2022-23 Sharks Preview: Can forward depth make up for lack of high-end talent?
Mike Grier is playing a numbers game — but will the team find the perfect balance of quality and quantity?
The San Jose Sharks forward group in the Mike Grier era is a much deeper group than in years past. While composed of more proven NHL players than in previous seasons, few of those players have much room for tangible growth. Still, it’s a new day in San Jose, and basically every roster spot is up for grabs, as everyone came into camp with a clean slate.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t lingering questions from last season. Timo Meier will be looking to cash in on a contract year with a potential career-best season ahead. Kevin Labanc is hoping to bounce back from a shoulder injury that ended what was one of the worst seasons of his career. Young players like William Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau and Jasper Weatherby are hopeful to win NHL jobs this year, while players like Nick Bonino and Matt Nieto might be on the way out if the season turns for the worst.
The Sharks have several questions after the top line, but if players like Labanc and Oskar Lindblom can recapture former success, the scoring depth will help make up for the loss of Brent Burns on the blueline. While this team isn’t going to blow anyone away offensively, they are competent NHL players who will be less likely to make some of the rookie mistakes that have plagued the team in recent years.
We’ll take a look at every forward, where they need to improve and how this season might play out if they do.
Current Age: 28
Last season: 70 GP, 10 G, 29 A
Contract: 2 years, $2.5 million AAV
After being swapped at the 2021 NHL trade deadline for Antti Suomela (Suo hive stand up), Barabanov quickly made an impression in his nine-game sample size, scoring seven points on a tanking Sharks team. He responded to all the questions about his sample size by putting up career numbers playing alongside Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl last season. Barabanov’s vision and passing ability helped to solidify the Sharks' top line and he was rewarded with a two-year, $2.5 million contract early this off-season.
Offensively, Barabanov has proven that he can contribute when given the opportunity. His 39 points ranked fourth among Sharks forwards last season, but he was also given the fourth-most time on ice. Entering his age-28 season, Barabanov has to prove that he will continue to find the next level of his game.
While no one is expecting Barabanov to be a Selke candidate, more consistency in his own zone would be a big step toward rounding out his game. Barabanov would be more of middle-six player on a playoff-caliber team, but he is going to continue to get top-six minutes with the Sharks and should take on a larger role in crunch-time moments. The winger is interesting because his skill set doesn’t match prototypical middle-six players (which is a whole different conversation on “Why not just ice good players?”).
Is he the hockey version of the mid-player putting up points on a bad team, as seen in basketball — or has Barabanov found his niche on this team, where his skill set works with his linemates, and allows him to take advantage of his opportunities? This season will be telling under new head coach David Quinn.
This season will be a success for Alexander Barabanov if he solidifies his top-six role for the foreseeable future — a short-term solution that will allow for the prospect pool to continue to develop. If he can work on becoming a positive-impact defensive forward and earn more ice time at critical moments, it will set him up for a future when higher ceiling prospects will start to draw into the line-up, pushing him down to a third-line role. Barabanov should be looking at another 40-50 point season if he is playing with Meier and Hertl for the majority of the time.
This season will be unsuccessful for Barabanov if he cannot repeat his offensive output and is forced into different roles on the team that he is unprepared for.
Current Age: 34
Last season: 80 GP, 16 G, 10 A
Contract: 1 year, $2.05 million AAV
Signing a two-year, $4.1 million contract last off-season, Nick Bonino finally came home to the team that drafted him all those years ago. He quickly stepped into the hole that had been the third-line center and was one of the Sharks' major penalty-killers last season — second in shorthanded time on ice among forwards, behind just Logan Couture. At the end of the season, he was moved to Couture’s wing to allow rookie Thomas Bordeleau to play third-line center, and was effective in that time, scoring five goals in eight games.
Bonino was signed last off-season because he wanted to continue to play center and the Sharks had a clear need for a third-line center, but he was much more effective offensively playing on Couture’s wing last year. The Sharks also don’t have a clear option at 3C, as Bordeleau will most likely start the season with the San Jose Barracuda and Nico Sturm is more of a fourth-line center. Will Quinn look to use Bonino as a third-line pivot and hopefully surround him with more offensively capable players than Matt Nieto and Andrew Cogliano? Or will Quinn try to recapture some of the magic we saw between Couture and Bonino?
