For the first time in ages, San Jose can claim a very good American Hockey League affiliate. The Barracuda are a dangerous team on both ends of the ice, with goaltending sticking out as the only true weakness of the team in the first two months of the season
San Jose is stocked with prospects, even after recent call-ups, as the likes of Nikolay Goldobin, Timo Meier, Tim Heed and Mirco Mueller pop off the page while skimming through the Barracuda roster. I got a chance to see the ‘Cuda for the first time on Saturday night and was very impressed by what Roy Sommer has cooking down in the AHL.
Based on that limited viewing experience and a healthy heaping of stats, let’s take a look at five standout players from the Barracuda as we prepare to accept December’s chilly embrace. I’m only including players who have played at least 10 games with the ‘Cuda. Sorry Kevin Labanc.
5. Rourke Chartier
Drafted: 5th round, 2014
Why I like him: Chartier centers the Barracuda’s top line and has been impressive while doing so. He has nine points (five goals and four assists) in 14 games, including two power play tallies, and looks like a suitable option for San Jose’s bottom six in the future.
4. Timo Meier
Drafted: 1st round, 2015
Position: Right wing
Why I like him: Despite being sidelined with mono for the first month of the season, Meier piled up 10 points in his first 12 games as a professional. Beyond that, his hockey sense is magnificent and he plays a wonderful two-way game. The Sharks are just waiting for the right time to give him a call.
3. Nikolay Goldobin
Drafted: 1st round, 2014
Why I like him: Goldobin could make a case for being the most underrated prospect in the Sharks’ system. Every bit of praise given to Goldobin is couched with some sort of criticism. Some of it is warranted and some of it comes simply because he was born in the “wrong country.” The NHL is deeply afraid of putting a fun product on the ice, which is probably why Goldobin feels so far from the NHL.
The reality is that anyone who can score at a nearly point per game clip (.93) at the AHL level deserves a call up. Especially when you’re only 21. The Sharks need goals. They need Goldobin.
No. 2 Tim Heed
Drafted: Free agent signing.
Why I like him: Heed, a former Ducks draft pick, has a hell of a shot and his .93 points per game as a defender boosted his value over the first two months of the campaign. He has 13 points (4 goals, 9 assists) and looks competent in his own end of the ice. If the Sharks need to call up a defender, it should be Heed.
No. 1 Daniel O’Regan
Drafted: 5th round, 2012
Why I like him: O’Regan saw his stock rise quicker than everyone not named Kevin Labanc during the early part of this AHL season. The Boston University product has already seen NHL action, albeit only one game, and he leads the ‘Cuda with 16 points in 14 games. He struggled in his only NHL action while playing on the fourth line, but O’Regan has gone from an afterthought to a player who just might have a future in the NHL.
Who cares what I think? Exactly. Rank ‘em yourself: