The San Jose Sharks drop the puck once again tonight at the ‘Tank against the budding rival Vegas Golden Knights, at 7:00 PM.
This will be the San Jose Sharks third of six preseason games and already some interesting story lines are developing. Who is going to take the reigns of the 4th line center position? Does Annti Suomela, the Finnish free agent signed this offseason have a firm grasp on the 3rd line center spot? How are the defensive pairings going to shake out?
We are starting to get some clarity with these questions and others during the San Jose Sharks preseason, and we will hopefully answer some more of these questions after tonight. As the opposing Vegas Golden Knights march into the ‘Tank with sky high expectations after the expansion team shocked the NHL world all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals last season. The Cinderella story finally coming to an end against Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
One of the major story lines coming into camp was who would lock down the 4th line center position. The favorite going into the preseason was Dylan Gambrell, the former University of Denver Pioneer. Gambrell had a few starts under his belt at the very end of the regular season last year, and the Sharks like what they see from the 2016 second round pick.
It will however, be Gambrell on the 4th line wing tonight, as the surprise of camp so far, 2014 5th round pick Rourke Chartier will assume the center position on the last line tonight.
Chartier, the Barracuda Centerman, has made a name for himself already in this short preseason, having been arguably the San Jose Sharks best pivot, with 1 goal and 3 assists in two games. He’s been the star on the ice and has developed pretty good chemistry already with fellow fourth liners Marcus Sorenson and Barclay Goodrow.
It will be interesting tonight to see the play of Gambrell on the wing, as he was a true Center at University of Denver, and mostly centered the fourth line in his three games as a Shark last season. Head Coach Peter DeBoer wants versatility out of his young players, and wants to test Gambrell and his other youngsters.
This could also mean that its Chartier who now has the upper hand for the 4C role. And it could be Chartier, not Gambrell who factors into this coaching staff’s plans on opening day. Either way, this particular position battle looks like its going to come down to the wire, and we may not know who is going to open the year at 4C until October 3rd.
Watch for the fourth line tonight (said no one ever). Unfortunately, black out restrictions do apply, so you can stream the games broadcast at sjsharks.com.