Bonino is in the last year of his contract and if/when San Jose is out of playoff contention, he should be traded to a playoff contender that is looking to shore up secondary scoring, adding another penalty killer and strong faceoff man. Andrew Cogliano was dealt to the Colorado Avalanche for a fifth-round draft pick in 2024, so the asking price for Bonino should be around a fourth-round pick, assuming he doesn’t hit a wall this season.
Nick Bonino will probably start the season as a third-line center, but he shouldn’t get too comfortable there. As soon as Thomas Bordeleau shows that he is ready for the role, he should be inserted into the line-up. Bonino’s days as a capable center are probably behind him, but he can still be an effective winger who can slide into the middle for short periods of time as needed — a great quality to have in depth forwards on a stacked (read: not the Sharks) team. Bonino should be around a 25-point player again this year and will most likely be playing in the playoffs wearing a different sweater.
Current Age: 20
Last season: 8 GP, 0 G, 5 A
Contract: 2 years, $916,667 AAV (ELC)
Following the end of his season with the University of Michigan, Thomas Bordeleau signed a PTO to play with the AHL’s Barracuda. Three games later, he signed his entry-level contract, finishing the season with the Sharks, where he successfully ended the Vegas Golden Knights’ season and earned the nickname Knight Slayer.
Bordeleau is going into camp to try to make the NHL and will be one of the most intriguing storylines during the preseason. After making his debut, he played 15:35 minutes per game last year and helped to propel a fun third line with Rudolfs Balcers and Noah Gregor. Bordeleau still has some work to do to become an everyday NHL player — such as being more consistent in his own zone — but does provide a lot of creativity in the offensive zone. He most likely will start the season in the AHL, where he will be playing top-line minutes, and iron out the wrinkles in his game. Look for him to become a roster mainstay in the back half of the season.
Thomas Bordeleau is part of the organization’s long-term future and his development this season will be one of the biggest storylines of the year. If the organization wants to make the Barracuda fun again, they might look to keep Bordeleau in the AHL all season as the Sharks quietly tank for an extremely loaded 2023 draft. Or they could use him to provide some offense on a team that finished near the bottom of the league in scoring. Bordeleau will most likely prove himself to be too good to be playing AHL games all year and will get at least 40 NHL games, where he will rack up about 25 points and help to solve a second power play unit that could be woefully undermanned.
Current Age: 33
Last season: 77 GP, 23 G, 33 A
Contract: 5 years, $8 million AAV
Captain Logan Couture had his best statistical season since 2018-19 while playing with a rotating cast of forwards (hi, Ryan Dzingel). Though Couture is on the back nine of his career, he’s still been surprisingly effective at generating offense, despite the lackluster talent around him. Couture has become a jack of all trades, serving as one of the Sharks’ top penalty-killing forwards while taking more than his fair share of defensive draws last season.
Logan Couture needs some help. He may not be the same player he was during the 2019 Western Conference Final run (remember that?), but he is still a very good player who is not being put in a position to succeed thanks to a lack of depth on the team. Couture will continue to slot in as the second-line center, though Quinn has a chance to shake-up how he’s utilized.
Will Couture be given more offensive players around him, such as William Eklund and Oskar Lindblom, or will Quinn want Couture’s line to hold the fort defensively against opponents’ top-line, while Hertl and company take on offensive duties? If Couture is asked to do one of these things, he should still be very effective — asking Couture to do both is where the Sharks get into trouble.
Logan Couture will continue to soak up big minutes on a team that is waiting for center prospects to develop. We’ve seen him start to slow down over the past few seasons due to age and injury. The Sharks need to decide what Couture’s role will be, and stick to it. If Couture is surrounded by young talent, he could be looking at a 25-goal season with another 40 assists on top of it. If he’s stuck playing with another rotating cast of wingers, his point production could slip to the low 50s.
Current Age: 19
Last season: 9 GP, 0 G, 4 A
Contract: 3 years, $894,167 AAV (ELC)
The 2021 seventh-overall pick made the Sharks out of training camp last season and showed flashes of why he was well-worth a selection in the top-10. He was immediately put in the top-six and responded with four assists over nine games, helping to make the power play more dangerous. Eklund was sent back to the SHL to play with a struggling Djurgardens team and he, in turn, struggled to generate much in the terms of offense, finishing the season with just 1 goal and 14 points in 29 games.
William Eklund made the Sharks out of training camp last year and has been already been playing against men in the SHL (which some would argue is a better league than the AHL in terms of the competition) for the past two seasons, so why shouldn’t he start the year in the NHL? He spent the entire off-season working on preparing his body for the grind of an 82-game schedule and was the best player on the ice during the Sharks’ rookie tournament. Eklund will be given every opportunity to make the team out of camp and be a meaningful contributor on a team desperate for offense.
