How Sharks Rookie Lean Bergmann Could Be Fourth-line Forward They Need

SAN JOSE -- The time for many of the Sharks' roster hopefuls to showcase their talents is over, and most of the new faces have been reassigned to the AHL's San Jose Barracuda. Well, except for Lean Bergmann. 

The 20-year-old German forward has made the most of his time with the Sharks since signing as a free agent in May. With two games remaining in San Jose's preseason, Bergmann has an extended opportunity to show the skill and physicality entity he can bring to the Sharks' offense -- and, possibly, how he can be a key to filling out their bottom six.

One of San Jose's biggest issues last season was finding a fourth-line combination that could get the job done on a nightly basis. While Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson were mainstays on that line, there was an almost constant rotation of skaters who played alongside them, whether it was a center or a winger when Goodrow manned the middle.

Bergmann, with the mix of speed and grit he has shown so far this preseason, could become a constant.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound forward stood out in Saturday's game against the Vegas Golden Knights. Despite not getting on the scoreboard, Bergmann -- who scored 29 points (20 goals, nine assists) in 50 games last season for the Iserlohn Roosters of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) -- ended Saturday night with two blocked shots and five shots on goal. He also had a nifty between-the-legs pass that, had it been in a regular-season game, unquestionably would've made the postgame highlight reel.

After the game, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer made it clear that Bergmann was on the shortlist of young players who really stood out to him during the preseason, calling him "one of the guys who I think has jumped out as really trying to make an impression."

Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of Bergmann's game is the high level of physicality. He also tallied five hits in Saturday's game and seemed completely unphased by Vegas' physicality. 

That physical presence is something any team could benefit from having in their bottom six, and the Sharks are no exception.

While San Jose's offense has plenty of size in the way of power forwards Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier, the Sharks don't have as much snarl up front outside of Goodrow and Evander Kane. If Bergmann can generate offense at the NHL level while maintaining some of that fighting spirit, he can give the team a different look.

As for exactly where Bergmann could pencil into the Sharks' lineup, it looks like he will, in fact, get a look on San Jose's fourth line.

With the majority of players from training camp already reassigned to the Barracuda, San Jose will likely roll out lines and pairs in their final two preseason contests that will closely resemble a regular-season lineup. DeBoer had Bergmann on Goodrow's wing in Wednesday's practice opposite of Karlsson, and the German skated in a spot that often was filled in in last year's playoffs by gritty winger Micheal Haley or Lukas Radil. 

Keep in mind, Bergmann's standout performance Saturday came on Logan Couture's wing. Since DeBoer is prone to throwing his lines in the blender when the team is struggling, he potentially could shuffle Bergmann up the lineup as needed. 

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Granted, the regular season is still a week away. There even is a chance that Bergmann doesn't continue to impress.

For the time being, however, he appears to be seizing a role the Sharks have been looking to fill.

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