Important dates on the horizon for NHL, Sharks


Important dates on the horizon for NHL, Sharks

A critical couple of weeks for the future of the Sharks franchise are on the horizon, as the club must determine how to shape its roster for next season and beyond.

Here is a rundown of some important dates on the calendar – and how they may affect the Sharks – in a unique offseason that features an addition to the NHL’s family of franchises.

June 18 – Expansion draft protected lists released; Vegas can talk to free agents

General manager Doug Wilson has yet to say whether the Sharks will protect seven skaters, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters and one goalie for the expansion draft. We’ll find out this Sunday, as the league will release the protected lists from all 30 NHL teams.

That date also opens a brief window in which the Golden Knights can speak with pending free agents that are left unprotected. For example, they would be permitted to reach out to the camps of Joe Thornton and/or Patrick Marleau, assuming the Sharks don't protect either one.

June 21 – Golden Knights roster revealed; NHL Awards

Vegas’ selections are due by 7 a.m., and its roster be unveiled at the NHL Awards show later that night in Las Vegas. If the Sharks don’t come to some sort of agreement with them in the days and hours leading up to deadline, the Golden Knights will select one of the players on the Sharks’ roster that is left unprotected.

The Norris Trophy will also be presented that night, with Brent Burns likely to become the first Sharks player to ever be named as the best defenseman in the league.

June 23-24 – NHL Entry Draft

This year’s draft takes place over two days at Chicago’s United Center. The first round begins at 4:00 p.m. on Friday (NBCSN), while rounds two-through-seven are on Saturday morning beginning at 7:00 a.m. (NHL Network).

The Sharks still own their first round pick at 19th overall. They do not have any second, third or fourth round picks, but own one fifth round pick (143), two sixth round picks (159 and 174) and three seventh round picks (205, 212, 214).

June 25 – Free agents permitted to speak with other teams; deadline to qualify restricted free agents

If none of the Sharks current unrestricted free agents are signed by this date, they are allowed to speak with other teams that may be interested in inking them to deals on July 1. At this point, it appears likely that both the Thornton and Marleau camps will wait and see what other offers could be out there before making any decisions.

As for their restricted free agents, the Sharks have a few that are not yet signed that but will surely be qualified in Chris Tierney and Marcus Sorensen. Other notable RFAs likely to be qualified include Mirco Mueller, Tim Heed, Joakim Ryan and Barclay Goodrow.

July 1 – Free agency begins

Typically the most intriguing day of the offseason, unrestricted free agents are free to sign wherever they like beginning at 9 a.m. It will be particularly interesting to Sharks fans if Thornton and/or Marleau are not signed by this date, because if that’s the case they could very well move on to other organizations before the day is over. Other notable UFAs include Micheal Haley and Ryan Carpenter.

This is also the date that the Sharks are allowed to sign goalie Marin Jones and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long-term contract extensions, as they both enter the last year of their current deals in 2017-18. All indications are that the talks with both have gone smoothly so far for two players that are expected to help form the core of the team for the next several seasons.

* * *

The Sharks released their six-game 2017 preseason schedule, featuring a pair of games against the Golden Knights:

Sep. 19: Sharks vs. Anaheim (SAP Center)
Sep. 21: Sharks vs. Vegas (SAP Center)
Sep. 23: Sharks at Arizona (Gila River Arena)
Sep. 28: Sharks at Anaheim (Honda Center)
Sep. 30: Sharks vs. Arizona (SAP Center)
Oct. 1: Sharks @ Vegas (T-Mobile Arena)

The full 82-game regular season schedule will reportedly be released on June 22.

Process there even if results aren't for Sharks early in new season

Process there even if results aren't for Sharks early in new season

Saturday’s loss to the New York Islanders is one with which Sharks fans have become all too familiar.

The Sharks held a decided 41-23 edge on the shot count, but trailed 3-1 on the scoreboard. Since 2005, no team in the league has lost more games (59) in which they shot 35 or more times, and held their opponent to 25 or fewer shots.

No, your instincts haven’t deceived you over the Joe Thornton era: San Jose has lost a lot of games where they’ve otherwise outplayed their opponent. Of course, they’ve won plenty of those games too. More often than not, in fact, winning 72 of 131 times under those circumstances.

