Thursday morning, the San Jose Sharks held their third day of development camp, this time in preparation for the Development Camp Scrimmage, in which fans and staff alike got a glimpse at the future of the franchise. Following morning practice, forwards William Eklund, Ozzy Wiesblatt and Tristen Robins spoke with the media about their experiences so far at development camp, improving their game and lessons learned.
Here are the highlights of what they had to say:
On his goals before September: I just want to stay in shape and gain a lot of muscle. I’m working on my speed a lot more right now back home so I can be ready for September. Of course, I want to improve my game on the ice — like being better with my shot, being in the corners, everything like that. I want to improve every single thing as much as I can.
On shooting more on when playing: There’s a lot of truth in that. I think I’ve been more of a pass first guy my whole life, but I also have to translate that into shooting as well — becoming a double threat there. That’s something I want to do this year.
On Doug Wilson Jr.: He was a really good guy, I liked him a lot. I met him a lot in Sweden this year, as well. He did a good thing for this organization, and I hope he’s doing well too.
On Patrick Marleau: Just seeing him in the locker room has been really cool. He’s been through a lot in the NHL, and he’s been huge for this organization too. It was a really cool experience for me. He hasn’t given me any pointers yet, but I hope he does at some point.
On Weatherby and Bordeleau: I went to Chipotle the first day, so it’s good to be back. We’ve all been good. All the guys here I met last year too, I kind of had a good relationship with all of them, so it’s more comfortable coming back here and being with the staff as well.
On the buzz around him coming into camp: My goal is to make the team, but I don’t feel any pressure from anyone. The pressure comes from me a lot of the time, and I kind of like that. From the fans, I don’t feel any pressure, I just know that they’re happy I’m here, and that’s a good feeling for me.
On improving his game: One of the problems I had last year was that I wasn’t really shooting the puck enough. I found myself getting into grade-A opportunities where I passed them up, and what I want to do this summer is shoot the puck more instead. I know I can get myself to the right areas, but it’s just a matter of shooting the puck and making the simple plays. I know I have a good shot, I just have to use it. I also think my skating has always been a strong suit of mine. I just want to show that I can shoot the puck and not pass up opportunities.
On John McCarthy: We worked pretty closely during video and stuff after practices, games, just looking over tape. Even this year he came down to Prince Albert and we went out to dinner to talk about the season so far. I have a pretty good relationship with him. He’s doing a great job, so it’s going to be cool seeing where his position as head coach for the Barracuda will lead to.
On Doug Wilson Jr.: Him and I had a good relationship, he was great to my family and me. I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me. It’s tough to see him go, but whatever team gets him will have a great guy.
On having a new general manager: It’s a new front office, so you want to prove yourself again since these aren’t the guys who drafted me. I want to show them how good I am both on and off the ice.
On his first development camp experience: It’s been great so far, an awesome couple of days. It’s been great to reignite with some familiar faces and see the staff. I have no complaints.
Santeri Hatakka, him and I are pretty close, so we’ve been hanging out for a little bit, having some fun. When I came here last year, we were just hanging out and talking, and we became pretty good friends. He’s a good guy, I love being around him.
On improving his game: I think my defensive play will open up a lot more opportunities for myself. Being a more reliable player will put me in more situations on the ice as well.
On John McCarthy: He’s been awesome with me. He’s been a great mentor. One thing he works on with me pretty frequently is my face-offs. He was really good in the face-off dot, and I love hearing what he has to say.
On Patrick Marleau: It’s pretty cool just having him around the week, he’s a true professional. I haven’t gotten too many chances to talk to him, but it’s amazing to have him around.
On playing varied positions: I think whatever position the team needs me to play, I’ll be open to play — I’m pretty versatile that way. I’d probably prefer playing center, but any position works for me. I’m more comfortable on my forehand — my right side — it makes things a little easier on the breakaway.
On the mindset coming into development camp: I think just not trying to do too much and sticking to my game. I know it probably sounds a little cliché, but everyone has their own strengths, and I think when you play outside of those strengths, things tend to go more sideways.
I think it’s more business as usual coming in, but it’s a lot quieter around here, I’ve found. It happens to teams around the league, so I’m just interested to see how they move forward.
*Lightly edited for clarity.