This offseason San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson was not very busy and that was partly because he did not have much room to make many roster moves. Rather than adding big-name free agents, Wilson decided to re-sign Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture to long-term contracts which all but locked up the next few years of the franchise.
However, as far as additions go, there was not much Wilson could do because he was handcuffed by a plethora of other big contracts. Nonetheless, Wilson was able to pull one off when he landed forward Tyler Kennedy for a second-round pick. Early on this season he was also able to add some grit to the lineup by adding Mike Brown. Lastly, throw in a couple of young rookies fresh from Worcester and you have the four newcomers who have make a huge impact on the Sharks already.
We will start with Tyler Kennedy, who was the first to be acquired during this past NHL draft. So far this season Kennedy has a modest two goals and four assists in 15 games. He has been featured mostly on the top two lines as a winger but has struggled to put up points at times. Still, he has been effective and has no problem throwing pucks on net constantly, something that the coaching staff preaches night in and night out.
Next on the list is Mike Brown who so far this season has been in and out of the Sharks lineup depending on San Jose’s opponent. This season he has yet to register a point but does have 14 penalty minutes including two fights. While we have had a limited look so far at him during his first four games in teal there is plenty to like.
Brown reminds me a little bit of Brent Burns in the way that he approaches the game; reckless. He has no problem flying around the ice and laying some hits (eight in fact so far this season) and his speed can be a factor, as well.
Moving on to the rookies and, in particular, Matt Nieto. His stat line has been impressive thus far (two goals and four assists in 13 games) and has been featured mainly on the third line with Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels. That line as a whole has been fantastic all season, and Nieto has been a big part of that. His speed has made a big difference in the lineup and has helped stretch the defense.
Lastly, but definitely not least, is rookie phenom Tomas Hertl. He has nine goals and four assists and at the moment is San Jose’s leading goal scorer, although he has been quite streaky in that department. Still, he is a threat to score every time he steps onto the ice. The one thing I hope to see pick up is a positive influence on the second unit of the power play, something which has still been lacking.
Although the Sharks did not make many changes during the offseason, their ability to promote from within has turned out well so far this season. Also, I do believe the Sharks are looking for more point production out of Tyler Kennedy considering the trade cost them a second round pick, but since we are still early enough into the season that issue has not really come up yet.