The NHL reported that the San Jose Sharks had re-signed two forwards Friday, August 2. One is a prospect, while the other could be fighting for a regular roster spot.
Marek Viedensky has not yet reached his 23rd birthday. He has shown scoring ability at earlier levels, but his six points in 14 AHL games last season was the first sign he could do that for even the Worcester Sharks.
At best, he could be ready for a full-time role on an AHL first line, for which Cap Geek is reporting he would be paid $65,000. It is a role he only has a chance to get if the other player they signed to a two-way contract Friday is able to stick with San Jose this season. Bracken Kearns would then earn $550,000.
Kearns is just one of a list of players vying for a role as a reserve forward that generally plays more than half the season.
Matt Pelech is an invaluable NHL reserve because he has played at forward and on the blue line at the highest level. Before his two games and no points on the fourth line for the San Jose Sharks in 2013, he had three assists from the back end in five games with the Calgary Flames in 2008-09.
Pelech is also not yet 26, meaning he has more room for growth than the 32-year old Bracken Kearns. The effort to give him playing time might send him down to the minor leagues more often, but it might also get him more playing time at the NHL level.
Bracken Kearns is the man on the Worcester Sharks because he is a veteran. He scored 78 goals and 114 assists over his past 287 AHL games.
Yet at the age of 32, he has played in just six NHL games for two teams—both in the last two seasons. That age made him more reliable for emergency action in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs (seven games) but unlikely to ever be more than a reserve. For that reason, he will likely be passed over often as the San Jose Sharks give players with more upside their chance.
John McCarthy has been captain of the Worcester Sharks because of the way he plays in all zones. Since leaving Boston University in 2009, he has scored 51 goals and 75 assists in 229 AHL games and has two goals and two assists in 51 more at the NHL level.
The San Jose Sharks signed him to a deal before last season that becomes one-way in 2013-14. That probably means is they cannot find a spot for him on the regular roster, they will send him through waivers.
If he clears, the AHL team needs good talent and the man who turns 27 August 9 could have value as a career reserve. But making the second year one-way suggests they expect him to be in the NHL this season, even if only for the last (scratched) roster spot. That spot on the depth chart usually gets 20-plus games.
Matt Nieto has not even played enough at the AHL level to know if he can handle that, much less action for the San Jose Sharks. But between him and numerous prospects currently ahead of him, he is still the only one with a chance of any real NHL action.
It is likely that if the Sharks had to rely on any of them, they would actually add someone on the open market once they can make the room by moving Martin Havlat to long-term injured reserve. But it is possible that the developing Nieto could be so impressive in the AHL that they would want to give him a look in the NHL.