SAN JOSE -- When general manager Doug Wilson talks about more responsibility being given to younger players as the Sharks enter a rebuild phase, one of those players he routinely mentions is forward Matt Nieto.

Nieto, who is among the 44 players taking part in the team's development camp this week even though he played in 66 NHL games last season, recognizes the expectations have changed for him.

"Yeah, I think next year I want to build off last season. I want to contribute more, I want to bring more to the table," Nieto said. "I'm sure all the rest of the guys in the locker room are saying that, too. What happened last year is unacceptable."

The increased role for younger players likely would come at the expense of playing time for veterans such as Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau, but Nieto doesn't see that as making things awkward in the locker room.

"We're a tight group. I think all of us will do whatever it takes to win," Nieto said. "Whatever their roles, whatever the coach wants from them or expects from them I think guys are going to do."

But while Wilson talks about the team needing to take a step back before taking two steps forward, Nieto doesn't look at it the same way.

"I think we really want to make a push for the cup this year, and I think everyone in the locker room will do whatever it takes to do that," he said.

Another younger player that Wilson is counting on for next season is rookie defenseman Mirco Mueller, about to begin his first full season as a pro at age 19.

Mueller, who showed up for camp 12 pounds heavier than he was a year ago at 205, said he is well aware of Wilson's statements since the Sharks squandered a 3-0 series lead before being eliminated by the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the playoffs.

"Yeah, for sure when Doug Wilson says he trusts in younger players and he wants to build on our age group, that gives you a lot of motivation and confidence," Mueller said. "Also, that you really have a shot to make the team. Everyone here -- that's really good motivation for all of us."

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Mueller's increased size is evident.

"He's put some muscle on his body," McLellan said. "His presence is greater now than it was last year, he obviously feels a little more comfortable around the coaches and his teammates."

But McLellan wasn't ready to award Mueller — or any other prospect — a roster spot just yet.

"The rest of the summer's going to be real important to him, just like the rest of the prospects," the coach said. "They're going to have to go and do some homework, get themselves prepared for a training camp and then take advantage of any opportunity that comes their way."