Sat, 24 Sep 2016 05:33:30 UTIf a young Sharks’ hopeful wants to make a strong first impression — even a lasting one — Friday at Sharks’ Ice was a good time to start. With seven opening-night regulars winding up their time with their World Cup of Hockey teams, 49 of the best players in San Jose’s system are arriving at training camp hoping to open eyes. The best-on-best tourney being waged in Toronto could keep a number of high-profile Sharks away for at least another week, especially if Canada beats Russia during Saturday’s semifinal. Forwards Joe Thornton and Logan Couture are joined by defensemen Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic on the favored hosts, who would advance to a best-of-three finale starting Tuesday and ending as late as next Saturday if there’s a split of the first two games. Offseason acquisition and Danish native Mikkel Boedker skates up front for Team Europe, which will oppose Sweden in Sunday’s semifinal. USA team captain Joe Pavelski and Finland’s Joonas Donskoi were headed back to the Bay Area on Friday after their respective teams were eliminated in pool play. [...] while no one is going to take the job of anyone on the aforementioned list, their absence allows more ice time for non-regulars, whether it’s in camp or during the six-game exhibition season that starts Tuesday when the Sharks host Vancouver. The Sharks are pushing within merely $300,000 of the salary cap ceiling, so if a young guy wins a spot he’s pushing a contract off the roster, too. The 6-foot-1, 212-pound wing, who turns 20 four days before the Oct. 12 regular-season opener, is primed to challenge for a roster spot. While noting he isn’t trying to think about how few spots might be available, Meier said he’s focused on being on the Sharks’ roster when camp breaks as opposed to starting with the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League.
Thu, 22 Sep 2016 02:13:56 UTSharks’ camp features few open roster spots Just 103 days since the Sharks watched the Penguins skate with the Stanley Cup at SAP Center, San Jose opens training camp Friday to prep for the 2016-17 NHL season. Sixty-four players are expected, although seven of the more recognizable Sharks had a head start while participating in the ongoing World Cup of Hockey, which further shortened their already truncated offseason. [...] competition for few jobs will be waged mostly at Sharks’ Ice in San Jose for a team hoping to take one more step than it did last season. “There’s a lot of heavy lifting between September and April in order to give ourselves that opportunity,” Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said. Schlemko, 29, will be an upgrade for departed free-agent Roman Polak, who — despite his strong physical play — was exposed by Pittsburgh for his lack of speed. Eyes will be on Swiss-born winger Timo Meier, the ninth overall pick in 2015, who doesn’t turn 20 until four days before the season opener. [...] after another year of seasoning, it’s logical to assume the 6-foot-1, 212-pound scorer might be a nice fit alongside Thornton and Pavelski if the Sharks want to revisit Hertl’s eventual move to center ice. Free-agent winger Marcus Sorensen, 24, would like to follow Karlsson and Donskoi by jumping from a European pro league into the NHL. Gifted Russian scorer Nikolay Goldobin is joined by Kevin Labanc and Rourke Chartier as skilled youngsters looking to make a lasting impression. “The exciting part for me is the stability of the core coming back, the fact we’ve added a couple of really good pieces, and the young guys who have the potential to step in and play with us,” DeBoer said.
Tue, 13 Sep 2016 18:28:25 UTFresh off the Sharks’ first-ever Stanley Cup Final appearance, general manager Doug Wilson has landed a spot in the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame. Wilson, 59, will be honored at a banquet Nov. 2 at SAP Center along with ifellow inductees Mike Bruner, a swimmer who won two gold medals at the 1976 Olympics; former Warriors players Raymond Townsend and former U.S. national soccer team player Aly Wagner.
Fri, 1 Jul 2016 22:22:07 UTAfter Friday’s early morning signing of defenseman David Schlemko, the team announced in the afternoon that it had reached a deal with forward Mikkel Boedker, a 2008 first-round pick of the Coyotes. “David is a solid puck-moving defenseman with good speed who can play the game at both ends,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said in a conference call. Schlemko’s career-high numbers last season are not eye-popping — six goals and 19 points in 67 games — but he’ll likely fit nicely on a third pairing with the expected departure of fellow unrestricted free agent Roman Polak. San Jose survived the loss of top shutdown defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic for 15 games late in the regular season, and was remarkably fortunate in terms of durability with the rest of the top five. [...] Martin, who played his most games in nearly a decade, will be 36 at the end of next season and San Jose is wise not to gamble on a thin blue line again, especially a corps that depends on the sum of its parts. The undrafted Schlemko has played 298 NHL games and 397 in the minor leagues. Free-agent goalie James Reimer, who went 6-2 in eight games after being acquired by San Jose from Toronto at the trade deadline, signed a five-year, $17 million deal with Florida.
