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Hatakka: ‘There’s a spot open, so I’ll go and try to get that’



Credit: Dean Tait

Preparing for his second season in San Jose, Santeri Hatakka is well aware of the opportunity he has to move up to the Sharks.

Recent changes have created openings in the San Jose Sharks defense, particularly on the right side. Often playing on the right side out of necessity, the left-shot Hatakka knows his flexibility will give him an advantage.

“I have played almost two years on the right side, it’s helped a lot,” Hatakka said. “There’s a spot open, so I’ll go and try to get that spot.”

For the San Jose Sharks’ first game of the 2022 Rookie Faceoff, Hatakka played on the right side with fellow 21-year-old Artemi Kniazev. Youngsters Kniazev, Hatakka, Ryan Merkley, and Nick Cicek should compete for a job with the Sharks this fall.

“[Hatakka’s] a smooth skater,” Barracuda head coach John McCarthy said. “He can get up ice, he can join plays, those are his strengths. Whatever side he’s on, those things are kind of constant. So it doesn’t really affect his game much.”

McCarthy pointed out the penalty kill as an area where Hatakka can set himself apart from his peers.

“[Hatakka] is a smooth skater, most people think he’s a power play specialist,” McCarthy said. “At the next level, I don’t know if he’ll necessarily be that. So for him to finetune his penalty killing skills, shot blocking, angles, stick details … I think that’s going to be the key for him to make the next step.”

McCarthy agreed that he sees a comparison of Hatakka to former San Jose Sharks stalwart and teammate Justin Braun.

“[Braun] has made a living on first pass and getting up ice … he’s seeing a simple play, and he’s making a single,” McCarthy said. “I think that’s something that [Hatakka] could also bring.”

Hatakka said while he worked on all areas of his game during the offseason, he put emphasis on his strength, adding about five pounds. Hatakka was happy to hear the gains were visible.

“I hope so, I’ve been working out for months,” Hatakka beamed, “Thank you, thank you.”

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