The San Jose Sharks trimmed their roster by nine players just nine days ahead of the start of the 2015-16 NHL season on Monday, Sept. 28. CSN Bay Area Insider Kevin Kurz also reported that Frazer McLaren will be waived in anticipation of sending him back to the AHL.
The moves pictured with a caption summary of where that player stands with the franchise are examined below for what they collectively say about San Jose’s remaining roster battles. The roster will likely face one more blue-line cut and two more forwards reassigned before the season-opening tilt of the 2015-16 NHL season against the Pacific Division rival Los Angeles Kings Oct. 7.
Any doubt about which goalies would be carried was removed by these moves Monday, since only Alex Stalock and Martin Jones remain. It was expected that neither would be unseated by San Jose Barracuda goalies Aaron Dell and Troy Grosenick, but the AHL platoon was impressive enough to think they could handle an emergency role on the 2015-16 NHL season.
Karl Stollery, Mark Cundari and Gus Young were blue-line casualties reassigned to the Barracuda. Forwards Bryan Lerg, Micheal Haley, John McCarthy and Ryan Carpenter joined them, while Timo Meier was sent to juniors.
Including the safe assumption that McLaren gets waived (regardless of whether he clears and is reassigned or he is taken by another team), that leaves 16 forward and eight blue-line Sharks battling to make the final 21 active skating spots. Ten forward and five blue-line roles are also already set, creating a pretty intense logjam for what is left.
Moreover, Melker Karlsson is almost a lock to make one of San Jose’s remaining dressed forward roles since he was effective enough to get top-line action in the 2014-15 NHL season. If Raffi Torres and Mike Brown are healthy, they either have to be active or waived and probably grab at least the two scratched roles if not actual ice time on the fourth line.
That leaves only one more active forward. Every player battling for a spot will probably see time on the 2015-16 NHL season, but which will be one of the Sharks on the opening-night roster against the Pacific Division-rival Kings?
There might be more reason to make either Brown or Torres active for the first two games since their edge could be in demand against rivals like Los Angeles and the three-time Pacific Division champion Anaheim Ducks in the home-opening game Oct. 10. Barclay Goodrow does not need as much playing time to develop and his experience give him the edge at getting a scratched spot to start the 2015-16 NHL season, but the real roster may not be determined until San Jose goes on its Eastern Conference road trip in the second week.
Nikolay Goldobin has the offensive potential the Sharks would love to have on their daily roster. However, Joonas Donskoi has played too well to this point not to get that last spot and needs development too much to be a scratch. He will be in the lineup most of the time, leaving the others to take up reserve roles in the press box and minor leagues. Chances are there is no need to go beyond those 16 forwards for more than a few games.
Meanwhile, there is less drama surrounding the final blue-line roles. Every indication is that Dylan DeMelo is going to take the sixth active spot since he has been effective in that role. The skilled right-handed rookie provides balance with the more defensively-minded left-handed veteran Brenden Dillon.
Matt Tennyson needs regular play the least because he is the oldest and thus has the least development necessitating regular play. He is also on a one-way contract for the 2015-16 NHL season and is thus almost certain to be San Jose’s blue-line scratch most nights.
That leaves Mirco Mueller to be sent down to the Barracuda to work on his game further. However, he may get as much playing time as Tennyson because he is likely to dress if there is a significant enough injury to call him up.
Again there should be few games that require going beyond the eighth spot on the blue-line depth chart. Younger players will have a chance to develop with the Barracuda and be more capable of contributing as the injuries accrue over the 2015-16 NHL season.
Thus, Monday’s moves pretty much leave those following the Sharks with a good picture of the roster that will provide the vast majority of games played on the 2015-16 NHL season. The coaches can now focus on the remaining players over the last week and three preseason games to see exactly what role those regulars attain.