Rink Notes: Wilson Says Sharks Need To Add More Goalies
SAN JOSE — The question on every San Jose Sharks fan’s mind heading into the summer’s annual free agency bonanza is whether the team will add another goaltender before next season.
The answer is yes.
With Antti Niemi’s unrestricted free agency looming, the Sharks’ goaltending situation is as cloudy as a summer night in San Francisco right now. But at least one thing is clear: the organization will throw a new face into the mix before training camp starts in September.
“Will we be adding more goaltenders? The answer’s yes,” general manager Doug Wilson said.
Wilson said the Sharks still believe in Alex Stalock, who had a down year (2.62 goals-against average, .902 save percentage) in 2014-15 while seeing limited playing time (19 starts) after posting a 1.87 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage two seasons ago.
The Sharks also like Troy Grosenick, who provided one of the season’s bright spots on Nov.16, pitching a 45-save shutout against the Carolina Hurricanes in his NHL debut before suffering an upper-body injury two days later. The team will also give a look to 24-year-old Joel Rumpel, who signed as a free agent out of the University of Wisconsin in March.
“But we need to add more goalies, we do,” Wilson said. “How we do that, there’s several different avenues.”
Wilson is rumored to be interested in New York Rangers backup, Cam Talbot, who posted a 2.26 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage in 36 appearances last year, Vancouver Canucks backup Eddie Lack and Ottawa Senators prospect Robin Lehner.
What about Niemi? Is there a chance the Sharks will resign the 31-year-old netminder?
Wilson wouldn’t tip his hand, but he did speak glowingly about the Finnish netminder, saying the Sharks’ ineffective penalty kill and spotty team defense played a role in his subpar performance last season.
“He’s a highly competitive guy that never points fingers,” Wilson said. “Would he tell you that he wished maybe he’d had some better games? Yeah, that’s just his nature. But to me, as a group, we did not play well.”
Raffi’s Recovery: The biggest blow to the Sharks’ playoff chances last season may have come during training camp when it became apparent that Raffi Torres’ surgically repaired right knee wasn’t healthy.
Throughout the year, the Sharks missed Torres’ presence in the locker room, the fire he ignites on the bench and the intimidation factor that he brings to the ice.
After receiving his third ACL surgery since 2008 in February, Torres’ recovery is apparently right on track and Wilson expects him to be ready for training camp in September.
“Right on course,” Wilson said.
What can the Sharks realistically expect out of a 33-year-old forward who’s undergone three knee surgeries in seven years?
Wilson said Torres is in a group of “three or four players” that he isn’t 100 percent certain about.
“Do we think he’s going to come back? Yeah, we do,” Wilson said. “But we’re realists. I think we’ve missed him a lot.”
The Sharks general manager said he’s optimistic that Torres can return to form because he witnessed defenseman Gary Suter’s comeback from a staph infection and three surgeries in his triceps at age 35 during the 1999-00 season.
“You’ve got to be a fitness guy, you’ve got to love the game,” Wilson said. “Both of those guys share that.”
Wilson also said that Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body), Tomas Hertl (knee), Matt Nieto (ankle ) and Mirco Mueller (thumb) are fully healed from injuries suffered last year.
Roy The Boy: The San Jose Sharks announced on Friday that Roy Sommer will return for his 18th season behind the bench of their AHL franchise in 2015-16.
The San Jose Barracuda’s head coach holds the record for most games coached in the AHL (1,344), and with 617 career wins, he needs just 19 more victories to become the league’s all-time winningest coach.
The 58-year-old Oakland-native, who won the Roller Hockey International title in 1995 with the San Jose Rhinos, said his return to the Bay Area this year completes a circle.
“It’s good to be back home. It’s full circle,” Sommer said. “It’s like getting born and you go through midlife and then [you get] old, in diapers again.”
When asked if he’ll be wearing diapers behind the Barracuda’s bench next season, Sommer joked: “I don’t know about that, I had an operation to fix that this year.”