'08-09 Sharks shaping up; Team adds experience on defense.


Byline: Bill Ballou

WORCESTER - There won't be much left of the original Worcester Sharks when the team begins its third season in town this October.

The team's two top scorers last year, Mike Iggulden and Graham Mink, are both bound for new organizations this season, as is popular defenseman Brennan Evans.

Even so, Worcester's 2008-09 roster is shaping up to be a more experienced one than last season, especially on defense.

Yesterday, the Sharks announced that both Tom Cavanagh and Brad Staubitz will return for a third season with the team and will announce that former IceCats defenseman Brendan Buckley has signed as well as veteran sniper Cory Larose.

Buckley, 31, played here in 2004-05 and went with the franchise when it moved to Peoria. He spent one year there as captain, then captained the Manchester Monarchs in 2006-07. Buckley played in Germany last year.

"I really thought I was going back there," he said, "but once I got back over here, and as I spent more time here, I realized I really missed the North American style of play."

Buckley, a native of Needham, has a lot in common with Cavanagh on different ends of the ice. Both skate with a consistent intensity, which is something San Jose is looking for.

"It's what we want from our teams," Worcester general manager Wayne Thomas said. "A team that plays hard, and is hard to play against."

Buckley's deal is for one year and it came together fast, he said. One of the selling points for him was a chance to return to Worcester.

"The one year I was here," he said, "I really enjoyed it. It's just 45 minutes from where I grew up, so it's a great place to play for me."

Larose is 33 and has more than 300 career AHL points. He spent last year in Switzerland, but the year before that compiled 81 points with the Chicago Wolves. Larose, who played college hockey at Maine, also spent parts of two seasons with Hartford.

Worcester is also close to finalizing deals with Matt Kinch, a veteran defenseman who played in Binghamton last year; and Brett Westgarth, a Princeton product like his brother Kevin of the Manchester Monarchs, whom the Sharks fought with frequently last season. Brett Westgarth spent half of last season with Iowa.

Iggulden signed with the Islanders and Mink returned to Hershey, where he helped win a Calder Cup three seasons ago. They combined to score 53 goals last year, but were also a combined minus-30. They were the Sharks' only 20-plus goal scorers in 2007-08.

Evans signed with...

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