The Sharks finalized their opening night roster today at noon. They will have three rookie forwards, all playing in their first NHL game on Thursday night. New additions to the roster include Matthew Nieto, Tomas Hertl, Freddie Hamilton, and Alex Stalock (backup goaltender).
Tomas Hertl was expected to make the team the whole time, his 3 goals during the preseason only solidified his case even more. At only nineteen years old, Hertl will not only be playing on the top line with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, but he will also be the youngest Sharks player since Marc-Edouard Vlasic to make his debut. Through the 4 preseason match ups that he was a part of, Hertl definitely proved himself as a scorer but also as a player that will be able to withstand the physicality. He is not expected to replace Raffi Torres, who is out with an ACL injury, but Hertl will be able to withstand the bruising style of play in the NHL with his big six-foot-two, 210 pound frame.
With Torres’ absence comes a hole in the third-line, Matt Nieto has been assigned to fill that position with Tommy Wingels and Joe Pavelski. However, like Hertl, he is not expected to play with the same physicality that Torres brought to the table last year. We won’t be seeing Nieto deliver a game-changing hit like Torres has in the past, but we will see Nieto’s most important hockey characteristic coming into play, his speed.
For me, I just want to compliment those players and chip in offensively, use my speed to create turnovers. We’re going to try to make plays, and put up some goals.
Nieto was clearly excited to make the roster of a team in the most successful hockey league in the world:
— Matt Nieto (@matt_nieto) September 30, 2013
On to Freddie Hamilton. He will most likely play on the fourth-line, depending on the status of Adam Burish, who is still not skating. Hamilton played in Worcester all last year, posting 26 points on 13 goals and 13 assists. Hamilton could possibly contribute as a center, either wing, or on the power play/penalty kill.
In the last roster decision of the day, Alex Stalock beat out Harri Sateri in a quite uneventful backup goaltender battle. My guess is that the Sharks took Stalock due to more experience, he has played a grand total of 3 NHL games, compared to Sateri’s gameless NHL career. Regardless, Antti Niemi is projected to get most of the work in the net, as he played 43 out of the 48 games last season.