Fri, 1 Jul 2016 01:44:38 UTThe Sharks made official Thursday a deal that had been reported earlier in the week, signing pending restricted-free-agent forward Tomas Hertl to a two-year contract worth a reported $6 million, keeping one of the team’s top young players in the fold as the Sharks try to build on last season’s trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. Hertl, 22, is coming off his best season as a pro, having recorded career highs with 21 goals and 25 assists in 81 games. The Sharks’ 2012 first-round pick thrived when moved to the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski in the middle of the season — he had 17 goals and 14 assists in the final 44 games — and was a big reason behind San Jose’s postseason success (six goals, five assists in 20 games). Wilson said he expects to have conversations next summer with Hertl about a longer-term deal, but both sides thought it was best to opt for a “bridge” contract because of Hertl’s potential to emerge into one of the game’s best players. Hertl injured his right knee late in Game 2 of the Finals against Pittsburgh and his absence the rest of the way played a role in San Jose’s six-game loss to the Penguins. Wilson said he is having talks with two other pending restricted free agents: forward Matt Nieto and defenseman Dylan DeMelo. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said Thursday that he followed his heart in re-signing with the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2008 rather than testing free agency, where he likely would have commanded much more than the $68 million he’s due to earn over the next eight seasons. “Some people when they’re in this position, chase, obviously, the most money possible,” the two-time NHL scoring champion said during a conference call.
Thu, 30 Jun 2016 00:10:39 UTSubban won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman in 2013 and had six goals and 45 assists last season before suffering an injury. The offensive-minded, dynamic 27-year-old has 63 goals and 215 assists in 434 career games, all with the Canadiens. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos tweeted Wednesday that he was “excited to be back for 8 more years” and two people familiar with the decision confirmed the move, which the Lightning had not announced. The agreement was reached two days before the two-time NHL scoring champion had the opportunity to test free agency. New Jersey acquired 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick Taylor Hall from Edmonton for defenseman Adam Larsson. ...
Wed, 29 Jun 2016 19:32:02 UTHertl hurt his right knee in the Stanley Cup Finals, but is expected to be a key part of the team again next season. Hertl, 22, scored a goal in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against Pittsburgh, but was injured in Game 2 and didn’t play the rest of the series. Hertl was one of four players the Sharks issued qualifying offers to earlier this week.
Sat, 25 Jun 2016 23:18:57 UTSharks load up on forwards in NHL Draft The Sharks took a forward-thinking approach Saturday in the NHL entry draft in Buffalo, N.Y., opting for four front-line players — three of them centers — and a defenseman with their five picks as the two-day event ended. The Western Conference champions did not make any deals to acquire or trade picks, as they often had at recent drafts. Noah Gregor (fourth, No. 111): Born in Edmonton, the speedy center has played two seasons with Moose Jaw of the Western Hockey League. A member of Team Canada’s under-18 entry in the world championships, Gregor is coming off a collarbone injury. Manuel Wiederer (fifth, No. 150): San Jose’s third consecutive center selection, the 6-0, 171-pound native of Deggendorf, Germany, played last season for Moncton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and recorded 29 goals and 64 points in 54 games. Mark Shoemaker (sixth, No. 180): The 6-2, 208-pound right-shooting defenseman, who hails from Mississauga, Ontario, contributed four goals and 13 points in 67 games during his second season with North Bay of the Ontario Hockey League. Because a lot of these guys from different places need to play a little bit longer as opposed to profile guys who are already playing with older guys at a younger age because they have the size. The Sharks are pleased with Gambrell’s intentions to return to Denver for a sophomore season.
Sat, 25 Jun 2016 02:31:26 UTMaple Leafs select Arizona-born Matthews No. 1 in NHL draft On the heels of the NHL expanding into Las Vegas, the Toronto Maple Leafs are pinning their future on Arizona-born center Auston Matthews. Amid chants of “Go Leafs, Go!” the 18-year-old from Scottsdale was selected by Toronto with the first pick in the NHL draft Friday night in Buffalo, N.Y. Though the Maple Leafs had kept their decision under wraps since winning the draft lottery in April, Matthews was the expected choice. NHL Central Scouting ranked the 6-foot-2, 210-pound playmaker as its top draft-eligible project, and he’s also a natural center, a top-line position that’s difficult to fill. “He’s an elite player with an elite drive train,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. Matthews, who grew up a Coyotes fan, became the seventh American selected at No. 1 and first since the Chicago Blackhawks chose Patrick Kane with the top pick in 2007. Calgary acquired goalie Brian Elliott from St. Louis for a second-round draft pick. Vanek’s disappointing two-year stint with the Stars ended with 39 goals and 54 assists in 154 games with a minus-15 rating. Dallas re-signed defenseman Jordie Benn to a three-year, $3.3 million contract.