William Eklund enters the season as one of the favorites to win the Calder Trophy. There are questions about his size and whether he can hold up to a full NHL season, but his elite vision and passing ability to make up for it. Eklund is one of the smartest players on the ice and even if he starts the season in the AHL, it won’t be long until he is skating with the Sharks. He should be able to contribute to the power play right away with the likes of Hertl, Couture, Meier and Erik Karlsson reaping the benefits of the young Swede.
If Eklund is to contend for the Calder, he’ll need to put together a 60- to 70-point season with around 20-25 goals. A realistic projection for Eklund’s season is in the range of 40 points, with around a dozen goals as a top-six contributor for most of the season.
Current Age: 23
Last season: 43 GP, 1 G, 2 A
Contract: 1 year, $750,000 AAV
The Sharks claimed Jonah Gadjovich off of waivers from the Vancouver Canucks prior to the start of last season (thanks Jim Benning) and he quickly became a fan favorite with his no-nonsense style, racking up 10 fighting majors last season.
Gadjovch enters the season looking from the outside in, thanks to all of the additions to the forward group, and will need to have a strong camp to make the team on opening night. With an extended roster for the trip to Prague, he could sneak in, but will probably be playing the majority of the season in the AHL — which for the 23-year-old would require waivers and if he were sent down with the rest of the roster cuts at the start of the season, it’s less likely he’d be claimed. Gadjovich has made strides in his skating to improve his offensive game and he did have several chances to light the lamp last year. He needs to prove that he can be more than a modern-day enforcer.
With the increased competition on the Sharks forward group, Gadjovich will probably see more selective use at the NHL-level and spend most of his season with the Barracuda.
Current Age: 24
Last season: 63 GP, 8 G, 15 A
Contract: 1 year, $950,000 AAV
Last season, Noah Gregor established himself as an every-night NHL player. He saw his average ice time jump by over three minutes from the year before and started earning more opportunities on the penalty kill and power play. Gregor had some of the worst puck luck on the team, shooting at 5.1 percent and ending the season with eight goals.
If you are looking for a candidate for positive regression, Noah Gregor is your guy. He ranked fifth on the team in shots last year, with 156 in 63 games. A full season, and better puck luck, could see Gregor flirting with 20 goals. The winger’s role is pretty well established as a bottom-six energy forward who can add some secondary scoring. He will utilize his speed and forecheck ability to start the offense, but he needs to be on a line with a creative playmaker, as shown through his chemistry with Bordeleau last season.
Noah Gregor will have more competition in the bottom-six for ice time. In theory, he should thrive in Ryan Warsofksky’s aggressive penalty kill, using his speed to create havoc along the blue line. If Gregor can carve out a role on the penalty kill and increase his shooting percentage closer to the NHL average of 9.46, Gregor should be a solid third-line player for Quinn.
The question is: how long can he hold this role with similar players like Ozzy Wiesblatt and Brandon Coe waiting in the wings? If a team comes asking for Gregor’s services at the trade deadline, does Grier bite, knowing he has several similar-style players in the AHL?
Current Age: 28
Last season: 82 GP, 30 G, 34 A
Contract: 8 years, $8.1375 million AAV
After spending last season playing will-he-or-won’t-he, Hertl agreed to an eight-year contract extension, making him the highest-paid forward on the team. Hertl answered a lot of questions about this health last season by being one of two players (the other being Brent Burns) to play all 82 games. Sharks fans are going to debate if keeping Hertl was the best move for the franchise, but we can all agree that he is among the three best players in teal this season.
Heading into camp, Hertl’s spot as 1C is one of the few things we know for sure. The Hertl, Barabanov and Meier line played 411 minutes together at even-strength last year and was easily the Sharks’ most productive line, out-scoring opponents by 9 goals and out-shooting opponents 253 to 207. Hertl should continue to be the first-line center for the foreseeable future and if he can remain healthy, he should be worth his contract for the next few seasons.
Hertl posted his second-most productive season last year, notching 30 goals and 34 assists and there shouldn’t be any reason for him to slow down this year. His chemistry with Timo Meier is apparent and Barabanov has been a great addition to the line. There is no reason to think that if Hertl stays healthy, he shouldn’t post another 30-goal season and have around 40 assists while playing close to 20 minutes each night.
