Connect with us

San Jose Barracuda

Sommer on Merkley: “Still got a ways to go before he makes an impact at the NHL.”



Credit: San Jose Barracuda

Ryan Merkley has had a quiet start to his professional career, but is making some noise now with two assists in three games.

“He’s still got a ways to go before he makes an impact at the NHL level,” head coach Roy Sommer said Saturday morning. “He’s ‘work in progress.’”

This season, Merkley did not impress enough in training camp to make the San Jose Sharks’ roster or taxi squad. Now a month into the AHL season, San Jose’s top prospect should be feeling more comfortable. Merkley earned his second career assist in the Barracuda’s 3-1 win over the Ontario Reign Sunday night.

Halfway through the first period, Merkley picked up a loose puck along the boards and quickly slung a pass to fellow young defender Brinson Pasichnuk. Kurtis Gabriel tipped in Pasichnuk’s one-timer for a goal to net Merkley his second assist in three games.

Merkley recorded his first professional point against the Texas Stars on Feb. 13 the primary assist on a Joachim Blichfeld goal. 

“The biggest thing with him is he’s just got a lot of offensive capabilities,” Sommer said. “He sees the ice real well on the offensive blue line. He’ll find guys off the side of the net, where most guys aren’t able to make a play.”

This is nothing new about Merkley. The 20-year-old has always been showered with praise for his creativity, quick hands, and smooth skating while being criticized for defensive play or attitude issues. Last year, Merkley made his final OHL season his best by scoring 76 points in 60 games for the London Knights.

Now in his first full season with the San Jose Sharks organization, Merkley has earned more responsibility. He plays alongside team captain Jaycob Megna, but frequently has the puck on his stick, whether it’s while running the breakout or second power play unit. Nick DeSimone quarterbacks the top PP unit.

“He’s still got to work on building his motor up a little bit,” Sommer said. “But other than that, he’s been pretty good.”

Blichfeld stays hot

The Barracuda continued to wash away their rocky first period performance yesterday by controlling the game from start to finish today. San Jose recorded a season-high 47 shots on goal and held Ontario to just 20, helping out goaltender Josef Korenar, who made his season debut this weekend by playing the entirety of back-to-back games. Korenar had not seen any game time while on the San Jose Sharks’ taxi squad.

The Reign tied the game early in the second period, but it was short-lived. On the power play, Blichfeld patiently picked his spot with a wrist shot to re-take the lead. Blichfeld’s first power play goal of the season extended his scoring streak to five games. 

Blichfeld added an empty-netter late in the third period to seal the 3-1 win. The 22-year-old Dane leads the Barracuda with six goals and three assists in just six games. 

Next week, San Jose will play three games on the road in Bakersfield and San Diego before hosting the Condors inside SAP Center on Mar. 9.

Welcome to your new home for San Jose Sharks breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to SJHN+ for all of our members-only content from Sheng Peng and the National Hockey Now network plus an ad-free browsing experience.
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

So happy to have you join Brian, consistent Cuda Coverage is going to be great as normally I’m a season ticket holder for Cuda.

Gary To

Great articule Brian! Sure gonna enjoy these updates and analysis from the Cuda!


Really hope Merkley can develop. If he works out then between him, Ferraro, and Knyzhov the Sharks will have a good D core for years to come.

david barnard

Kniazev down the road a bit as well. i expect the Sharks will also pick up a good d-man in the 2021 D heavy entry draft too.

Sheng Peng

Hatakka’s got a decent shot as well. Not a deep group, but just having Ferraro headline it, he seems to be the real deal as a top-4 guy, is a great start

[…] After line-up changes that saw 10 players moved between the NHL and AHL rosters, the Barracuda were also shut out, 6-0 by the Bakersfield Condors earlier tonight. This was after a 2-0 start to the Barracuda’s home schedule. […]

[…] been fairly quiet with the Barracuda, with one goal and nine assists through 28 games. In February, head coach Roy Sommer said Merkley has “still got a ways to go before he makes an impact at the NHL […]

Sheng’s Travel Fund

Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.

Click here to contribute to Sheng's travel pool!

Get SJHN in your inbox!

Enter your email address to get all of our articles delivered directly to your inbox.

Extra Hour Hockey Training

Cathy’s Power Skating

Sharks Team & Cap Info

SJHN on Facebook

All the San Jose Sharks news that's fit to print

Enter your email to get the best Sharks coverage delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.