San Jose Sharks Dark-Horse Candidates To Make Team


The San Jose Sharks released their full training camp roster, and of the 63 players listed, only 20 will earn starting positions come opening night. A handful of others will be kept for depth while the rest will be released, returned to juniors or sent down to the AHL.

[RELATED: San Jose Sharks Announce Training Camp Roster]

At the forward position, there are 38 camp attendees competing for 12 starting spots. With Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Joel Ward, Tommy Wingels, Matt Nieto, Tomas Hertl and Ben Smith all virtual locks, there are three jobs up for grabs.

On the back end, 19 defensemen will attend training camp and battle for six starting roles. Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun, Paul Martin and Brenden Dillon are all making the cut, so there’s one opening for a starter and likely an additional spot for a depth defenseman.

Let’s take a look at five young hopefuls who have the best chances of securing those roles.

5. Joonas Donskoi

Originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 entry draft by the Florida Panthers, Donskoi has never appeared in an NHL game. The 23-year-old forward spent the last six years playing for Karpat in the Finnish Elite League, where he tallied 49 points in 58 games last season.

Donskoi signed a two-year contract with the Sharks as a free agent this summer. If he can keep producing offense throughout the preseason – and prove that he’s not a defensive liability – he has a shot at a roster spot.

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4. Patrick McNally

The Sharks acquired McNally from the Vancouver Canucks on draft weekend in exchange for a seventh-round pick. Another product of the 2010 entry draft, McNally recently wrapped up his fourth season with Harvard University. The 23-year-old defenseman posted 21 points in as many games last year.

On July 2, the Sharks and McNally agreed to terms on a two-year deal. The smooth-skating rearguard is on the cusp of being NHL-ready and could crack the lineup if he has a strong showing in camp. His agility and offensive acumen would be welcome additions to San Jose’s defense corps.

3. Nikita Jevpalovs

This 21-year-old center potted 49 goals and 51 assists in 64 games with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL last season. An undrafted native of Riga, Latvia, Jevpalovs’ lack of pro experience may work against him in his push for a roster spot, but his strength and talent are undeniable.

Jevpalovs markedly increased his offensive production in each of his three seasons with the Armada. He’ll need to go above and beyond to leap-frog the older, more experienced players ahead of him on the depth chart, but he has the tools to succeed at the NHL level.

2. Dylan DeMelo

DeMelo has been in San Jose’s system since the team drafted him 179th overall in 2011. His skating ability and all-around game earned him heavy minutes in the AHL over the last two years.

Now 22, this is DeMelo’s best chance at cracking the club’s big-league roster. He has the advantage of being familiar with the organization and having several years of pro experience. The same can’t be said for most of the other young defensemen vying for positions in the lineup.

1. Nikolay Goldobin

Selected in the first round by the Sharks in last summer’s entry draft, Goldobin is widely regarded as one of the team’s top prospects. The shifty winger registered 94 points in 67 games two years ago in his final season with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting.

Last year, Goldobin made his transition to pro hockey by joining HIFK Helsinki of the Finnish Elite League. He managed 21 points in 38 regular season games and added six points in eight matches during the playoffs.

Goldobin’s offensive skill set is world-class and he’s an agile, dynamic skater. If it weren’t for his slight frame and shoddy defensive play, he’d be a lock to make the team. As it stands, the 19-year-old forward will have to prove that he can play an all-around game and produce at the NHL level.

Next: Five Keys To Success For San Jose Sharks

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