Current Age: 24
Last season: 82 GP, 13 G, 9 A (with Nashville Predators)
Contact: 2 years, $2.75 million AAV
The Sharks acquired Luke Kunin at the draft for a 2023 third-round pick and forward John Leonard. Kunin played most of last season in Nashville’s middle-six and ranked seventh on the team in goals with 13. The Sharks signed Kunin to a two-year, $2.75 million annual contract this off-season.
Luke Kunin is an enigma, because analytics say he is probably overutilized by his place in the line-up, yet Kunin continues to produce. Is this because he takes advantage of the opportunities given to him or because he might be better than the analytics say? His ice time has dropped over the past two seasons with Nashville, and the forward had clearly fallen out of favor since they were happy to trade him.
Kunin will look to add some more scoring to a third line that struggled to score last year. Kunin has had an above-average shooting percentage the last three years, but also got to play with Ryan Johansen for the majority of the time. Will playing with Nick Bonino this year provide the same opportunity? Look for Kunin to hit double-digit goals again, but leaving Sharks fans wanting more.
Current Age: 26
Last season: 21 GP, 3 G, 3 A
Contract: 2 years $4.725 million AAV
After signing a four-year, $18.9 million contract in October 2020, Kevin Labanc has responded with 34 points in 76 games over the last two seasons. He missed the majority of the season last year with a shoulder injury, but prior to the injury, he netted six points in 21 games, was playing on the fourth line and living in head coach Bob Boughner’s dog house, to the point that the once-regular NHL player was a healthy scratch.
Labanc enters the third season of his deal looking to prove why Doug Wilson was right for giving him an extension. Though he probably won’t be the 60-point player that Wilson claimed he could be when he re-signed, he can still provide secondary scoring to a team that desperately needs it. Labanc looks to be given a chance to play with Couture as training camp is underway and should make the most of it. The 26-year-old is never going to be a defensive wizard, but has made progress in the defensive zone during his career. A clean slate under Quinn could provide the spark Labanc needs to get his career back on track.
If Labanc wins a job on Couture’s wing, he should be able to produce. He will be a staple on the power play and should have plenty of opportunities to regain his scoring touch, especially if someone like Eklund rounds out that line. We think of Labanc as a shooter and goal-scorer, but the winger has never cracked the 20-goal mark in his career. This feels like the year for Labanc to be the goal-scorer that San Jose envisioned when they gave him the massive extension.
Current Age: 26
Last season: 79 GP, 12 G, 14 A (with Philadelphia Flyers)
Contract: 2 years, $2.5 million AAV
The former Flyer was well on his way to being a top-six player in Philly when the would-be core piece was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma during the 2019-20 season. He returned during the 2020-21 season, winning the Masterton Award for his perseverance and dedication. The Flyers decided to buy out the final year of his contract this off-season and he quickly signed a two-year contract with the Sharks.
Lindblom has discussed that he is still looking to add strength back after overcoming cancer, but is feeling good entering his first season with the Sharks. Lindblom will be asked to add secondary scoring to a team that needs as much help as possible. If he can start to recapture his pre-cancer form, Lindblom’s contract will look like a steal. Lindblom hasn’t been used much on the power play in his career, ranking 11th among Flyers forwards in power play time, but was an asset on the penalty kill. Lindblom should see plenty of short-handed time and has a shot to win a job on the second power play unit.
Oskar Lindblom might be one of the players to take a big step forward this season. He’s going to have plenty of opportunities to soak up big minutes and if he can establish himself on the power play, he could be a solid 35- to 40-point player for the Sharks. If he struggles to regain his strength, he might become a rich man’s Matt Nieto — a player who can help out a penalty kill and provide a bit of offense, but is mostly forgettable at 5-on-5.
Current Age: 26
Last season: 67 GP, 8 G, 5 A (with Carolina Hurricanes)
Contract: 2 years, $1.05 million AAV
Steven Lorentz was acquired in the trade that sent Brent Burns to the Carolina Hurricanes. The former seventh-round pick has taken the long route to the NHL by playing stints in the ECHL with the Florida Everblades before eventually establishing himself on the Hurricanes. Lorentz was given a two-year contract worth $1.05 million annually. He should be in contention for a fourth-line role and can play all three forward positions, providing plenty of flexibility.
