than two picks. With Daniil, he was just one of 3-4 guys who we highlighted, if they get past a certain threshold, we got to try to find a way to get him.”
“We really did not want to move back up into the draft. Our goal was to continue to move down. But at some point, when you get a player of that caliber, it’s worth more than two picks.
Laroque was just drafted last year in the fourth round (103rd overall) and might just be the organization’s most improved prospect since he was selected. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound blueliner finished tenth in the WHL in scoring among defensemen, collecting 52 points (10 goals, 42 assists) in 63 games. Laroque is expected to return back to junior next year but being in the AHL for the next week will be great for his development.
Because of the recent recalls, coupled with a few injuries, the Barracuda were forced to sign two players to professional tryouts from the Orlando Solar Bears on Tuesday, forward Tyler Bird and defenseman Luke McInnis. In addition, the team recalled defender Cole Moberg from the Solar Bears. The Barracuda are just one player shy from reaching 50 players deployed this year which would set a new team record.
We wrap up this week’s edition of Nolly’s Notes talking about where we’ll be this upcoming weekend, the Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, NV. The Henderson Silver Knights officially christened its brand-new 5,567 arena on April 2 against the Bakersfield Condors. The home of both the Silver Knights and the Vegas Knight Hawks (IFL) cost $84 million to construct, is 200,000-square-feet, and took about two years to build. With the Barracuda’s future home Tech CU Arena opening in August and the Coachella Firebirds beginning its inaugural season next year in the brand-new Acrisure Arena, the Pacific Division will have three brand-new barns next year at its disposal. That’s almost unprecedented.
A reminder, we’re on the air on Wednesday in Bakersfield at 6 p.m. with Cuda Countdown on the Sharks Audio Network, sjbarracuda.com/listen and you can watch on AHLTV.com. That’ll do it for this edition of Nolly’s Notes, thanks for reading and I’ll talk to you all next week.