By: Joe Lami
SAN JOSE, Calif.—
Around 9,000 Sharks fans showed up to SAP Center at San Jose on Saturday, as the Sharks hosted their first ever rookie game at the tank. With this event, the Sharks follow suit of many of the Canadian teams that allow fans experience to the rookie games in person.
The fans went home happy, as the Sharks beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-1, thanks to a great goaltending performance by undrafted Joel Rumpel. Rumpel, who played his college hockey for the Wisconsin Badgers, earned the third star in the win as he was able to shut down the Ducks’ offensive bombardment.
A couple of takeaways to take from the rookie game are the Sharks have a few very promising prospects.
Joonas Donskoi stole the show for the Sharks, as he lit the lamp twice earning the first star in the process. Donskoi was one of the older players to play in the game, making it hard to call him a rookie at 23 years old going against 18, 19 and 20-year-olds. The fin started his professional career for Karpat of the Finnish league. Last year, he finished with 49 points in just 58 games. His play reminds a lot of current Shark, Melker Karlsson. Karlsson came over from the Swedish league last season and earned 24 points in 53 games during his rookie season with San Jose. Donskoi has the best shot out of any of the rookies to make the Sharks this year and can very well be 2016′s version of Karlsson for team teal.
Rourke Chartier also had a great performance for San Jose. He scored on a wicked wrist shot from the top of the left circle. Barracuda coach, Roy Sommer, said after the game that Chartier was his favorite player on the ice. Chartier, just a 19-year old, could challenge for a roster spot this year. The fifth round pick from the 2014 draft is also eligible for one more season with Kelowna of the WHL does hurt his chances, however. He scored 82 points in 58 games last year for the Rockets.
San Jose’s most popular prospect, Nikolay Goldobin, finished the game with an empty-net goal and an assist. His assist was a beauty, as he earned the helper on the Chartier tally. Goldobin made a play at the right side-wall and was able to make a cross-ice pass to the tape of Chartier, who fired it into the top left corner of the net. Goldobin is rumored to have one of the best chances for rookies to make the Sharks, but is still very young and has a lot to do to prove he’s NHL ready.
Goldobin is unyielding on the puck and has great pursuit of the puck. He constantly moves in the offensive zone trying to create himself a lane to gain time for his great shot. He’s put some weight on, as he looks a lot bigger than he did at camp in July. However, the biggest hole in his game is still on the back end. Goldobin constantly over pursues the puck and is terrible when it comes to defensive position. He needs to learn how important position can be in the NHL. He needs to learn how to take away passing lanes rather than playing the puck when it’s nowhere near him. Luckily, last night the Sharks got away with a few of his mistakes but come regular season when NHL veterans are on the attack, they won’t get away with them. His offensive presence is outstanding, but it’s going to be his play in his own end that will keep him off of the Sharks’ roster to start the year. If he can prove he can improve his defensive game, there’s no doubt he will be a Shark in the near future.
Jeremy Roy, San Jose’s second-round selection in this year’s draft, was the last of the rookies that impressed me on Saturday. Roy did a great job shutting down the Ducks. He was constantly facing Nick Ritchie, the Ducks top prospect and Roy completely shut him down. There was one play that comes to mind, as Ritchie received the puck all alone at the blue line and would have been able to dance his way on net, but Roy got back and was able to poke the puck away. Roy had a few sneaky shots, as he is known as a two-way defenseman, but his strength is definitely on the back end. He reminds a lot of Marc-Edouard Vlasic with his play as he will be the pillar of the Sharks’ blue line a few years down the road. There is zero chance he makes the roster this year, as he is only 18 years old. It was announced earlier on Sunday that the Sharks and Roy have agreed on his three-year entry level deal.