The San Jose Sharks did not even reach the mid-point of their preseason schedule until over 90 percent of the world's population reached Sunday, Sept. 22. They have earned two wins and an overtime loss against Pacific Division rivals so far after splitting games Friday and Saturday night, and have just over one week until training camp ends.
Yet it is not the game results that matter as much as the how the roster is falling into place as the 2013-14 season approaches.
All three games were close and low-scoring. Special teams have been in the spotlight, with San Jose's power play going four of 13 (30.8 percent) while the penalty kill has given up just two goals and scored one. The team continues to play well defensively, giving up just two goals in regulation in each game while averaging 15 blocked shots and over 20 hits in the preseason. They are continuing to control the puck, averaging an extra possession each period via turnovers and four more in the faceoff circle.
At the same time, the small sample size that allows for anomalies to throw the numbers is on display with the only game they had an edge in shots on goal also the only game they did not have more possessions. That is why the most important thing is having the roster come into focus.
Certain players have stood out and the coaches have seen enough to trim their roster to 34 players. It was no surprise Troy Grosenick, Eriah Hayes, Curt Gogol, Brodie Reid, Danil Tarasov and Rylan Schwartz were reassigned Sunday. Sena Acolatse lost his slimmest of hope to make a deep San Jose blue line, too, and the team made things official by signing Mirco Mueller to an entry-level contract and reassigning him to his junior Everett Silvertips.
Nevertheless, there are still roles to be determined and spots on the NHL roster for the 2013-14 season up for grabs. There is little chance to know how many young players will be ready to elevate their game or how many veterans might see a drop-off in their play.
With that in mind, there are five roles important for the upcoming season that will be determined in the last week of training camp.