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.

Sharks winger Joonas Donskoi has officially arrived


Sharks winger Joonas Donskoi has officially arrived

It turns out the top-six winger the Sharks needed to replace Patrick Marleau was on the roster all along.

Joonas Donskoi skated on Logan Couture’s line in Monday night’s shootout loss to the Ducks, and was San Jose’s best player. He scored the Sharks’ only two goals, and tied for the team-lead among forwards with four shots on net.

Donskoi added another goal in the ninth-round shootout, but his two goals in regulation were his sixth and seventh on the season. With those goals, he surpassed his total from an injury-riddled campaign a year ago, and stands three tallies clear as San Jose’s second-leading goal-scorer this season.

Due to Melker Karlsson’s injury, Donskoi skated with the Sharks’ leading goal-scorer, Logan Couture, and rekindled the strong chemistry the pair has shown since the Finnish winger arrived in San Jose in 2015.

Of the nine lines Couture has skated on for at least 50 minutes dating back to the beginning of the 2015-16 season, the three best in terms of puck possession have had Donskoi on his wing. Those three combinations have controlled at least 54 percent of the five-on-five shot attempts, according to Corsica Hockey.

Adding Tomas Hertl, who’s already a strong possession player, to that line bodes well for an even stronger second line moving forward. With Karlsson on the wing, the line controlled only 47.7 percent of the shot attempts, per Corsica, meaning the Sharks have been routinely out-possessed with them on the ice.

That was not the case with Donskoi in Karlsson’s place, as Donskoi posted positive possession numbers alongside Couture and Hertl on Monday, according to Natural Stat Trick. The results were there, as evidenced by the game’s opening goal, but it’s a good sign that the process was, too.

The same, frankly, can be said of Donskoi’s entire season up to this point. He likely won’t convert on over 18 percent of his shots all season, of course, but the Sharks have the puck more often than their opponents when he’s on the ice, and should continue to generate pressure, chances, and ultimately goals, even if Donskoi’s personal scoring comes down.

When Karlsson comes back, Donskoi should remain on Couture and Hertl’s line. That would allow the former to slide into a role better-suited to his game, and the latter to bolster San Jose’s top-six forward group.

Donskoi’s earned an extended look in that spot thanks to his resurgence, and subsequent emergence, this season. Thanks to him, replacing Marleau’s production suddenly seems much less daunting.

Two Donskoi goals not enough as Sharks fall to Ducks in shootout

Two Donskoi goals not enough as Sharks fall to Ducks in shootout


SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Antoine Vermette beat goalie Martin Jones in the ninth round of a shootout to give the Anaheim Ducks a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Monday night.

Corey Perry, Cam Fowler and Brandon Montour also scored during the tiebreaker for Anaheim.

Joonas Donskoi, Tim Heed and Brent Burns had shootout goals for the Sharks. Tomas Hertl missed his attempt in the ninth round, leaving Vermette a chance to win it.

Perry and Rickard Rakell scored in regulation for the Ducks. Reto Berra made 40 saves in his first start of the season.

Donskoi had two goals for the Sharks, including the tying score in the third period. Jones stopped 28 shots.

Donskoi helped create his own goal by knocking the puck away from a Ducks defender and getting it to Logan Couture for a give-and-go as the Sharks took a 1-0 lead 3:31 into the game.

The Ducks came back in the second period to even the score 45 seconds in. After winning a faceoff in the San Jose zone, Brandon Montour sent a sharp pass to Perry's stick. Perry settled it and fired into the net for the equalizer.

Rakell gave the Ducks a 2-1 advantage midway through the second, just as a power play ended. Perry took a shot that bounced off Jones' pads, and Rakell knocked it into the net before Jones could cover up.

The Sharks snapped an 0-for-17 streak on the power play with a goal midway through the third to tie it. Donskoi tracked down a rebound and flipped it off Berra's right pad and into the net for his second career multi-goal game.

NOTES: Ducks D Cam Fowler returned to action after missing 12 games with a knee injury. ... Sharks C Melker Karlsson missed the game with an upper-body injury. ... Sharks forward Kevin Labanc, who hasn't played much recently, started on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Donskoi was moved to the second line. ... Ducks G Ryan Miller missed the game with a lower-body injury. Berra made his fourth appearance this season. ... Perry has seven points in his last five games. ... Rakell has a point in seven of his past eight games, with a total of 11 during that span. ... The Sharks scored their second power-play goal in eight November games.


Ducks: Host the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday.

Sharks: Play at the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday.