Sharks

GM Wilson says Sharks targeted C Hertl

799576.jpg

GM Wilson says Sharks targeted C Hertl

PITTSBURGH Tomas Hertl was one of three players targeted by the San Jose Sharks, according to general manager Doug Wilson, who spoke with CSNCalifornia.com immediately following the conclusion of the first round of the NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on Friday night.

And before you ask, no, he wouldnt say who the other two were.

Hertl is a player that our guys really had a good read on, Wilson said. We saw him, obviously, at World Juniors. He plays in a men's league. Its not only his size, but we think his versatility, too. Just a good, good fit for what our needs are and where the game is at in the league.

"His upside potential is to be that centerman you can use in all situations," said Sharks scouting director Tim Burke.

NEWS: Sharks draft Hertl

Hertl, 18, spent the previous season in the Czech Extraliga, and is currently listed as the youngest player on a roster that has an abundance of 30-somethings. In 38 games, he had 12 goals and 13 assists for 25 points and 22 penalty minutes. Prior to last season, Hertl played two years for Slavia Prahas junior team.

Hell likely return to the Czech Republic next season, but Wilson didnt want to rule out Hertl making a run at the opening night roster.

Well wait and see. Well get him to development camp and go from there. As I said, hes playing with men already, and performed very well with a high-end peer group at the World Juniors. Hes one of the more mature kids in this draft.

Although Wilson continued to repeat his mantra of taking the best player available regardless of position, it was thought that the Sharks needed a high-end offensive prospect after the club sent former first rounder Charlie Coyle to the Wild last season as part of the Brent Burns deal.

Somewhat surprisingly, eight of the first 10 choices in the first round were defensemen. The Washington Capitals picked Swede Filip Forsberg with the 11th choice, and it was all forwards from that point on until the Sharks were on the clock at 17 overall.

The phone started lighting up at the draft table at that point, but Hertl was the guy with the teal-colored bulls eye.

We got a lot of calls just prior to our pick, Wilson said. If Hertl had fallen out of there, we probably would have moved down.

Trades in general were few and far between. With big names like Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan and Ryan Suter all thought to be on the move, the only major deal was when Pittsburgh shipped center Jordan Staal to the Hurricanes for Brandon Sutter, the eighth overall pick, and prospect Brian Dumoulin.

The Sharks are still involved in plenty of trade talk, but Wilson said he wasnt surprised by the lack of activity.

A lot of the conversations will lead into the next week-and-a-half to two weeks, Wilson said.

Weve had a lot of discussions. We have a lot of centermen and defensemen, and thats what people are looking for, so we do get a lot of calls. I think that does set the table for more conversations the next couple weeks.

The draft resumes (and concludes) on Saturday with rounds two through seven, starting at 7:00 a.m. PST.

Something smells fishy about Sharks' early success on power play

Something smells fishy about Sharks' early success on power play

By many traditional measures, the Sharks’ power play is off to a strong start.

They’ve scored seven times on 30 opportunities, including once in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders. That mark, 23.3%, would have been good enough for third in the league last season, and is nearly seven percent better than the Sharks were in 2016-17.

San Jose’s made some changes on the man advantage, and are getting a different look on their top power play unit with Tim Heed there instead of another forward. Second-year forward Kevin Labanc is playing a significant role on the second unit, operating as something of a focal point.

The puck’s found the net a lot for the Sharks on the power play, but a deeper look at the numbers reveals that success may be a house of cards.

According to Natural Stat Trick, San Jose ranks in the bottom third of the league in shots, shot attempts, and unblocked shot attempts per 60 minutes. Using those rates allow us to compare teams empirically, equalizing for the amount of time each team has spent on the power play. Those rates, by the way, are not very good.

And each of those are lower than last season, when the Sharks finished 25th in power play percentage. This season, the Sharks are converting more shots, despite attempting less.

It would be tempting to think San Jose can hang their helmets on higher shot quality, but they’ve struggled in that area, too. The Sharks finished just shy of the top ten in high danger chances per 60 minutes last season, but are in the bottom third of the league this season, according to Natural Stat Trick.

So the Sharks are shooting at a lower rate and generating chances at a lower rate than last season, when they had one of the league’s worst power plays, but are scoring at a much higher clip. They’ve converted on about 19% of their shots on the power play, almost doubling their conversion rate (10.5%) from a season ago.

If this doesn’t seem like a sustainable mix, that’s because it’s not. In a small sample size of seven games, the power play’s been good enough, but the Sharks can’t count on converting nearly a fifth of their power play opportunities if they continue to struggle generating shots and chances.

Of course, stranger things have happened in a hockey season, so it’s possible the Sharks can ride a sky-high shooting percentage all season long. Banking on that, however, would be foolhardy.

Sharks come up short in New York despite Couture's hat trick

Sharks come up short in New York despite Couture's hat trick

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Anders Lee had two goals and an assist to lead the New York Islanders to a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

John Tavares had a goal and two assists, Josh Bailey added a goal and an assist, and Andrew Ladd also scored to help the Islanders win for the third time in four games. Thomas Greiss stopped 28 shots.

Logan Couture scored all three goals for the Sharks, completing the hat trick with 1:52 remaining to pull them within one. Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves.

Ladd's goal at 3:12 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie. Rookie Mathew Barzal created the scoring chance by taking the puck around the net and then setting up Ladd in the high slot for his second of the season.

Lee's second of the game and fifth of the season gave the Islanders a two-goal cushion with 8:13 remaining as he converted an odd-man rush.

Tavares sealed the win with an empty-netter with 55.4 seconds remaining and helped improve to 22-4-4 in their two-plus seasons at Barclays Center. Tavares points were his first since he had two goals and an assist Oct. 7 against Buffalo, ending a five-game drought.

The Sharks scored the game's opening goal at 6:26 of the second period on the power play. San Jose came away with the offensive draw and Couture scored from the slot, redirected Brent Burns' point shot past Greiss.

The lead lasted just over a minute as Nick Leddy worked his way to the back of the net and then quickly fed Lee for the tying goal.

The Islanders went ahead 58 seconds later after Joe Thornton made a costly turnover in his own end to give Bailey a point-blank chance. Bailey was able to sneak the puck with a backhander between his skates and past Dell to put New York ahead 2-1.

However, an impressive effort by Jannik Hansen to spin past Brock Nelson in the neutral zone led to a quick feed to Couture, who took a few strides and then fired a shot past Greiss to even the score once again.

NOTES: The Islanders held a special pregame ceremony to honor alumni of the organization who were in town for an Islanders Alumni Weekend. Among the players on the ice were Bobby Nystrom, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier and Ed Westfall. ... The Islanders scratched D Scott Mayfield, F Josh Ho-Sang and F Nikulay Kulemin. ... San Jose scratched F Joel Ward, F Barclay Goodrow and D Dylan Demelo. ... The Islanders honored Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie by playing music from the band during warmups. Downie passed away on Oct. 17 after succumbing to brain cancer.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At the New York Rangers on Monday night.

Islanders: Host Arizona on Tuesday night.