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One Sharp Season So Far

Monday, 12.21.2009 / 3:08 PM / Features
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One Sharp Season So Far
MacGregor Sharp has gone from the ECHL, to the Anaheim ducks and now to the San Antonio Rampage, impressing all the way.
A little more than a year ago, San Antonio Rampage rookie forward MacGregor Sharp was just looking to make an impression.

The Anaheim Ducks took notice early and often, an investment of attention that paid off in a big way later.

"It's been pretty amazing. It all happened so fast. You don't get a chance to step back and think about what you've done. Everything has been like a whirlwind."
After making that impression, Sharp set about making something else - history. Earlier this season, Sharp earned one of the most warp speed promotions of any non-goalie prospect in the annals of the ECHL. He became the first skater to jump from the ECHL to the NHL in the same season without first stopping in the AHL.

The leapfrog act was fast but fitting. Sharp has made a lot of heads spin in the past 12 months.

"It's been pretty amazing," Sharp said while taking a rest one evening in San Antonio last week. "It all happened so fast. You don't get a chance to step back and think about what you've done. Everything has been like a whirlwind."
That swirl includes 15 games in Bakersfield (4 goals, 10 assists), eight in Anaheim and five with the Rampage (2-3). And that doesn't even factor in how far along the undrafted Sharp came at Minnesota-Duluth without ever really going anywhere.

"To be honest, when you are a kid you always dream of playing as a pro," said Sharp, 24. "As you start progressing through levels it becomes a reality that the opportunity is there for you. I always believed in myself, if I worked hard and did the right things every day, I'd be there."

As recently as the start of his senior season at Minnesota-Duluth, Sharp could have held a meeting of everyone else who believed he was a future NHLer in a penalty box and had plenty of room to spare.

During his first three years at the school, Sharp was a sound two-way forward who stood out only because his team was so pedestrian. He compiled 58 points overall in that stretch, and, unbelievably, paced the team in scoring as a junior with just 17 points.

"There was a learning curve for me. As a team, we weren't scoring a ton of goals," he understated. "We understood we couldn't play an open game with a lot of those teams with top guys. I definitely learned a lot of little things defensively."

Anaheim had its antenna pointing in Sharp's direction from early in his senior season. Even though the player had done little to merit more than a passing nod, the Ducks were already checking up on him.

"He's just a kid who got more opportunities to play at Duluth, and he got more confidence," said David McNab, senior vice president of hockey operations for Anaheim. "It was easy to like him."

Very quickly, he was easier to love. Unless you were trying to shut him down.

Sharp scoffed at precedent and laughed all over the score sheet. He showed up at school his senior season with an improved shot and compiled 26 goals (second in the nation) and 24 assists in 43 games. 

"I just decided to come in as a fresh start, was really motivated to put up some numbers," Sharp said. "I definitely didn't think it was going to work out that well, but we had some good guys around us. It was a pretty special year. You are having the time of your life with some of your best friends."

That was just the window dressing, since Sharp had yet to produce in clutch moments for a team that was a stranger to big games. But he blew away that concern by helping his school win the WCHA tournament with a hat trick in the Final Five title game. In seven postseason games (including two in the NCAA tournament) Sharp came up with 6 goals and 3 assists.

"It wasn't pressure for us," Sharp said. "We were having fun with it. When you are having fun, you don't really feel any pressure."

Sharp's fan club was growing exponentially by now, and NHL scouts pitching free-agent deals were at the front of the line to apply for membership cards. But Sharp, recalling the Ducks' overtures before he literally became "Mr. Big Shot," took a pact from Anaheim.

"Obviously, Anaheim was my first choice," he said. "When they are there the whole way, they speak to you a lot. It shows you are doing something right."

The Ducks assigned Sharp to Bakersfield because they don't have an AHL affiliate this season, a fluky circumstance that obviously set up his unique change of scenery. But McNab points out that Sharp first had to bank enough trust to earn a recall.

The defensive groundwork he laid in his first three seasons in college, plus the offensive potential he flashed as a senior showed Anaheim that this was a player who could be relied upon in a range of situations.

"You can put him in offensive roles. You can put him in defensive roles. If you need to kill a penalty, he can kill a penalty," McNab said. "When you are a 24-year-old rookie, you can't be a guy who needs developing. You have to be farther along. Those are the types of players coaches like to have around."

Sharp said he felt like he blended right in after his switch from an understudy to a key figure in the Ducks' main cast.

"I think when I was out there, I played pretty well," he said. "The players up there are so good, it makes things easier for you. You just have to concentrate on doing little things on the ice. It's been good, though, because I've been in a lot of different roles."

Now, at last, he gets to play the part of a top AHL prospect. When the Ducks were done with their first look at him, they shipped him to San Antonio. With most of his belongings still in Bakersfield, he was trying to stretch a suitcase full of clothes until Christmas.

At least he'll have a place to unpack his stuff once he gathers it all. Last week, he got the word of stability that every player trying to establish himself in the AHL wants to hear - it's time to move out of the hotel and find an apartment.

"I've been in a hotel quite a bit this year. I'm looking forward to set up shop," he said. "Living out of a suitcase can get old in a hurry. It's definitely been quite a ride."

Author: Lindsay Kramer | NHL.com Correspondent

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NSH 62 41 14 7 188 147 89
2 ANA 62 38 17 7 182 174 83
3 STL 61 39 18 4 190 152 82
4 CHI 62 37 20 5 183 146 79
5 WPG 63 31 20 12 174 170 74
6 VAN 61 35 23 3 174 162 73
7 MIN 61 32 22 7 173 160 71
8 LAK 60 29 19 12 162 153 70
9 CGY 61 33 24 4 174 158 70
10 SJS 62 30 24 8 173 177 68
11 DAL 61 27 25 9 191 202 63
12 COL 61 26 24 11 161 175 63
13 ARI 62 20 35 7 137 210 47
14 EDM 62 18 34 10 142 206 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 59 19 39 9 58
C. Perry 47 24 17 12 41
R. Kesler 62 15 22 -4 37
S. Vatanen 57 12 22 6 34
M. Beleskey 56 21 9 13 30
P. Maroon 54 7 21 -3 28
H. Lindholm 59 6 22 19 28
J. Silfverberg 61 9 17 7 26
C. Fowler 61 5 21 -5 26
K. Palmieri 37 12 11 -1 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 29 8 5 .916 2.37
J. Gibson 6 5 0 .915 2.69


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