The San Jose Sharks are back!
Here’s who I’m watching most closely in the pre-season opener tonight.
On one hand, Thrun acquitted himself well last year in his NHL cup of coffee, and head coach David Quinn has raved about him at every opportunity. On the other hand, the San Jose Sharks have 10 non-waiver exempt defensemen who have reasonable claims to be on the opening night roster. Thrun is waiver-exempt.
So hopefully, the 22-year-old kept getting better in the off-season. He’s got a lot of competition. He says that he focused on his skating and shot. It’s a subtle gain, but he’s confident in the improvement with his feet.
“Skating is something that I’ve noticed that there’s been a couple of times where I felt a little more comfortable, closing in on guys through the neutral zone and surfing them, as we call it. Getting back to pucks just like a half-a-step quicker. It’s something that, to the naked eye, might be tough to see, but for me, it’s a confidence thing. Something that might not show up as wow this guy can fly around the ice now, but more just to me, I’m more comfortable doing this and doing that,” Thrun explained. “The shooting aspect, that’s something that we’ll see. I feel my one-timer from the point is down, a little bit better. Hopefully it shows in some of the games, but time will tell with that.”
Bordeleau has been put in a position to succeed so far in camp, utilized in his natural center position, and mostly with top wingers Anthony Duclair and Alexander Barabanov.
Quinn said, matter of fact, on Friday: “This is a commitment to see what he’s got, period. Not just at center. I want to put him with really good players, and here it is, here’s his opportunity. It’s a great opportunity for him.”
Will the top prospect, perhaps in a bit of a post-hype phase, begin to play the 200-foot game that the Sharks have been looking for from him?
There’s been a buzz around Zadina so far in camp.
His camp linemate Mike Hoffman, he of 214 career NHL goals, raved, “He’s really impressed me. When he’s got the puck on his stick, he’s one of the craftiest and best skaters with the puck, that I think I’ve ever seen. He’s very shifty and quick and he’s got a good shot and can make stuff happen.”
Quinn also spoke highly of Zadina’s compete, which is just as important to securing his place with the San Jose Sharks as his skill is.
Of course, camp is camp, practice is practice. Zadina will have to produce to stay in the NHL, so we’ll see if the 2018 sixth-overall pick can begin to do that tonight.
Everybody knows that Okhotiuk loves the physical game, but he’s been getting positive reviews for his puck-moving too. That’s a little bit of a surprise for a player who’s been said to be not as strong in that department.
“For a big guy, he’s smooth,” his camp partner Kyle Burroughs said. “He’s distributed the puck well. You’ve seen those goals that he scored, he’s got some slick hands.”
Like Thrun, Okhotiuk might be caught in the numbers game on the San Jose Sharks blueline. Unlike Thrun, Okhotiuk is not waiver-exempt.
Sweet hands from Okhotiuk! pic.twitter.com/LdwCD2N5vx
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) September 22, 2023
If Okhotiuk’s puck-moving is even respectable at the NHL level, he could have a long career at the highest level.
San Jose Sharks (0-0-0)
Vegas Golden Knights (0-0-0)
Laroque will play tonight instead of Benning https://t.co/goMLr4fBro
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) September 24, 2023
David Quinn said Kaapo Kahkonen would start and go the whole way, and also said that Matt Benning is healthy enough to play if it were a regular season game.
Quinn confirms that Raska and Cagnoni will be extras tonight. Says Zadina-Hertl-Hoffman & Barabanov-Bordeleau-Duclair will line up together.
Also roster cuts coming tomorrow
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) September 24, 2023
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights is 5 PM PT at SAP Center. Watch it on NHL Network and sanjosesharks.com. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.
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