Now that much of the free agency craze has passed, the Sharks will turn their attention to their own prospects.
With many San Jose Sharks prospects turning professional next year, Sharks fans won’t have much to follow in the CHL for 2016-17. Until Sharks fans in Western Canada received good news last Tuesday, as two WHL teams selected players belonging to the Sharks organization. If they report, fans will have a better idea of the development curve of Rudolfs Balcers (Kamloops Blazers) and Joachim Blichfeld (Portland Winterhawks).
Balcers spent the past two seasons playing professional hockey in Norway. So transitioning to junior hockey seems like a curious decision. However, Balcers is likely looking to adjust to the North American game instead. Because there aren’t any forward spots available on the San Jose Barracuda, playing for the Blazers is the only opportunity for Balcers to play in North America before signing with the Sharks.
The other factor to consider here is that scouts of all kinds have a better idea of how to evaluate players in the CHL compared to European prospects. The sample size of prospects from North America is much larger so comparing Balcers to a bigger sample size of prospects will give the Sharks a better idea on if they should sign him.
According to sources, Balcers should report to Kamloops so he should provide an offensive punch to a team that lost a close first round series to Rourke Chartier and the Kelowna Rockets.
As for Blichfeld, Sharks fans are even less aware of him since he has only been a prospect for a couple of weeks. After being drafted by Timo Meier‘s Halifax Mooseheads last year, he was selected again by the Portland Winterhawks.
Blichfeld doesn’t look likely to make the Malmo Redhawks senior squad so joining Portland would be beneficial. However, him reporting is dependent on Vancouver Canucks overager Rodrigo Abols returning to the team.
Either way, seeing how two offensive forwards in Balcers and Blichfeld perform in a defensive-minded league should be something to keep an eye on.
We already profiled the usual suspects to watch out for, but every year there are always some interesting names that are in attendance.
Two of those tryouts include former Los Angeles Kings prospects Jake Marchment and (former Mr.Irrelevant) Jake Middleton. Good to know the Sharks don’t have to trade any assets to acquire prospects from their rivals.
There were some noticeable trends in the tryouts too. Along with Marchment, the Sharks invited another player from the Erie Otters in defenseman Darren Raddysh. This invite makes me wonder if the Sharks were targeting Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick Taylor Raddysh.
Other notable trends include inviting another overage college forward in Seamus Malone. With him and the selection of Dylan Gambrell, the Sharks are showing interest in players that can produce points in college despite their age.
Finally, the Sharks continue their trend of scouting players from nontraditional hockey markets by inviting Japanese forward Yushiroh Hirano.
I doubt that any of these players earn an entry-level contract but its always interesting to see the diverse group of names invited to participate in development camp. This should be an exciting event to keep an eye on throughout the week.