The San Jose Sharks will be forced to enter the season without Raffi Torres. The 31-year-old forward is out for at least six weeks due to a knee injury and might end up missing far more time.
Although his past transgressions make him a controversial figure, he was also an important player in the Sharks’ late season resurgence in 2013 and his intensity will be missed by his teammates. At the same time, his absence is an opportunity for Anthony Stewart, 28, as he tries to make the team after agreeing to a professional tryout offer.
“Raffi fills a big role for the team, but it’s an opening for me, a similar type player where I like to get in on the forecheck and throw some big hits,” Stewart told CSN Bay Area.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan certainly sees Stewart as a viable candidate, but nothing has been cemented yet. Stewart will still need to compete against some of San Jose’s young prospects, like former Boston University standout Matthew Nieto and 21-year-old Freddie Hamilton.
Both are talented and Nieto in particular has some offensive upside, but Stewart brings 262 games worth of NHL experience to the table and has impressed the Sharks during the preseason.
San Jose still has about a week to make its decision and there are three exhibition games left on its schedule. That’s enough time for Stewart to make one final pitch for a contract.