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San Jose Barracuda

Kniazev Showing ‘More Swagger’ at Rookie Faceoff

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Credit: Dean Tait

It’s a more confident Artemi Kniazev this year.

That’s something for the San Jose Sharks to look forward to as they try and rebuild a defense decimated by the loss of Brent Burns.

The 2019 second-round pick made his AHL and NHL debuts last year after a productive career with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL.

However, it wasn’t a smooth transition to pro for the Russian rearguard. In his first 24 games with the San Jose Barracuda, the offense-first blueliner had just one goal and one assist. He finished the year with a bang though, piling up six goals and 20 assists in his last 36 contests.

Kniazev was putting up points for a bad team though: He tied with teammate Joachim Blichfeld for the worst plus-minus in the AHL with a -47.

Now that’s not a be-all, end-all stat, but safe to say, Kniazev has some work to do killing plays on the defensive end, and that’s exactly what ex-Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer indicated last year:

Kniazev Has Made “Big Strides” This Season

But there’s also no doubt that Kniazev is a real talent, which he saw in the first game of the San Jose Sharks’ Rookie Faceoff, a 3-2 OT victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

Kniazev is probably ticketed for the AHL this year, but he’s in a prospects group with Ryan Merkley, Nick Cicek, and Santeri Hatakka who could seize a job with the San Jose Sharks.

San Jose Hockey Now caught up with new Barracuda head coach John McCarthy and the recently-married Kniazev — congratulations! — to talk about the 21-year-old’s next step.

McCarthy, on what’s he liked about Kniazev so far:

He’s a smooth skater. I think that’s the strength of his game is that he can get around the ice very efficiently.

I think assertiveness [is better], I would say offensively and defensively.

That’s what you want to see in a second-year player, sometimes a first-year player comes in and they’re testing the waters a little bit. Whereas, see somebody with a little more confidence, a little more swagger, a little more I know what I’m doing, and I’m just going to do it and people can kind of read off me. I think he showed that a little bit last night.

The way he’s just carrying himself, which is just kind of a little more confident, it’s a good stride for him.

McCarthy, on Kniazev’s defensive improvement over the summer:

The theme with him last year was he was hesitating, that’s why he wasn’t killing plays.

It kind of speaks to his confidence this year, hey, I’m just gonna go. I’m going, I’m closing, I’m gonna end this play.

Kniazev, on what he focused on in his training this summer:

[Try to not] get really tired. Keep the pace.

Kniazev, on his improvement killing plays:

It comes with good physical shape, so I might lose less battles and can play harder

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Alaskan_ice

He did stand out. Good for him. I also saw the Furlong showed a poise and had good reads on incoming plays. As he grows, this will be something to improve on. I like that he’s a Shark.

david barnard

it’s gonna be hard to get rookie d-men into the lineup this season, even considering the type of game Ferraro plays lending itself to injury, and of course the ever fragile EK65. GMMG got some cover with flexible Nutivaara, and Vlasic can play both sides. Simek’s still with the team, so i don’t think they’ll be turning to rookies to plug temporary holes in the event of injury, but you never know. Kniazev could have a monster season with the Cuda and as a result get a cup of coffee with the big club.

david barnard

since there’s no game thread for the rookie tournament, i’ll post game 2 thoughts here. good to see Coe have a better/more noticeable game against COL. on Robins’ first goal he went behind the net and bodied an Av off the puck, stole it and fed it to Robins waiting at the side of the net for a pretty easy goal. i think it was Coe again along the half wall feeding a slick centering pass, again to a streaking Robins, who scored a very nice looking goal off the play. Coe’s playmaking looks pretty high level for a still… Read more »

KE

I haven’t got a chance to watch the full games yet and appreciate your assessment of the games. There should be a game thread and the interviews should be posted. I like Coe so it was nice to read his standout game. I did watch the clip where he pushed that Avs player off the puck and handled the puck like a boss. Avs best be concerned with their prospects if they want to continue the cup hunt. I hope they keep all the youngins down at the AHL level. Gotta get the Sharks on track again before ya start… Read more »

Alaskan_ice

It was a nice surprise to see how much Cardwell’s motor runs. The Ferraro comparison is spot on.

BryanMirkley6

Really fun to see more out of gushchin, coe and robins last night. With this many forwards showing some good instincts and skill I have to imagine at least one of them will develop.

jayjayf

can you please start posting stuff that’s news to me that I haven’t already posted lol getting old

Smokingmiddletons

I’ll be honest I didn’t see an nhl player. Furlong looked great though! Max McCue also stood out the whole second game for me.

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