By Thomas Harrington
Charlie Sarault was not drafted, but was instead signed as a free agent with the Ducks at the conclusion of a five year junior career. He has spent the last two seasons playing in the AHL for the Norfolk Admirals, with a brief trip to the ECHL in his rookie season when he appeared in eight games for the Utah Grizzlies.
Similar to Joseph Cramarossa, Sarault is a center who improved his play in his second professional season, but was not a primary reason for Norfolk’s struggles. However, a big difference between the two is that Sarault plays a less physical style of hockey and has more offensive upside.
Sarault did not have a good start to his professional career and was sent to the ECHL for the playoffs, instead of playing for the Admirals in their playoff run. While he’s still not putting up great numbers in the AHL, his overall play did improve this past season, which led to him appearing in more games for Norfolk and not being sent down to the ECHL. Overall, he appeared in 51 games and scored eight goals and 15 points for the Admirals. The eight goals and 15 points are both career highs for him in the AHL. However, despite his improved play, Sarault bounced around the lineup. On the fourth line, he played with the likes of John Kurtz and Kevin Gagne, two players not known for scoring. He did see some time in the top six, most notably as the team’s second line center, but never on a consistent basis. He was also a healthy scratch over 20 times last season.
A year ago, I said that I thought Sarault’s stock had fallen dramatically since he had signed with the Ducks. Thankfully, Sarault worked hard this year and while his NHL future is far from certain, I do think he at least has a place in the foreseeable future playing in San Diego for the Gulls. Staying in the AHL on a full time basis this past season was a good step. As with Cramarossa and other prospects, I’d like to see Sarault force himself into the lineup on a more consistent basis. Depending on whether Chris Wagner is in Anaheim or San Diego, Sarault could have a very good chance to play in the team’s second line much more this season. Hopefully, he sees a lot of ice time next to Stefan Noesen, Max Friberg, Nick Ritchie, and Nic Kerdiles this season, which should lead to more of an offensive output from Sarault.
Sarault is entering the final year of his contract and will be a restricted free agent this season. This really is a make or break season for him. If he can consistently force his way into San Diego’s top six and put up good offensive numbers, I would expect the Ducks to re-sign him next summer. However, if he does not, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Ducks do not qualify him and let him become a free agent next summer, or even try and sign him to an AHL only deal.
My next prospect update will be about Andy Welinski.
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