Frustration under those circumstances became readily apparent in the second period on Saturday, when Joe Pavelski broke his stick over Thomas Greiss’ net. The captain had plenty of reason to be unhappy, as his goalless drought to start the season has mirrored his team’s inability to finish at even strength.

So far this season, only Dallas and Montreal have scored on a lower percentage of their shots at even strength than San Jose, according to Natural Stat Trick. Both the Stars and Canadiens, unsurprisingly, are seventh in their respective divisions. The Sharks are sixth in the Pacific, thanks only to the still-winless Coyotes.

This early in the season, bad results can mask a strong process. They can’t finish, but the Sharks have been, statistically, one of the league’s best puck possession teams at even strength. That can happen over such a short stretch, but that’s easy to lose sight of when the team’s sitting in the division’s basement.

Right now, the Sharks just aren’t scoring enough at even strength, even as they’re playing well elsewhere. The power play’s begun to find an identity, particularly on the Kevin Labanc-led second unit. The penalty kill hasn’t allowed a goal since allowing three in the season opener, and have climbed all the way to 13th in the league.

If the Sharks continue to play this way, the goals, and wins, should come. They may not, of course, especially if Peter DeBoer struggles to find combinations that click for more than a game at a time. But eventually, the results should align with the process.

Saturday night was “one of those games” that have been surprisingly common in recent Sharks history, but it shouldn’t be chalked up as anything more than an amusing anomaly. Sometimes, one team is better, and still finds a way to lose.  

Sometimes, it truly is that simple.

Greiss strong in net as Islanders hand loss to Sharks


Greiss strong in net as Islanders hand loss to Sharks


SAN JOSE -- Thomas Greiss guided the New York Islanders on a night when they played it a little bit too safe.

Greiss stopped 40 shots, Brock Nelson scored a tiebreaking goal in the second period and the New York Islanders rallied to beat the slumping San Jose Sharks 3-1 on Saturday.

The Islanders improved to 1-1 on their three-game, five-day West Coast trip. The Sharks are 1-3 on their season-opening five-game homestand.

Nelson made it 2-1 at 13:33 of the second period, capitalizing on an open look in front of the goal after Joshua Ho-Sang's pass from behind the net.

"After we got the lead we just kind of held on, we bent but we didn't break and we needed some big saves from Thomas," Islanders coach Doug Weight said.

"These teams, when they're down, they're gonna push. ... You don't want to sit back but I think it's human nature. We have to get it out of our heads. We want to play aggressive and we want to put the puck in good spots. We started making some shoddy decisions, our feet stopped moving for a while, but give (the Sharks) credit, they made a good push. Tommy was great."

The Sharks led after Kevin Labanc's power-play goal at 4:16 of the first. Labanc was in the left circle when he rebounded a deflection and fired a wrist shot that slipped through Greiss' pads.

The Islanders tied it when Anders Lee tipped one in at 17:02 of the first.

Cal Clutterbuck scored an empty-net goal at with 1:10 left in the game.

"It's nice, first road win of the year, a good bounce back," Nelson said, referencing a 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.

"I thought we did some good things in Anaheim and weren't rewarded. It's nice to come out on top here."

The Islanders failed to score on three power plays. The Sharks penalty killing unit hasn't allowed a power-play goal in 12 chances over its last three games.

The Sharks had a short-handed scoring chance after Joakim Ryan was called for holding at 14:33 in the third period, when Greiss turned away Chris Tierney's shot in front of the goal.

Greiss survived relentless pressure in a third period in which the Sharks had 15 shots on goal.

"It felt like it was going to break, it just never did," Sharks center Joe Pavelski said. "A little bit of credit to Greisser over there, but with us, we've got to keep pushing and find a way.

"I thought we were going to tie it, but encouraging to see the way guys played for a second straight game here. Wanted a better result, for sure, but guys played hard."

NOTES: Islanders C Alan Quine (wrist) is with the team on its West Coast trip and has been practicing. He'll likely go to Bridgeport of the AHL on a conditioning assignment if he's ready when the team returns home on Monday. ... RW Clutterbuck (hip) was in Saturday's lineup after missing the last three games and C Jordan Eberle was on the ice a day after missing Friday's practice with an injury he suffered in practice the previous day. ... Sharks D Paul Martin missed a second straight game with a lower body injury. Coach Pete DeBoer said the injury is day-to-day.


Islanders: At the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night.

Sharks: Host the Montreal Canadians on Tuesday night.