FTF Regular Season Cheat Sheet: Line Four
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.
#0 / Left Wing / San Jose Sharks
Oct 29, 1987
Previous FTF Coverage: A Week in Review (Mr. Plank), Observations from Teal and White 2009 (Mr. Plank/TCY)
2008-2009 Stats (Worcester Sharks)
Our two cents:
There are three spots being competed for on the lower lines (3-RW, 4-RW, 4-LW), so this exhibition season has bee one of moving pieces for the coaching staff. One guy who's found himself into almost every game, though, is Frazer McLaren.
He really has a very limited hockey skill set. He's slow, he skates poorly, his hands are late-in-his-career-Grier esque, but somehow he finds his way on the the roster consistently. How?
Well, he's huge. And he goes to the net. Those are two things that have immense value to this team. He also had a nice Calder Cup Series run, scoring five points in twelve games. Frazer is never going to wow anyone with a nice move or make a goalie look stupid. But he's a bad ass mo-fo who'll throw down even in the preseason (the black eye and stitches proves that) and is willing to take the punishment of the crash the net style game. You need some guys like that on the roster. We're not sure if he ends up with a starting spot, but we can see the value in giving him a chance.
#21 / Center / San Jose Sharks
Dec 31, 1974
Previous FTF Coverage: A Week in Review (Mr. Plank), Observations from Teal and White 2009 (Mr. Plank/TCY), David Pollak claims Scott Nichol to become Sharks 4th-line Center (Teas)
2008-2009 Stats (Nashville Predators)
Our two cents:
When Nichol came to the Sharks in the first real offseason move by Doug Wilson, many (especially TCY) were critical of the move. However, now that he's played a few games with the team, it's easier to see what Wilson saw when he inked Nichol to a one year $750,000 contract.
The most significant share of Nichol's value comes on the penalty kill, where he has impressed all pre-season. However, he does take penalties, and his size makes him a less than intimidating opponent. However, he plays big, and is a heart and soul type guy.
The concerns are still there, though, and the injury history is scary. Nichol has only played more than 70 games twice in his nine year career, so the biggest question is if he can remain healthy. If he does, we think the Sharks will see an improvement over their revolving door of fourth liners last year.
#59 / Right Wing / San Jose Sharks
Jul 28, 1984
Previous FTF Coverage: A Week in Review (Mr. Plank), Observations from Teal and White 2009 (Mr. Plank/TCY), The Journey (Mr. Plank)
Our two cents:
Before anyone freaks out, yes, Shelley will probably skate on line four instead of Staubitz. However, these are the lines that McLellan used in the final exhibition game against Phoenix, so it's what we'll use now.
Staubitz has a motor that just doesn't quit, and he's quite capable of standing up for a teammate. The coaches love his fire, and he's a better skater than he gets credit for.
He just takes so many penalties, and combined with Nichol's tendency to do so as well, skating them together over the course of an 82 game season would likely yield some less than favorable results. He's also pretty small (Shelley's got two inches and ten pounds on him), so having him line up with Nichol causes some matchup problems for the Sharks. We're just about as comfortable with him as we are with Shelley, but it's one or the other- if the Sharks roll out a line with them on opposite wings, there better be some pretty significant injury issues.