Fri, 24 Jun 2016 02:26:43 UTBarring a trade, the Sharks won’t make a first-day selection in the two-day NHL entry draft, which gets under way Friday in Buffalo. [...] when San Jose does get around to picking 60th overall in the second round, exactly what type of player will the Western Conference champion get? How long does it typically take for that player to reach the NHL? Four Sharks who dressed in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals were drafted in the neighborhood of No. 60: two chosen by San Jose (Matt Nieto and Chris Tierney) and two by other organizations (Nick Spaling and Paul Martin). Tierney, 21, had just completed the second of his four seasons with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League when drafted 55th overall by the Sharks in 2012. After two more seasons with the Golden Gophers, Martin became a regular on the Devils’ blue line in 2003-04. The common thread is that it can take 2-3 years, including a short time in the minors, for a player chosen in the 40-65 range to establish himself in the league. In 2008, the Sharks took forward Justin Daniels at No. 62 and the Connecticut high school alum followed a three-year career at Northeastern University with stops at five lower minor-league affiliates before finishing his career at age 27 in 2015. Eleven of the 25 players chosen No. 60 league-wide since the Sharks came aboard have at least appeared in the NHL. The Sharks, who also have picks 111, 150, 180 and 210, had six players on their Stanley Cup Finals Game 6 roster who were selected later than No. 60: forwards Joe Pavelski (205th in ’03), Tommy Wingels (177th in ’08) and Joonas Donskoi (99th by Florida in ’10), defensemen Justin Braun (201st in ’07) and Roman Polak (180th by St. Louis in ’04), and goalie James Reimer (99th by Toronto in ’06). Marleau, who turns 37 in September, has spent his entire 1,411 regular-season-game career in San Jose after the Sharks made him the No. 2 overall pick in 1997 — right after Boston took current Sharks center Joe Thornton No. 1.
Wed, 22 Jun 2016 00:58:54 UTThe playoff ice has barely melted, yet the Sharks have unveiled next season’s schedule. The Stanley Cup finalists will open the 2016-17 season Oct. 12 at SAP Center against Los Angeles before departing on a five-game road trip. January is the busiest month at home when San Jose hosts nine games, and overall, the Sharks will play on back-to-back dates 16 times.
Tue, 21 Jun 2016 06:04:16 UTSharks general manager Doug Wilson touched on hot-topic items including players’ health, contract obligations and offseason concerns as the Stanley Cup finalists prepare for this weekend’s NHL draft in Buffalo. The Sharks also sent next year’s third-round pick to the Coyotes in exchange for a 2017 sixth-round choice and the rights to forward Maxim Letunov, who led UConn with 16 goals and 40 points during his recently completed freshman season. The Sharks do not have a first-round pick Friday, having traded it to Boston in exchange for goalie Martin Jones last June, certainly a good move in hindsight. Teams are expected to learn what the salary cap is for next season, as well as how many players each of the 30 teams can protect in preparation for expansion Las Vegas joining the league. “We’re positioned well for the expansion draft with where our players are at with contractual commitments, and I think we’re also very well placed for wherever the cap will be now and for the future,” Wilson said. All-Star defenseman Brent Burns is heading into the final year of his five-year contract, certainly a deal the Sharks would like to extend.
