Nick Cicek thinks of himself as “the grandpa” of San Jose Sharks’ development camp.
On Day 2 of camp, we caught up with three of the team’s key defensive prospects. Henry Thrun talked about his friendship with Will Smith. 23-year-old Cicek discussed mentoring younger players, including his former Portland Winterhawks teammate and 2023 fourth-round pick Luca Cagnoni. Mattias Havelid took us behind his “tough season”.
Thrun on his time at the World Championships with the San Jose Sharks’ coaching staff:
I started to get a little bit more feedback with how they want me to play, in regards to just being solid and trying not to do too much. If you look around the NHL, usually one team’s got a pretty offensive guy. We got one that’s pretty good himself, so he takes care of that. I think the rest of us [are] relied on to be responsible and someone that can move the puck to the forwards and play in all situations.
Thrun, on how the Sharks replace an Erik Karlsson:
Oh, gosh. What did he have, 101 points this year? (laughs) Divide that by six or seven. That’s a pretty good chunk per guy.
If he’s not here, we’ll have to run the power play, which is a pretty big responsibility. But other than that, everyone that plays at this level is pretty skilled and probably has produced offense at some point in their career. So I think it’ll be distributed evenly, but I think it’s gonna be pretty difficult to make up for what he provides the Sharks.
Thrun on his relationship with Will Smith:
He was someone, when he was 16, going out to the NTDP, that’s when I started to hear who he was and that he was a pretty special player. He started to jump in with some of the older guys, some of the college players. You could tell right away he was pretty good player. The past two years I’ve [trained] with him during the summer.
He’s obviously a really highly, highly skilled player. Can make plays and can finish. That’s someone that I think is a good player to build a franchise around.
Thrun on the competition for spots on the Sharks’ blue line:
It’s healthy competition. As you mentioned, some older guys that are coming in and a lot of good younger prospects. So I think that’s something everybody in this organization. That’s what’s gonna make us a successful playoff team. So for us, it’s a long process, I think we’re just getting started with the turnaround of this organization. I think there’s really good product to come from us.
Thrun, on NHL’ers that he practices with in the summer:
The only ex-Shark is Ryan Donato. It’s a good crew. Colin White’s there, Brian Dumoulin’s there. Kevin Hayes is there. We have a pretty good group in Boston.
Thrun on graduating Harvard:
I didn’t walk, but I did graduate. I was in Finland during it, so I got my diploma in the mail.
Cicek on mentoring younger players at camp:
It’s interesting, definitely a different feeling. I don’t mind it. I like being a leader in the group and in the dressing room. I like taking young kids under my wing, showing them how they expect us to act on the ice and off the ice. It’s been really fun so far.
Cicek on previously playing with San Jose Sharks draft pick Luca Cagnoni:
Great kid. I got to play with him one year in Portland. Super-skilled when he came in undrafted. I remember my D coach telling me, “Just watch this kid at practice.” He’s great on his edges, super-smooth skater. Has that offensive touch to him that I never had, so I was a little bit jealous of that. He’s a great kid off the ice and super-fun playing with him on the ice. I’m excited that he came to San Jose with that draft pick and hopefully he can flourish here.
Cicek on his reaction to seeing Cagnoni drafted:
Super excited. I texted my dad right away. I said, “It’s such a small world.” I mean, the hockey world is crazy like that. You always run into those players on and off. It’s nice to have those relationships and to continue it. I’ve been talking to him all week. I told him, “If you ever need anything, you can talk to me.” I’m the grandpa here right now, so I’m trying to help them out as much as I can.
Cicek on his mentors when starting with the San Jose Sharks:
I had guys like Scott Reedy, who was my roommate for the last couple years. He’s been traded now, but he took me under his wing. My first development camp was a while ago, so it’s hard to remember.
I remember in my first main camp, I was following Karlsson around because it’s Erik Karlsson. Superstar.
But, everybody in this organization is very outgoing. Everyone wants to help. They want to see people succeed. It’s nice to see because in the end, we’re all a team here. We want to get better together. That’s what I’m trying to do now.
Havelid on eventually signing an entry-level contract with the San Jose Sharks:
We’ve talked a little bit, back and forth, but nothing special. They’ve told me that I need to develop and I know I have to develop before I can go over and feel ready. Doing what feels best for me at the moment [by returning to Linkoping], and then we’ll see in the future.
Havelid on his most recent season:
It was a tough season. I got injured in the beginning of September. I hoped to play the first game of the [season], but that didn’t happen. I came back, played one game in late October, and then felt the injury right away again. So I was out for the whole first half of the season.
Came back right after the New Year’s break and felt great. I think I performed good after. Felt good. My game wasn’t on point at the start but I felt like I picked it up pretty quick. So it was a pretty bad season for me, but at the end of it, I’m pretty happy.
Havelid, on how he’s recovering from the injury:
It’s good. I haven’t felt it since I started playing again. It was a lower back injury.
Havelid on his teammate Filip Bystedt’s growth:
He had a big year last year. Really took steps in the pro league. So it’s really fun. I see him being more confident on the ice and that helps him a lot. He has good shot and he uses his shot, scores goals. He’s a skilled player as well, even though he’s big, he is skilled. He tries to use [that skill] and it works for him. Really fun to watch him.
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