Multiple reports suggest that Sharks winger Raffi Torres could miss at least six weeks, and possibly up to four months, with a potential ACL tear he sustained in a collision with Ducks forward Emerson Etem in the Sharks' 3-2 overtime loss to Anaheim in preseason action Friday night. GM Doug Wilson is likely to provide a further update on the extent of Torres' injury and his timetable for a return following a full diagnosis in the coming days.
In the meantime, Torres' injury opens up space for a number of Sharks prospects to potentially push for a spot in the opening night lineup. If Tomas Hertl wasn't already guaranteed a roster spot, he surely is now while left wing Matthew Nieto could very well end up taking Torres' place on the team's third line with Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels. Freddie Hamilton has earned Todd McLellan's attention in camp and could have an outside shot at filling Torres' skates, although it's more likely he makes the team as its fourth-line right wing should Adam Burish's "bumps and bruises" remain.
It's also possible the Sharks look outside the organization for forward depth, although navigating the salary cap and contract limit minefields could prove to be tricky. Until they place Martin Havlat on long-term injury reserve, San Jose will remain about $1 million over the cap's upper limit (a bit less so when discounting the bonus cushion). They're also technically over the 50-contract limit although Mirco Mueller and Chris Tierney's deals sliding when the prospects are sent back to the CHL would give the Sharks the wiggle room to sign one more player. If they're able to clear the requisite cap space, veteran forward Anthony Stewart, who has been participating in training camp on a professional tryout, likely has the inside track to a contract although that might not be the best idea since he isn't very good.
Mason Raymond, who has been kicking around Maple Leafs camp on a PTO but might not be signed by that team given the fact that Toronto's cap crunch just got cap crunchier in the aftermath of last night's brawl, doesn't replace Torres' size or tenacity but does bring much of the speed and depth scoring the Sharks will be losing with Torres on the shelf. Old friend Kyle Wellwood has an out clause in his contract with a Swiss team while longtime Flyers winger Simon Gagne remains on the sidelines, both of whom would also make fine additions to San Jose's third line if internal solutions don't work out. With Havlat also out for the start of the year, the Sharks go from potentially icing their deepest forward corps in years to one with a third line that features Pavelski between an ideal fourth liner in Tommy Wingels and a player the organization would prefer get more AHL seasoning in Nieto.