Going into camp it's a pretty well known fact around the team that 19 year old Mirco Mueller is going to get more than his fair chance at making the San Jose Sharks roster for opening night.
Listed at 6'3" 195lbs on the Sharks website, Mueller is a steady, defensive defenseman who won't be lighting up the scoresheet anytime soon. That's OK, though, because Brent Burns is moving back to defense and will provide enough running around for everyone.
Mueller was the most notable player to not check-in for Everett's training camp in the WHL due to his PA meetings and the upcoming Sharks camp. In articles that feature comments from the Everett coaching staff there is reason to believe that they don't see their star d-man coming back to junior anytime soon.
The question is who will Mueller push out of the starting lineup? Here are the Sharks defensemen listed on the active roster by Cap Geek.
If we go by those names we can assume that the first four are locks for the blueline. That leaves Scott Hannan and Matt Irwin's spots up for grabs. Doug Wilson has said that the Sharks will be younger heading into the season, so can we guess Hannan will be the odd man out of the above group? I would say so.
Hannan had horrible numbers from last season and was the Sharks biggest defensive liability when he was on the ice. When Hannan was on the ice last year the Sharks enjoyed their worst save percentage (.899). He also carried an astounding -13.6 Corsi Rel. Hannan took 0.7 more penalties/60 than he drew, the highest of any Sharks defender.
The 35 year old defender is surely past his prime, which may or may not have actually existed, and would be better suited for the press box until a final decision is made on Mirco Mueller's 2014/15 status.
I'm not letting Matt Irwin off the hook that easy, though.
Taylor Doherty is 6'7", 235 lbs, of beast and has been toiling in the AHL for parts of the last three seasons. He's shown a steady rise in his quality of play and ability to shut down opposing forces over the course of his young AHL career. Every team in the league would like a giant shut-down defender, but it's easier said than done. For the Sharks it's the perfect time. They are down legitimate NHL defenders for the last two positions and throwing Doherty in for the first few games wouldn't hurt anyone, at least to see where his development is at.
As for Irwin, well, his numbers from last season are almost as terrible as Hannan's, which is why I didn't give his spot away first. He did have a good offensive output for only his second season with the Sharks, but I want to see the 6'7" Doherty play, and I bet the Sharks do too.
I'm not saying keep Doherty up forever, I'm saying give him a taste. Let everyone, management and fans, see what this big kid can do playing against NHL competition and give him something to work toward when he rejoins his AHL teammates.
When the Sharks open the season I want to see Burns, Vlasic, Demers, Braun, Mueller and Doherty on the bench. Mueller should be a guarantee for the simple fact that the Sharks cannot ice six better defenders with a straight face, and that will be apparent during training camp and the pre-season.
On a side note, I'm trying to find out where Nikolay Goldobin is. The guy is like a ghost, a Russian ninja. There's no news or hints as to what this kid is doing right now, so if you know, please tell me.
That's all for now, thanks for reading.