Newly acquired free agents Jonny Brodzinski and Dalton Prout are in search of fresh starts in San Jose.

While these are not established impact players or exciting young rookies, the 26-year-old Brodzinski has some previously untapped potential while the 29-year-old Prout brings eight years of NHL experience. Said Brodzinski:

“As soon as the free agency window opened up, [the Sharks] contacted me right away and showed extreme interest. I think that was one thing that I just latched on to right away, that it was going to be a really good opportunity here. … I just thought there was no better fit.”

In training camp, Brodzinski has been playing on the right wing of Joe Thornton and Marcus Sorenson. The former Los Angeles King was a notable presence in the Sharks first preseason game. He deflected a Ryan Merkley shot for a power play goal while recording a game-high six shots on net.  

It seems the Sharks hope to enable Brodzinski’s shooting power by pairing him with Thornton, similar to how the veteran playmaker helped Kevin Labanc‘s growth. Brodzinski said: 

“[Thornton’s] one of the best playmakers in this league and I’m a shooter, that’s been my role for a long time. So putting us together, I think it’s going to be pretty special.”

The Kings’ 2013 fifth round pick was projected to make the Kings starting roster last season, but suffered an injury in the final game of the preseason — recovering from a dislocated shoulder sidelined Brodzinski for six month. He only appeared in 13 NHL games, mostly on the fourth line:

“Coming right back off injury, there was a lot up in the air. … I went in and out of the lineup at the very end and decided that free agency was probably best. San Jose talked to me right away. They were really interested and I think it couldn’t be a better spot for me right now.”

Brodzinski put up 11 points, including six goals through 54 NHL games. In the AHL, he scored 108 total points in 156 games. At the start of camp, Brodzinski said Thornton gave him some simple advice: get him the puck and get open.

Prout is a veteran defenseman who is likely to play on the third pair. He has played for three teams in his eight NHL seasons, most recently for the Calgary Flames. Prout spoke to the situation he joins in San Jose:

“Coming from teams that have had a kind of a changing of the culture phase in the organization, whether that be a bottom-five finish, a playoff miss or a new coaching staff, it’s kinda refreshing for me … coming to a team that has such a reputation. It’s nice to come into camp and be surrounded by that, these expectations and this level of competition.”

Prout was drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 NHL Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets, where he played for six years. He was traded to the New Jersey Devils in 2017. Last season, he played 20 games for the Calgary Flames. Head coach Pete DeBoer said:

“Just a character guy, quality character. Michael haley [and him] have a lot of the same characteristics. Dalton … is a better player than people give him credit for. He’s a big man, moves well. I think he is a very smart player.”

Prout is a physical, heavy-hitting defenseman with 23 NHL fights in his career. He could also help on the penalty kill, filling the vacancy left with the departure of Justin Braun during the offseason. He said:

“I don’t think it’s any secret that a couple of big dogs are ahead of me, some Norris trophy candidates. I’m just going to try and support them and try and be a depth role player for this team and try and make everybody better.”

Last season, Prout’s only goal for the Flames was against the Sharks. Prout said:

“I like to think of that as my contract goal.”

Brian Truong

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