The season is just around the corner (never really understood that phrasing, as time is linear and all), and we thought it would be great to give you a quick rundown on the roster, with a little blurb on each player. If you feel like we've covered this before, well, we have. But we're going to expand on it a little, include the stories that we've written on the players over the past year and give our input on what we expect next season. We don't know exactly how the lines will shake out yet, but here's what WTC gave us for Sunday's game against Phoenix.
Final cuts on Tuesday. God save us all.
#20 / Goalie / San Jose Sharks
Jul 25, 1975
Our two cents:
Evgeni Nabokov would be the first to tell you that he had a less than stellar season and post season in 2008-2009, two uncharacteristic things for him. First, it's uncharacteristic that he'd even take some of the responsibility for his mistakes, as he's always been one to pass the blame. Second, this was one of the worst statistical seasons in an otherwise stellar career.
The former Calder Trophy winner has had his ups and downs in San Jose, but for the first time he seems to be owning up for his recent mistakes. It remains to be seen if that will in any way affect his game, but it's notable none the less.
Although this may be one of his first "poor" seasons, it's unknown if he will rebound in 2009-2010. Most signs point to an improvement, mostly because this is a contract year for him. Most players in the last year of their contract experience a boost in play knowing that future money is on the line. However, recent injury trouble (groin) has left many wondering if he'll be able to provide the same acrobatic saves he's become known for in the past. In addition, he's shown a propensity to allow weak goals, and that's a trend that will have to stop if the Sharks plan on having success with Nabokov in net. He won't be getting any help from his surrounding cast, either. Even though the team as a whole is much improved, the defensive will rely on at least one rookie and an unproven Huskins. Nabokov will probably see an increase in the number of pucks flying his way. Also, with the shaky (at best) Griess as the backup, Nabokov will be depended on to play big minutes. Even though he's no stranger to logging ice time, he's not 25 anymore. Can he handle the workload pushing 35?
This will be a "put up or shut up" season for Nabokov. He's going to have to have a big year to win back some of the confidence that has been lost in him over the last few years. Here's hoping he does.
#1 / Goalie / San Jose Sharks
Jan 29, 1986
2008-2009 Stats (Worcester Sharks)
Our two cents:
The issue of not having a proven veteran goaltender behind Evgeni Nabokov is going to be a definite question mark going forward this season- as we mentioned above, Nabby is hitting the age where riding him for 65+ games a year is only going to decrease his effectiveness. Can Thomas Greiss be expected to hold up under this workload?
His future with the organization depends on it.
Admittedly the preseason is a small sample size, but from what we observed, Greiss may be a liability in net. The post to post quickness you'd expect from a young goaltender isn't quite there yet, his puck playing ability will never draw comparisons to Marty Turco (to say the least), and it seemed as if he was fighting the puck on the majority of shots he faced. Goaltending is such a difficult position to play, and the mental game is just as much (if not more) important in achieving success- if you don't have balls you're never going to make it in net at the NHL level, and these past two weeks, Greiss has looked tentative.
Basing an entire preview of a player on a handful of preseason games is laughable almost, but it's the material we have to work with. As Plank mentioned earlier, he would like to see San Jose's backup get roughly 24 starts this season for two reasons: a) it keeps Nabokov fresh for the playoffs and b) it will allow Doug Wilson to make an informed decision on the goaltender of the future. Utilizing Greiss in the same role Ron Wilson did in 2007-2008 will do nothing positive for the organization.
Here's to hoping we caught him on some bad nights and Greiss proves us wrong.
#0 / Goalie / San Jose Sharks
Jul 28, 1987
2008-2009 Stats (University of Minnesota-Duluth)
Our two cents:
Stalock had a fantastic final season in college, posting a career best save % of .924. He's solid positionally, and was impressive in short stints with San Jose in training camp.
The problem with having so much goaltending depth (Karlsson-Griess-Stalock-Sateri-Sexsmith, in no particular order), is that a player has to be near perfect to get any attention. Even though Stalock had a good season last year, he's going to have to perform better than Sexsmith in Worcester in order to have a chance of cracking San Jose's roster. As it stands now, the two young goalies will be splitting starts in the AHL, but expect the more impressive one to have the majority of the starts going forward.
#31 / Goalie / San Jose Sharks
Mar 19, 1989
Previous FTF Coverage: NHL Season Preview: 2009-2010 San Jose Sharks (Mr. Plank), A Week in Review (Mr. Plank), Observations from Teal and White 2009 (Mr. Plank/TCY), Heatley Finds a Home (Mr. Plank), UFA of the Day: Brian Boucher (Mr. Plank)
2008-2009 Stats (Vancouver Giants - WHL)
Our two cents:
After watching Sexsmith play in the pre-season, FTF knows why there is so much hype around the 20 year old goaltender. He was easily the most impressive of the goalies, moving quickly from post to post and displaying a quick glove hand. He's not a pure butterfly guy, but he dropped to the pads well. Only Petrecki was able to put one past him, but Sexsmith was heavily screened and had little chance on the play. He also had the poise that only someone with a name like his could have.
Even though he was the best of the goalies, he's in the same boat as Petrecki and Couture (who along with Sexsmith, are far and away the Sharks top prospects). He needs professional experience, but won't supplant Nabokov. Since Greiss will only get around 8-10 starts barring significant injury to Nabby, it's better that Sexsmith plays heavy minutes in Worcester instead of getting the rare spot starts against the Phoenix's of the world. If Sexsmith impressed as predicted, he'll get the majority of the starts in the AHL. If Greiss struggles, don't be surprised if it's Sexsmith who gets called up.