Goldobin, Mueller Will Benefit From Playing With Barracuda
SAN JOSE — After spending most of the 2014-15 season in the NHL, Mirco Mueller received the disappointing news over the weekend: he will be starting the year with the Barracuda.
Head coach Peter DeBoer trimmed his roster down to 23 players on Monday, which means that Mueller and forward Nikolay Goldobin will be practicing with the Barracuda when the Sharks open the season in Los Angeles against the Kings on Wednesday.
“I’m obviously disappointed,” Mueller said. “But it’s not the end of the world. I could be up any day. I’ll just give my best every day I’m on the ice.”
In the long run, both Mueller and Goldobin should benefit from seeing more ice time and playing bigger roles in the AHL.
Last year, Mueller’s development was hindered by the decision to keep him on the NHL roster. Over the last four months of the season, he played in just 18 games because of his participation in the World Junior Championships, an upper-body injury and inconsistent play. He finished the year averaging 16 minutes and 58 seconds of ice time in 39 games played.
With the Barracuda, the Sharks 2013 first-round draft pick will get to play 20-plus minutes a night on a top pairing while also getting experience on the power play and the penalty kill.
“It’ll give him a chance to grow and try new things without worrying about turning the puck over,” Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer said. “That’s the biggest difference to me. He’s going to continue to get out there if he makes mistakes with us. Whereas up there, you make a couple mistakes, and it costs you a game or two, that’s pretty unacceptable.”
Sommer said consistent playing time should give Mueller more confidence in the long run, too.
“A young guy, when he sits and he’s watching, when he gets out there, he’s nervous. I don’t care who you are, you don’t want to mess up,” Sommer said. “And when you don’t want to mess up, how do you play? You stiffen up. You’re not habitual and you don’t do things the way you do when you’re just naturally playing.”
Mueller acknowledged that he needs to play with more consistency and aggressiveness to be an everyday NHL player.
“That’s the reason why I wasn’t playing all year [last season]. I think I have the tools to be a day in, day out player,” Mueller said. “It’ll be good to get some minutes in down here.”
Like Mueller, Goldobin will also grow as a player in the AHL.
The Sharks 2014 first-round pick impressed DeBoer enough with his playmaking ability to hang with the team through the entire preseason and earn a spot on the top line against the Vancouver Canucks on Sept. 29.
But Goldobin will also benefit from being a top-line player in the AHL rather than playing a fourth line role with the Sharks.
“Nothing against Brownie (Mike Brown) and Torres (Raffi Torres) and those guys, but how much is he going to create with those guys,” Sommer said. “He has to play with skill otherwise you’re wasting him.”
Goldobin, who was pleased with his training camp, also recognized that playing with the Barracuda is probably in his best interest. In the AHL, Goldobin can further develop his two-way game and the tighten screws on the details in all three zones.
“I think it’s better for me,” Goldobin said. “Get my play level [up], score some goals.”
Karlsson Conditions With Barracuda: Melker Karlsson joined Mueller and Goldobin at Barracuda practice on Monday, participating in contact drills for the first time since camp opened.
Karlsson is a waiver exemption, which means he can practice and play with the Barracuda without an official conditioning assignment.
“I’m maybe not a 100 percent now, but I’m definitely there. It’s good to skate with these guys,” Karlsson said. “I’ll just skate and get my condition back and my hands and feet and everything.”
While Karlsson is ruled out for the Sharks opener against the Kings, he could potentially play in the Barracuda’s first game against the Rockford IceHogs at SAP Center on Friday or the Sharks home opener against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.
The 25-year-old said his health is still day-to-day at this point.
“It’s fun to be out there and finally play some hockey,” Karlsson said.
Barracuda Moves: The Sharks weren’t the only team busy making cuts on Monday.
The Barracuda released forwards Greger Hanson, Gary Steffes, Mike DiPaolo and defensemen David Makowski and Justin Baker, sending them to their ECHL affiliate, the Allen Americans.
The team also signed defenseman Danny Federico to a two-way ECHL/ AHL contract before reassigning him to the Americans with goalie Joel Rumpel, who’s under contract with the Sharks.
The Barracuda also released forwards Alex Gallant and Jonathan Parker and defenseman Phil Pietroniro.
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