SAN JOSE -- Mario Ferraro hasn't earned himself a spot on the Sharks' opening night roster just yet. With an impressive preseason campaign wrapping up this week, however, it's looking more and more likely that the 21-year-old will skate with the big club when the regular season opens up on October 2.
But Ferraro isn't getting ahead of himself.
Despite clearly being on the shortlist of young players who could make the Sharks' roster out of camp, he's just trying to build up his game and learn from all of the established players around him.
"I feel like I'm in a good spot, but I try not to focus on that kind of stuff," Ferraro said Saturday after San Jose's tune-up contest against the Vegas Golden Knights. "I try to improve as much as I can to hopefully one day be a Shark, and I take in all the advice that I can from people around me."
The competition has been fierce in this year's camp with San Jose having roster spots that need to be filled, and the blue line has been no exception, particularly with Radim Simek questionable to return for the start of the season.
According to Ferraro, that heightened competition is fuel to work harder.
"This is the NHL level so you're going to get some pretty good competition, especially on the back end in San Jose," Ferraro said. "But that competition pushes me and pushes everyone else in this room to get better and better. And that's something that you don't get everywhere. To be surrounded by such great players who are all competing for the same goal, it really pushes me and makes me a better player."
One player who has been pushing Ferraro that extra mile has been Dalton Prout -- a new face in San Jose's dressing room, but also an eight-year veteran. The two have been paired up on San Jose's blue line as of late, and having a teammate like Prout to look up to both on the ice and off has been a plus for an NHL hopeful like Ferraro, who brings a lot of energy to the game.
"We actually grabbed a bite to eat the other night just before the game," Ferraro recalled with a smile. "I'm thankful to be able to play with a guy like that. He's such a great leader and a really good person. It's good to learn from a guy like that who has experience and he definitely does a good job of covering my back out there for sure."
Ferraro got an extended look in Saturday's preseason game, leading all Sharks' skaters with 22:17 minutes of ice time. He also contributed three of the 31 hits San Jose laid on Vegas that evening -- a testament to Ferraro gearing up for heightened physicality at the NHL level.
"I think he's getting used to the NHL pace and the size of the guys," Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said, going on to compliment Ferraro's performance throughout training camp. "His competitiveness has always been off the charts. He's ready to play every night and he brings a lot of good energy."
Whether that energy is something Ferraro gets to put on the NHL ice at the start of the season still hasn't been determined yet. But his drive to continue building on his game and learn from the players around him speaks well for his future.
"I'm always looking to get stronger and stronger," Ferraro said. "There's always room to improve."