Sun, 19 Jun 2016 01:39:54 UTSharks eager to prove Stanley Cup run was no fluke The Sharks surprised the hockey world, their fans and maybe even themselves with their trip to this season’s Stanley Cup Finals. Considering the advanced age of several key players — Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau will be 37 when next season starts — and the way Cup runners-up have fared recently, there are reasons for concern. No team during that time has been a Cup runner-up two consecutive seasons, and two teams — the 2012-13 Devils and 2006-07 Oilers — missed the postseason following a Finals’ series loss. Young, restricted free-agent forwards Tomas Hertl and Matt Nieto, and defenseman Dylan DeMelo need new deals — and they’re not going anywhere. The core of the team’s veterans are all signed for at least one more season and, assuming that defenseman Brent Burns gets an extension, general manager Doug Wilson has decisions to make only on the unrestricted free agent front. Defenseman Roman Polak provides an element of grit and physicality the Sharks coveted after his arrival from the Maple Leafs, but he, too, figures to receive an offer outside San Jose’s reaches. Center Nick Spaling has a history with coach Peter DeBoer (they were also together in junior hockey), and he looked like a nice fit in the Sharks’ system. In addition to forwards Marleau and Thornton turning 37 before the season starts, Joel Ward will be 36 in December, defenseman Paul Martin is 35 and has two more years left on his deal, and captain Joe Pavelski will be 32. [...] the next layer — defensemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun, goalie Martin Jones, Couture and Tommy Wingels — are between 26 and 29 and are capable of forming a solid leadership group on their own. The Sharks are excited about what’s coming next, including a group of recent draft picks that features 6-foot-1, 209-pound Swiss wing Timo Meier, defenseman Jeremy Roy and forwards Adam Helewka and Rourke Chartier. General manager Doug Wilson’s gamble to deal Friday’s first-round draft pick and prospect Sean Kuraly to Boston last summer to acquire Kings’ backup goalie Martin Jones paid off. Barring injury, the Sharks look to have a long-term solution at a position that previously lacked depth and excellence. New head coach Peter DeBoer had the right blend of experience and leadership to energize a group that was just waiting for a fresh message to rally behind. DeBoer’s staff, including assistants Steve Spott, Bob Boughner and Johan Hedberg, provided the proper supportive guidance to allow the roster’s natural talents to re-emerge. The resurgence of 36-year-old Joe Thornton energized the Sharks and returned them to powerhouse status in the Western Conference. Adding Paul Martin was what Brent Burns needed, adding clutch wing Joel Ward was what the locker room needed, and adding rookie forward Joonas Donskoi proved that there are players to be had in the salary-cap era if scouts are willing to beat the bushes. Less is more: fewer practices and an increased reliance on classroom videos reduced wear and tear on a team that led the NHL in air miles during the regular season (50,362) and added another 24,796 in the postseason. The team will rely on its training staff to tailor an offseason program to deal with the short summer as rehabilitation and good health become the top priority. Forwards Chris Tierney, Melker Karlsson, Hertl, Donskoi and defenseman Brenden Dillon all took positive steps this season. [...] the club could get a boost and benefit from the internal competition among forwards Nikolay Goldobin, Barclay Goodrow, Timo Meier (ninth overall in ’15), Adam Helewka (106th in ’15) and Rourke Chartier (149th in ’14).
Thu, 16 Jun 2016 02:23:38 UTPITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins turned around a once-disappointing season and fired a head coach before winning a fourth Stanley Cup, adversity that seemed to make Wednesday’s citywide celebration that much sweeter. Fans lined the victory parade route more than 10 deep as the players, coaches, their families and support staff rolled by in pickup trucks, convertibles and amphibious duck boats. The parade was held seven years to the day that the 2009 team celebrated its Stanley Cup championship with a downtown victory lap. The skies largely cleared, though, as fans threw ribbons and confetti, peered out of office windows and from parking-garage platforms, and thronged the city’s main downtown streets. Kessel joined the team in an offseason trade from Toronto, where fans often took out their frustrations on him in a city that hasn’t witnessed a Stanley Cup championship since 1967 — the year the Penguins joined the National Hockey League as one of six expansion teams. Zachary Sheler worked a 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift at a convenience store in Johnstown on Tuesday before driving 60 miles west to grab a spot near the parade-ending stage by 3 a.m. He was holding a plastic replica of the Stanley Cup glued together from “a five-gallon bucket and just a bunch of Betty Crocker bowls from the Dollar Tree.”
Tue, 14 Jun 2016 04:17:13 UTGo home, pound some Five Guys’ burgers. Instead of boarding a charter flight bound for Pittsburgh and Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday, the Sharks were left Monday to clean out their lockers at the team’s practice facility in San Jose and adjust to the conclusion of a season that fell two wins short of earning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Unlike previous postseasons, when expectations ran high and the Sharks went home too soon, this year’s playoff run didn’t end until Sunday’s 3-1 Game 6 Finals loss to the Penguins. “We always had the belief in this locker room we could do what we did, but you always believe that you can win,” said forward Logan Couture, the NHL’s playoff leader with 30 points. The Sharks have reached the postseason in 11 of the past 12 seasons — and 17 times in the franchise’s 25 years of existence — but until this year had not played in the NHL’s showcase series. “It’s hard and it’s long,” Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said of the 82-game regular season and subsequent two-month playoff run. “We have a great group, we really enjoy playing with each other and you never know what could happen in a Game 7,” forward Joe Thornton said. After finishing third in the Pacific Division, San Jose dispatched Los Angeles in five games, survived a seven-game set against speedy Nashville and matched St. Louis’ physicality to close out the Blues in six games. The exception was Game 5, when San Jose scored two early goals in an elimination game it would win. San Jose has decisions to make on unrestricted defenseman Roman Polak, goalie James Reimer and center Nick Spaling, but otherwise, it’s a far less daunting task to assemble a top-caliber team for next season than it was last year. Yet knowing what’s still ahead of us to make the playoffs and get back to the Finals.