Lorentz provided surprising offense for the ‘Canes, despite averaging less than 11 minutes a night. Lorentz should slot into the Sharks’ fourth line, most likely playing alongside Nieto and Nico Sturm, but it will be interesting to see if he gains the trust of the coaching staff in crucial situations. At 26 years old, Lorentz will most likely be looking over his shoulder for younger players who are ready to make the jump to the big leagues. While a few years younger, Lorentz feels very much like Stefan Noesen — a potential fan favorite, holding a spot in the line-up until someone better comes along.
It might seem like a low bar, but scoring eight goals again would be a pleasant surprise from the fourth line (that would have tied for 10th on the team last year). It’s going to be hard to replicate if the Sharks revisit the trend of playing majority of games on their heels, relying on the top lines to mount a comeback.
At some point, management will want to take a look at younger players, as well. Although Lorentz is not waivers exempt, its hard not to imagine him playing games in the AHL at some point this season, especially if the Barracuda are better than expected and are trying to make a playoff run. Look for Lorentz to add around 10 points at the NHL level.
Current Age: 26
Last season: 77 GP, 35 G, 41 A
Contract: 1 year, $6 million AAV
Timo Meier is in the final year of his four-year, $24 million contract. He was the team’s MVP last year, setting career-highs in goals (35), assists (41) and points (76). Meier was the driving force last year and there is little expectation that this year will be any different, especially entering a contract year. If you enjoyed the will-he-or-won’t-he with Hertl last season, buckle up for the sequel.
Meier enters the season as the Sharks’ undisputed best winger and arguably the best forward and best player, period. He is entering the prime of his career and is going to have every opportunity to make the most of it. How Meier handles the pressure of a looming contract decision or a potential mid-season trade to another team is the question. Mike Grier has made it pretty clear that it will be up to Meier if he wants to stay or facilitate a trade. If Meier wants to stay, the Sharks will probably be looking at an eight-year deal worth upwards of $9 million annually. If Meier makes it clear he isn’t willing to re-sign, then the Sharks could be looking at a potential haul for the retool, reload, rebuild.
The absolute floor season for Timo Meier is 50 points and that would be a huge disappointment coming off of last season. Playing the entire year with Thomas Hertl and putting up major minutes on what should be an improved power play (Quinn’s power plays ranked 17th, 7th and 14th in his three seasons with the New York Ranger) could lead to Meier posting monster numbers. He should easily be a point-per-game player this year, and if everything breaks in his favor, Meier could be flirting with a 90-point season.
Current Age: 29
Last season: 70 GP, 6 G, 11 A
Contract: 1 year, $850,000 AAV
Returning to the Sharks in the 2020 off-season, Matt Nieto has established himself as a defensive forward who can chip in a few goals. He was re-signed last year to a two-year, $850,000 annual contract last off-season and primarily played on a defensive third line with Nick Bonino and Andrew Cogliano. He ranked fourth among Sharks forwards last year with 121 minutes on the penalty kill.
Nieto is on the final year of his deal and will most likely slot in on Nico Sturm's wing. He uses his speed to forecheck and create pressure for opposing players and can get loose for the occasional breakaway. He should continue to be a staple on the penalty kill that ranked second in the league last year. The expectation is that Nieto will most likely be dealt at the trade deadline to a team looking to shore up their penalty kill, much like how Cogliano was dealt for a future fifth-rounder last season.
Matt Nieto played an elevated role last season due to the lack of depth and was deployed in odd situations (remember when Nieto started overtime?). The addition of players like Lindblom and Kunin means Nieto should be slotted in a more favorable position on the fourth line, where he can focus on playing solid defense and being one of the team’s best penalty killers. He should land in the 10-15 point range and will most likely end his season on a contender.
Current Age: 23
Last season: 35 GP, 7 G, 2 A
Contract: 1 year, $842,500 AAV (ELC)
Scott Reedy started last season in the AHL and showed off his scoring touch with 18 goals in 37 games (good for second on the team). That earned him 35 NHL games, scoring seven goals in that time. He enters this season fighting for a spot on the opening night roster, but will most likely be starting the year in the AHL once again.
Reedy has quickly developed a knack for scoring goals at all levels. He ranked second among rookies in goals last year, despite playing almost half as many games as Jonathan Dahlen, who netted 12 goals while playing top-six minutes. Though shooting at 21 percent is far from sustainable over the course of a full season, he has proven to be a goal-scorer and should get an extended look during the season. The crowded roster means it will likely come in relief.
