SAN JOSE – Sharks coach David Quinn earlier this week implored his team, particularly the younger players, to not waste time in training camp if they hope to make a push for a spot on the team’s 23-man roster.
Two of the Sharks’ most recent first-round draft choices are getting the message.
Quinn has taken notice of forward Ozzy Wiesblatt every time he’s seen him so far, including the recent Rookie Faceoff, and thought William Eklund looked more involved in Saturday’s scrimmage than he was the day before.
Wiesblatt, picked 31st overall by the Sharks in 2020, wasn’t afraid to mix it up at the rookie event in San Jose, as he found himself in the middle of multiple post-whistle scrums. Wiesblatt, 20, didn’t get in anyone’s face in Saturday’s scrimmage but appeared to do some good things away from the puck.
“He’s been involved, even in the rookie camp, he was a guy that was involved, and that’s what he’s going to have to be,” Quinn said of Wiesblatt. “Most players his age, they’ve got to bring something to the table other than what they do with the puck because it’s so hard to be a productive young offensive player in this league.
“He’s been a guy that you’ve noticed because he’s been involved.”
Quinn said he saw some improvement from Eklund, picked seventh overall in 2021, and complimented him on how strong he looked on his skates for a player that’s listed at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds.
“One of the things smaller players have to do is they’re going to have a lot of anticipation in their game, not only offensively, but defensively,” said Quinn, who spoke with Eklund on Friday.
“(Eklund’s) not going to defend down low the same way (Tomas) Hertl does, right, because they’re just differently built players. He’s going to have to rely on his quickness, his anticipation, his stick, his body position, and those are things he’s going to have to be aware of.”
It was unclear Saturday if either Wiesblatt or Eklund would play in the Sharks’ preseason game with the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday at SAP Center.
GADJOVICH’S CAMP: Quinn said there’s a good chance the Sharks trim the size of their training camp roster shortly after Sunday’s game.
Forward Jonah Gadjovich doesn’t have to worry about that just yet, but he’s aware there’s no guarantee he’ll be on the Sharks’ roster before their Oct. 7 season-opener with the Nashville Predators.
Gadjovich, when healthy, was a steady presence in the Sharks’ lineup as a fourth-line winger for the second half of last season. But the Sharks have a deeper group of forwards now with the addition of forwards Steven Lorentz, Nico Sturm, and Luke Kunin, and Sturm, Lorentz, and Matt Nieto have been on a line together so far in camp.
“I think every guy in this room was brought here for a reason. Everyone wants to win,” Gadjovich said. “I know I have to earn a spot on this team and it’s not going to be easy, but I’m going do whatever I have to do.”
Gadjovich, 23, was signed to a one-year, two-way contract as a restricted free agent in the offseason. He had three points in 43 games last season but was quick to stand up for teammates, as he finished the year with 10 fights.
Gadjovich, though, wants to show he’s not a one-dimensional player. He scored 71 goals over 102 in his final two seasons in the OHL and had 28 goals in 57 games with Utica in the AHL from 2019 to 2021.
Gadjovich, who was claimed off of waivers by the Sharks last October, scored a pretty breakaway goal Saturday.
“I think he can play hockey, too,” Quinn said of Gadjovich. “He had a good year last year, and that’s the one thing (general manager) Mike (Grier) has done a really good job of is he’s created competition, which helps everybody. I think it motivates everybody and gets people out of their comfort zone. That’s what we have here.”
“I definitely think I have a better head on my shoulders this time around, getting a lot of experience last year at this level,” said Gadjovich, who worked on his skating in the offseason. “I’m here to make the team.”
BARABANOV INJURY: Winger Alexander Barabanov was injured in an early morning skate Saturday at Tech CU Arena and did not take part in the team’s scrimmage. Quinn, though, said he expected Barabanov to be OK to skate Sunday.
DONT WANT THE SMOKE: A smoke alarm inside Sharks Ice caused the late morning practice to be paused for roughly 15 minutes. Arena staff cleared the building as most patrons stood outside, and Sharks players and coaches waited in the adjacent hallway for the go-ahead to return. A fire truck arrived at the facility but no smoke was found.
BROADCAST SCHEDULE: The Sharks announced Saturday that 72 of the team’s 82 regular season games will be shown on NBC Sports California. The other 10 will be on either national television or ESPN+.
NBCSCA will also broadcast the Sharks’ exhibition game on Oct. 4 in Germany against Eisbaren-Berlin. Play-by-play announcer Randy Hahn will call all of the games on NBCSCA, joined either by Bret Hedican or Drew Remenda. Hedican and Remenda will also alternate providing color analysis alongside play-by-play announcer Dan Rusanowsky on the Sharks Audio Network.
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Author: Curtis Pashelka