Like all NHL clubs this weekend, the San Jose Sharks opened main camp to capacity crowds at their training facilities.
Day 1 featured two groups, A and B, with two ice sessions for each group. The practices featured flow drills and system instructions in preparation for the start of pre-season games this week. Day 2 included an inner-squad scrimmage in addition to separate practices for each group.
Devon Setoguchi, Dany Heatley, and Patrick Marleau all looked to be in great shape and ready for camp. Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle also looked to be in good shape but were just noticeably happy about being back on the ice. New addition, Jamal Mayers, looked right at home playing alongside Scott Nichol as the two appear to be developing a compatible relationship as a high-energy forechecking tandem. Andreas Lilja turned heads as he was invited to camp on a Professional Tryout Offer (PTO). The 35 year-old veteran defenseman played very physically during the scrimmage and seems to be comfortable with head coach, Todd McLellan, from their days together with the Detroit Red Wings organization. Antero Niittymaki was very impressive, especially during the scrimmage, as he exhibited great rebound control and was tracking pucks through traffic.
Who needs work:
Newly signed goaltender, Antti Niemi, struggled severely during his first action in a Sharks’ uniform. Snipers lit up Niemi’s glove and blocker sides during drills as if it were Christmas in Time Square. In the scrimmage, the Finnish net-minder surrendered two goals during his share of playing time – one on a shot through traffic by Derek Joslin and the other was a rebound put home by Joe Thornton after Niemi failed to control the point shot from defensman, Joe Loprieno.
Defenseman Sean Sullivan, a former 9th round draft pick by the Phoenix Coyotes, saw some action late in the scrimmage paired with Dan Boyle when his team trailed by a goal. Like Boyle, Sullivan stands 5’11 190 lbs and finished first in scoring among defensemen for the San Antonio Rampage last season with 49 points in 77 games – good for third on the team overall. My guess is that Sullivan could step into the offensive defenseman role should Boyle or Vlasic go down with an injury during the year.
Camp continues on Monday with practices and another scrimmage. Tuesday the team will play their annual Teal vs White game at HP Pavilion in front of invited fans. The Sharks begin their pre-season on the road Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks.
About the Author
Written by Alex Wasserstrom
Native Californian, former minor league pro, and current men's league superstar, Alex Wasserstrom is ProSportsBlogging.com's San Jose Sharks correspondent. Wanna talk puck? Shoot him an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or follow him on Twitter (@Awassers).