While Reedy will most likely start the season in the AHL, he will probably be first in line for a call-up. He is the classic tweener — too good for the AHL, but not quite established as an NHL player. If he can continue to work on rounding out his game, he should be able to get back in the NHL, where his ability to score in the paint could be make him a future 20-goal scorer, if he has the right linemates around.
Current Age: 27
Last season: 74 GP, 9 G, 11 A (with Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche)
Contract: 3 years, $2 million AAV
Nico Sturm won the Stanley Cup last year after being traded to the Avalanche prior to the trade deadline. He responded by playing a fourth-line role for the champs and adding two points in playoffs. The Sharks signed the German center to a three-year, $6 million deal at the start of free agency.
The fourth-line pivot revolving door over the past few seasons has been solved. Sturm can play up in a pinch, but is better suited as a fourth-liner. He doesn’t provide much in terms of offense, but is a perfectly cromulent NHL player. Although he is considered one of the placeholders that the young players need to leap-frog, it would be a shock if Sturm is a healthy scratch. He is one of those coach’s dream players, who does all the little things right and provides consistency every game.
You can write Nico Sturm in as the 4C for the foreseeable future. He is going to play a solid 10 mins a night, be a great guy in the locker room and probably end the season with around 10 points, while Jasper Weatherby and or Scott Reedy prepare to take over the role next year.
Current Age: 25
Last season: 72 GP, 7 G, 12 A (with Winnipeg Jets)
Contract: 1 year, $750,000 AAV
Evgeny Svechnikov is the older brother of a much more famous Hurricanes player. He spent last season with the Winnipeg Jets, scoring seven goals playing a third-line role. He played less than two minutes of power play time and contributed nothing on the penalty kill, even though the analytics peg him as positive-impact defensive forward for his role. He signed a one-year, two-way contract at the beginning of September. He will have to clear waivers to play in the AHL.
Svechnikov is competing for a spot on the opening night roster with the likes of Luke Kunin, Matt Nieto, Jeffrey Viel and Steven Lorentz. He will most likely start the season in the AHL, assuming he clears waivers. The Russian winger has yet to put everything together to be worth the 19th-overall pick in the 2015 draft class, but for a veteran minimum contract he is worth a swing for Mike Grier.
If the organization wants the Barracuda to be good, they should try to sneak Svechnikov down to the AHL to let him do some damage. It’s going to be tough for Svechnikov to win a spot on the roster, since he doesn’t add anything in terms of special teams. While he will probably play NHL games at some point this year, he shouldn’t stand in the way of younger players getting much-needed development time in either league.
Current Age: 25
Last season: 34 GP, 3 G, 2 A
Contract: 1 year, $750,000 AAV
A point-per-game player in his final two QMJHL seasons, Jeffrey Viel signed with the Barracuda and eventually earned an entry-level contract from the Sharks. He has spent the last two seasons bouncing between the two clubs, providing physicality to the bottom-six.
Viel also is another player who is looking to secure a spot on the opening night roster, but will most likely have to clear waivers to join the Barracuda. Viel racked up eight fights last season including one against a legendary defenseman Zdeno Chara, earning him respect from the league’s tough guys. In the AHL, Viel will need to continue to work on his scoring touch to prove that he has more layers to his game.
Viel has much more competition for a starting fourth-line spot and will find more playing time in the AHL. While Viel quickly became a fan favorite last season, he will most likely be passed by in terms of talent by incoming prospects.
Current Age: 24
Last season: 50 GP, 5 G, 6 A
Contract: 1 year, $842,500 AAV (ELC)
Lord Jasper Weatherby made the choice to forgo his senior season at the University of North Dakota where he was expected to be named captain. He won a spot on the Sharks’ opening night roster and made an immediate impact with a goal in his first game. Weatherby bounced back and forth between the Sharks and Barracuda last year. In the final year of his ELC, the center is hoping to prove he’s a capable NHL mainstay.
Prior to free agency, Jasper Weatherby looked like a lock for the Sharks roster, but the additions to the forward group have made it much more difficult for the native Oregonian. Weatherby is waivers exempt and will probably be best served to play in the AHL where he can get more special teams experience, round out his game to NHL-caliber and establish himself as a locker room leader.
Weatherby will also be one of those ‘tweeners this season. He is a big forward who needs to learn to utilize his size more in the dirty areas and some time in the AHL could help to refine those skills. Weatherby is expected be a part of the Sharks' future and could be an overqualified 4C, but should use this season to add more depth to his game.