Center James Sheppard put up 24 points in 34 games this season with the AHL affiliate in Worcester. He has yet to play an NHL game after being traded by the Minnesota Wild in 2011 for a third-round pick. San Jose tendered a contract to the restricted free agent to retain his rights last summer, but it was left unsigned.
He has now signed a two-way contract for one year. Team policy prohibits releasing contract details, but Cap Geek lists the contract at $825,000 in the NHL and $105,000 if he is in the minors. (Note all contracts are pro-rated from an 82-game season to a 48-game season.)
They show the other skater the Sharks re-signed for one year, defenseman Nick Petrecki, playing under a $650,000 two-way contract that pays $107,500 if he is in the minors as he is listed on their site. However, the 2007 first-round pick that has yet to play an NHL game has actually made the opening night roster, replacing the injured Jason Demers.
The fact that the injured Brent Burns is on the roster suggests he is closer to returning than Demers. By re-assigning Matt Tennyson, Matt Pelech, Bracken Kearns and John McCarthy to Worcester, the Sharks reached the 23-man limit. That leaves the Sharks with about $4 million in cap room.
Sheppard was expected to make the roster, but Petrecki has never played more than 68 games or scored more than 14 points in four seasons at Worcester. He also spends a lot of time in the penalty box: 395 PIM (penalties in minutes) over 216 AHL games, 263 PIM in 77 NCAA games, 287 PIM in 107 USHL games and 159 in one 53-game EJHL season.
The team has given no word on who will be in the lineup. The blue line and forward combinations reported by CSN Bay Area at the outset of camp had Douglas Murray on the third pair with Tennyson, the only way for them to be maintained would be to sit Murray for two players who have never seen NHL action.
All indications are that Matt Irwin will be dressed, but it is unlikely he will skate on a second pair with Dan Boyle. The Sharks will still want their most skilled defenseman on their top pair balanced with a more defensive-minded partner. Petrecki is likely there for emergencies and will spend his time in the press box until Burns returns.
Among forwards, Sheppard should see time immediately over left wing Frazer McLaren. Both have spent time on that line during camp, but Sheppard is the more skilled player and the Sharks already have a tough guy presumed for a fourth-line role in Adam Burish. Skill has been the priority on the third line, where Tommy Wingels and T.J. Galiardi are together even though they are both fast and physical players.
That leaves the following projections for forward and blue line combinations:
- Marleau-Thornton-Pavelski, Boyle-Stuart
- Clowe-Couture-Havlat, Vlasic-Murray
- Galiardi-Handzus-Wingels, Braun-Irwin