The Summer knows – Training Camp eve

One last caress
It’s time to dress
For Fall…

Recapping off season ponderings:

And it’s here!  Training camp. First on ice session will be Friday morning.

New coach DeBoer promises a clean slate, which is both good and bad.  If you had a bad season, new reasons to play your best.  If you’ve been at the top of the game, you have to prove yourself again.  And the new players to the organization have to show the coaching staff their abilities and how they’ll fit in.

So, where are we, what might the NHL roster look like at the start of the season?  Who’ll be in the AHL?  Or who won’t be playing pro with the Sharks?

To start, realize that the organization prides itself on merit promotions.  IOW, how you play will rank you in the depth chart, get you ice time and a NHL roster spot.

But if you’re an experienced NHL player on a one-way contract, what might that mean for your future with the organization if you’ve dropped down the depth chart?  The organization must consider the roster count (max 23), NHL contract count (max 50+CHL slideable) and the cap implications of any move. The cap for the upcoming season is $71.4m. This season, a player on a one-way contract gets a $925k cap exemption if assigned to the AHL; for example, if a player had a $1m contract, and was assigned to the AHL, there would be a residual $75k hit against the NHL cap; if the cap hit was $600k, there would be no residual NHL cap implications. And if a player has to be assigned to the AHL, is he exempt from waivers, or might he be picked up by another NHL team?

Here are some cap numbers from General Fanager.  And here is my determination of players’ waiver exemption status.

Another wrinkle is the handful of CHL-eligible players who will turn 20 by the end of the calendar year. They can be signed by the NHL Sharks, and play in either the NHL or AHL.  Or their rights will be retained until at least next spring if unsigned and returned to their respective CHL teams, as an “over ager”. These include F Helewka (’15 draftee), F Labanc (’14 draftee), F Schoenborn (’14 draftee) and D Vanier (’14 draftee).  (Update:  All but Helewka returned to their respective junior team 9/17. Sharks retain their rights until June 1, 2016; so if the organization decides to sign them it will be by then.)

There are also two signed draftees, Chartier and Meier, than can only play in the NHL or have to return to the CHL (and their contracts slide).

The organization has indicated that players in the NHL will play.  So, that if a young player isn’t getting a lot of ice time if on the NHL roster, he may end up in the AHL for playing time.

So, who “will” make the NHL squad?  Who “might” make the NHL roster?

My guess?

Goalies: Jones, Stalock
Unless Grosenick vastly outplays Stalock, this should be the season starting pair.

Defense: Braun, Burns, Dillon, Martin, Mueller, Tennyson, Vlasic  Mueller (still on ELS) has multiple years of waiver exemption remaining.  Tennyson would have to clear waivers to play in AHL. DeMelo is mentioned as someone who might make the team.

Forwards: Brown, Couture, Goodrow, Hertl, Karlsson, Marleau, Nieto, Pavelski, Smith, Thornton, Tierney, Torres, Ward, Wingels
Hertl, Karlsson and Nieto are nearly out of waiver exemption. Goodrow and Tierney have some waiver years left. A few of the 3rd/4th liners might end up plying their trade elsewhere (potentially Brown, Nieto, Smith, Torres).  Donskoi has been a revelation and I believe will unseat someone in the depth chart. Goldobin seems to be penciled in for the NHL roster.

Definitely a year where the competition will be fierce for a NHL roster spot.  And well worth keeping an eye on what’s happening at training camp.