But that didn’t stop fans from packing Sharks Ice in San Jose on Tuesday for the team’s annual prospects scrimmage. (SAP Center, the venue in past years, was booked for the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Trials.)
Nor did it imply the Sharks were lacking in organizational depth.
Forward Timo Meier and defenseman Patrick McNally both recorded hat tricks in Team Ricci’s 7-6 win over Team Marchment, while forward Marcus Sorensen — who scored the first goal — and forward Barclay Goodrow — who had a couple of assists — were also noticeable on the ice.
San Jose Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer ran the five-day development camp, which he said focused more on off-the-ice lessons, such as nutrition. Still, he enjoyed the results of Tuesday’s scrimmage:
“I think you guys saw the right guys scoring. Meier [with] three goals and then nice goal by Sorensen early. McNally’s three [goals] … It was good pace and I thought they got a lot out of the camp.”
Meier, the ninth overall pick in last year’s draft, is emerging as a strong candidate to make the roster on opening night. His three goals included a nice finish on a 2-on-1 break, an overtime marker, and a shootout goal. The 19-year-old noted that this was just a scrimmage, but it was nice to stand out:
“For sure. You want to be a leader on the ice. You want to show your teammates, the organization that you’re ready for this challenge. Being here, what’s important is the way you work on the ice and handle yourself. It was a great week.”
On the older side, the 24-year-old Sorensen fits right into the prototype of Melker Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi, both of whom spent significant time playing in Europe before seeing success at the NHL level with the Sharks. And, like Karlsson and Donskoi, Sorensen’s speed has the Sharks impressed.
“I see a lot of the other two guys in him – the Donskoi and Karlsson. Just his attitude and his focus and his intensity. Can you have three clones?”
The Sweden native has spent six seasons playing in his home country. The Ottawa Senators drafted him in the fourth round in 2010, but didn’t sign him. While he acknowledged Donskoi and Karlsson’s path from Europe to the NHL, Sorensen knows there are no guarantees:
“Yeah, of course I see that opportunity, but it’s a hard way. It’s really hard — a lot of guys who battle for a few spots. Of course, [Karlsson and Donskoi] have been doing it really good, so I’m trying to prepare the same way.”
The Sharks didn’t have a first-round selection in this year’s draft, so their top pick was 19-year-old forward Dylan Gambrell, selected 60th in the second round. The 19-year-old will need time to develop, but scored on a nice deflection early in the scrimmage and Sommer called him “the real deal”:
“I noticed him right off the bat, just his speed and tenacity. He gets after it. He’s got a good shot. He’s around the net. He thinks the game well, just from the four days I’ve seen him.”
Gambler put up impressive numbers as a freshman at the University of Denver that caught the Sharks’ ice. He models his game after Joe Pavelski, and, like Pavelski, knows what it’s like to be snubbed in the draft — Gambrell went undrafted twice before the Sharks grabbed him this year:
“Being passed over twice, I took it as a learning experience. Maybe a little bit of motivation to keep pushing and try to keep getting better every day. Either way, if you get drafted or not, you’re going to have to keep working so I just stuck to it and fortunately I got picked this year.”
And he went to an organization that knows how to develop prospects. Gambrell said on the development camp:
“You get to talk to all the coaches and staff. They’ve been here for so long, they give you all that knowledge, pass that on to you. They critique you on different things and make you a better player. Just being able to play with older players as well. You just learn from them. All-around, just a great learning experience.”