San Jose Sharks: New captain, same goal as training camp begins

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - MAY 13: Logan Couture #39 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates his goal against the St. Louis Blues with Timo Meier #28 and Brenden Dillon #4 in Game Two of the Western Conference Final during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 13, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - MAY 13: Logan Couture #39 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates his goal against the St. Louis Blues with Timo Meier #28 and Brenden Dillon #4 in Game Two of the Western Conference Final during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 13, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The San Jose Sharks announce a new leader to guide the team this season with the ambitions of going the distance once again as training camp gets underway.

Without question, the San Jose Sharks made the right call in naming Logan Couture, the next captain before the start of camp.

After the departure of longtime Shark and former captain, Joe Pavelski, the next man up for the captaincy became apparent long before in Couture’s play on the ice.

At age 30, Couture fits perfectly in bridging the young players and the veteran players in the locker room. His rise amongst being a top performer on the Sharks and the NHL should come as no surprise for the former first-round pick back in 2007.

With an eight-year extension starting this year, Couture hopes to lead San Jose to a Stanley Cup.

An honest evaluator on his game and his teammates, Couture is not afraid to voice his opinion on nightly performances. In general, being vocal is a new area for Couture and must find a balance being the new captain on and off the ice.

With Couture being named the 10th captain in Sharks’ franchise history, the team can focus on preparing for the upcoming season. Roster spots are open at the forward position, and Doug Wilson is allowing players in the farm system to make an impression to be in the opening night lineup.

Players to watch for at the forward position: Sasha Chmelevski, Alexander True, Ivan Chekhovich, Dylan Gambrell, and Antti Suomela.

Gambrell is a near guarantee to center the fourth line but is going to have competition after a promising outlook by a few Sharks’ rookies in a recent tournament down in Irvine. His hockey IQ is active, but cannot expect to skate through training camp assuming he already on the roster.

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Suomela will likely be under the most scrutiny by the Sharks’ coaches after signing with San Jose last season. After reportedly being sought out by half the league, Suomela did not appear comfortable transitioning from larger rinks in Europe to smaller arenas in North America.

His time with the Sharks did not last long, eventually getting sent to the San Jose Barracuda. In the AHL, the struggles in adjusting to the smaller ice kept Suomela from getting back into the NHL, finishing with 20 points in 47 games.

After leading the Barracuda in scoring, True could find himself playing the opener against Las Vegas. Both True and Gambrell will be battling to be the fourth line centerman but True will likely end up playing on the wing if he can carry success from last season into the preseason games.

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In the prospect’s tournament down at the Anaheim Ducks’ new facility in Irvine, Chmelevski stood out most notably in the three games played.

At 20-years-old, he is coming off an impressive campaign in juniors with the Ottawa 67’s. Regardless if he makes the lineup or sent to the Barracuda for seasoning, expect Chmelevski to make an appearance at some point this year.

Finally, Chekhovich made an immediate impact after being assigned to the Barracuda before their Calder Cup Playoff run last season. He tallied four points in five games and chipped in three points in four games in the playoffs.

Outlook for the Forwards: All five players will see NHL action during the season. Consistency is going to factor in terms of being ready to play an 82-game season.

Coach Peter DeBoer stated he gives all of his payers at least 6-8 minutes of ice time. For the younger players, taking full advantage of the ice time will decide a spot on the Sharks or a place on the Barracuda.

Players to watch for on defense: Radim Simek, Nick DeSimone, Mario Ferraro, Ryan Merkley, and Jeremy Roy.

San Jose will once again boast the most active blue line in the NHL after Erik Karlsson re-signed with the Sharks on an eight-year deal.

Along with Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and coach Bob Boughner rejoining the coaching staff, the defense is going to cause nightmares for the opposition.

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Simek is likely going to be the sixth defenseman, but his health is one concern after sustaining a knee injury last season. Not only did the injury end his season, but the Sharks’ also began to unravel after his absence. Hopefully, he can regain his form before the season starts.

DeSimone is going to compete with Tim Heed for the seventh-man spot after leading all Barracuda defensemen in points last season with 46. A decent training camp for DeSimone could vault him over Heed and possibly playing time early in the year.

Ferraro and Merkley both played well during the rookie tournament and could perhaps be the next critical blueliners for the Sharks in the coming years. Both will unlikely not see any action with the Sharks this year but should continue developing in the right direction.

Ferraro and Merkley should take a page from Timo Meier after he almost made the opening night lineup after being drafted. The two should not feel disappointed given the players in front of them.

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Both players should compete and leave Coach DeBoer pondering about the two once training camp concludes.

Roy is in a make or break season after the Sharks selected him in the second round of the 2015 NHL Draft. Two significant knee injuries kept Roy from developing into the defenseman Sharks’ management hoped after targeting him in the draft.

With the wounds in the past, Roy needs a productive training camp or fall down the depth chart in the Sharks’ farm system.

Outlook for the defensemen: Unless an injury occurs during the season, do not expect any callups as the top-six appear set for the year.

Between the pipes, Martin Jones is the undisputed starter and will undoubtedly want to forget last season’s inconsistent efforts. The backup position is one area to keep an eye on as Aaron Dell is going to get competition from Barracuda goalies Antoine Bibeau and Josef Korenar.

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Hockey is coming soon, and the San Jose Sharks will have a few new faces looking to make an impact in all aspects. With Couture now taking over as the captain, the focus remains of standing alone at the top and winning the Stanley Cup.