Jun 14, 2024

About Nolly: Nick Nollenberger aka "Nolly" has been the voice of the Barracuda since 2016-17. Over his time with the team, the Santa Curz, Ca. native and San Jose Jr. Sharks alum, has called over 500 games and made his NHL regular-season debut with the Sharks on Nov. 17, 2024 at Anaheim, filling in for the Hall of Famer Dan Rusanowsky.

Hello, Cuda Country! I hope you are well. Today is June 14, and we are just 16 Macklin Celebrini days away from the 2024 NHL Draft in Vegas. Speaking of Celebrini, happy birthday to the projected first-overall pick who turned 18 on Thursday.

While the Sharks are expected to add several talented young prospects to the pool later this month, as I mentioned in an earlier blog this summer, my wife and I are expecting our first child in the fall. So, we’ll be adding a top prospect ourselves. On Sunday, we officially found out the gender—we’re having a girl! #GirlDad. I was impartial and excited for whatever we got. My wife would have been happy with a boy, but she definitely let it slip a few times that she wanted a girl. As they say, happy wife, happy life.

With Father’s Day coming up on Sunday, I want to be the first to wish all the dads out there a happy Father’s Day. My dad has been so influential in my life, especially when it comes to my love for sports and broadcasting. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

I’m writing this week’s blog from Phoenix at my dad’s house. We’re here for the weekend to celebrate. Every day is expected to be over 100°, so I will not be leaving the pool. I know it’s a hard life, but somebody has got to live it.

Father’s Day got me thinking about some of the best father-son duos in NHL history. There have been many, maybe more so than in any other sport. For the sake of time, I ranked my top four in no particular order:

The Howes: Gordie (father); Mark (son), Marty (son) It’s hard to think of father-son duos and not think of the Howes. Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, played five decades and held many of the NHL’s biggest records when he finally hung up the skates. Mark Howe is a Hockey Hall of Famer like his father. All three played together in the NHL with the Hartford Whalers and, before that, with the World Hockey Association’s (WHA) Houston Aeros.

The Hulls: Bobby (father); Brett (son) Both Hockey Hall of Famers, Bobby and Brett are the only father-son combo to score 50 goals in a season and 600+ in their careers. Between the duo, they have three Stanley Cups.

The Patricks: Lester (father); Lynn (son), Muzz (son); Craig (grandson) The Patricks were long before my time, but it’d be hard to think of the modern game and not think of this family. Lester was a player, coach, and executive and was instrumental in many of the rules in the sport that remain today. On top of that, he was the first GM and coach of the New York Rangers in 1926.

The Tkachuks: Keith (father); Matthew (son), Brady (son) Matt and Brady are two of the premier power forwards in the NHL. Matt’s Florida Panthers are on the cusp of a Stanley Cup (up 2-0 on Edmonton) and Brady is the captain of the Ottawa Senators, being given the “C” at just 22. Keith is a U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer, having played over 1,200 games and scoring over 500 goals and 1,000 points.

Back in 2021, when Jonathan Dahlen made his NHL debut with the Sharks, he and his dad Ulf became the first known father-son duo to have both played for the Sharks.

Congratulations to Ryan Warsofsky, who was named the 11th head coach in Sharks history on Thursday. The 36-year-old won a Calder Cup as the bench boss of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves in 2022, and his brother, David, won a National Championship with Barracuda head coach John McCarthy at Boston University in 2009.

The Calder Cup Finals are set to begin tonight (June 14) in Hershey, PA, at the Giant Center. It’s a rematch of last year between the Coachella Valley Firebirds and Hershey Bears, marking the first time in 33 years we’ll see a rematch in the finals. While the Firebirds find themselves back in the championship series in their second year of existence, it’s Hershey’s 25th trip to the final dance. A year ago, Hershey won game 7 in overtime.

In the Stanley Cup Finals, the Florida Panthers pushed the Edmonton Oilers to the brink of elimination with a 4-3 win on Thursday at Rogers Place in Edmonton. Only the 1942 Maple Leafs have come back to erase a 3-0 deficit in the Finals. The hockey fan in me hopes the Oilers can push it to game 5 just so we can have a bit more hockey. No one likes a sweep (except if it’s your team doing it).

The Sharks announced an affiliate renewal with the Wichita Thunder earlier today for the upcoming 2024-25 season, securing a third campaign as its ECHL affiliate. Nine different players spent time between the Barracuda and Thunder in 2023-24, and Magnus Chrona and Georgi Romanov played games at three levels (NHL/AHL/ECHL). The Thunder have been great partners over the last two seasons, and renewing the affiliation for the upcoming year is an important step for the organization’s development model. I’ve heard nothing but good things from the players who have spent there.

"We’re excited to be back in Wichita for another season," said Sharks Assistant General Manager and San Jose Barracuda (AHL) General Manager Joe Will. "With such a heavy emphasis on scouting and development in the Sharks organization, our ECHL affiliation is critical to our player development plan. Under the leadership of Bruce Ramsey and Joel Lomurno, we are confident that our prospects will be given the tools to develop."

On Tuesday, the Sharks placed forward Nathan Todd on unconditional waivers for the purpose of contract termination, allowing him to pursue a playing opportunity in Russia. Todd led the Barracuda in scoring (55), assists (36), tied-first in power-play goals (6), and second in shots (185) this past season, the best year of his career. At 28, and not yet having reached the NHL, it’s not out of the norm for a player to want to go overseas. For guys who are “tweeners” between the NHL and AHL, it can be more lucrative to play in Europe. Todd was a great guy and I really enjoyed being around him this past season. Always tough to see guys go, but it’s a business after all. Todd’s contract frees up another contract slot for the Sharks, and now San Jose sits with 32 contracts, 18 away from the maximum. I would suspect the Sharks will add a couple of veterans during free agency that can help the Cuda and, if in a pinch, could go up and play some games for the big club.

Since we last spoke, the Barracuda added two more rearguards for next season. The club re-signed Ethan Frisch after a solid rookie campaign in which he led the team in plus-minus (+17). And they inked Memorial Cup Champion Braden Haché for the upcoming year.

Frisch and Jérémie Bucheler were the only right-shot blueliners on the Barracuda at the end of the season who are still with the team. Jake Furlong, who is expected to be with the Cuda next season, is a left-shot who can play both sides. Jack Thompson was up with the Sharks at the end of the year but is also a right-shot defenseman.

As I noted in the press release, Haché, 20, capped off his final season of junior hockey on June 3 by captaining the host Saginaw Spirit to their first Memorial Cup Championship in franchise history, 4-3, over the London Knights. Saginaw is just the fifth U.S. winner in the 104-year history of the Memorial Cup and the first since 2008. During the regular season, Haché skated in 65 games with the Spirit, collecting 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists), 89 penalty minutes, and a plus-27 rating. Additionally, he skated in 15 playoff games, posting seven points (one goal, six assists), 21 penalty minutes, and a plus-nine rating.

Haché was drafted by Florida in the seventh round in 2021 (#210th overall) but did not sign with the Cats. His signing with the Cuda reminds me of another player, a former OHLer, who was selected in the draft at the exact same spot (210th overall) seven years prior, went unsigned by the team that drafted him, but inked a deal with the Barracuda and worked his way to the NHL where he’s now a regular—Jake Middleton. If the Sharks have another Midds on their hands, I’d think the organization would be beyond thrilled.

Barracuda general manager Joe Will was in Buffalo last week for the NHL’s Scouting Combine, and I had a chance to catch up with him over Zoom. The full interview can be found below. We talk about the upcoming draft, this past season, the Cuda coaches returning, and more.

We wrap up this week’s edition of Nolly’s Notes by doing some more Pacific-Division-bookkeeping. The Abbotsford Canucks named former Sharks forward Manny Malhotra as their third coach in franchise history. Malhotra replaces Jeremy Colliton, who held the position the last two years. Thanks for reading and I'll talk to you all in a couple of weeks.

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