Sharks

Mailbag: Who will Sharks lose in the expansion draft?

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ap

Mailbag: Who will Sharks lose in the expansion draft?

Our first Sharks offseason mailbag features the upcoming expansion draft, Micheal Haley, and Jannik Hansen...

Who's going to Vegas? (michael dalsky @rudy7799)

The NHL expansion draft, in case you’ve forgotten, will take place in late June with the Vegas Golden Knights roster set to be announced on June 21.

At this point, I believe it’s more likely the Sharks will lose a defenseman than a forward or a goalie.

It makes the most sense for San Jose to utilize the seven forwards/three defensemen/one goalie option in order to protect the maximum amount of players, rather than the eight skaters and one goalie. There are simply too many forwards on the team that need to be protected, especially if the team agrees to a contract extension with Joe Thornton and/or Patrick Marleau over the next few weeks. 

There are two obvious choices for the team to expose at forward in Mikkel Boedker and Joel Ward – the Sharks would likely welcome Vegas choosing Boedker, especially, who has three years and $12 million left on his deal, but I can't imagine Vegas would do that. Ward, who will turn 37 in December, had a significant drop in production this season and probably wouldn’t be an attractive target for the Golden Knights, either (although, it should be mentioned that general manager George McPhee knows the tremendously well-liked and respected Ward from their time together in Washington).

On defense, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are the obvious guys to protect, with Justin Braun likely the third. That would leave Vegas the option of selecting Brenden Dillon or David Schlemko, both of which are under contract for the next three seasons. If I were running the Vegas team, I’d target one of those two (Paul Martin would also be availabe in that scenario, but at 36 years old, he probably wouldn't make sense).

The protected lists are expected to be made public on June 18.

Any news on re-signing [Micheal] Haley? (Nik @niknisj25)

It's my understanding there is mutual interest from both parties about a potential return for Haley, but nothing is imminent. If something does get done with Haley, it would likely be after the expansion draft and after the team determines what is happening with Thornton/Marleau, but it’s still notable that the two sides have at least had some preliminary discussions.

One option, though, might be for the Sharks to re-sign Haley soon and make him available for the expansion draft, if they decide they would rather protect someone like Ward. Every team needs to expose at least two forwards that played in at least 40 games last season, or 70 games in the past two seasons. Haley would qualify.

Knowing what we know now, was the trade for [Jannik] Hansen a good or bad move? (Scott Hansen @SheboyganScottH)

If Hansen were a pending UFA this summer I would say it was a bad move, but this is still a player that has a year left on his contract at a very reasonable $2 million salary. He might not have had the impact that the organization hoped for this season, with two goals and five assists in 15 games and one assist in six playoff games, but he’ll get a full training camp under his belt next season and I still like what he brings to the table. This is a team that needed some more scoring depth than it got this season, and Hansen can still bring that in 2017-18.

Also, it’s not like Nikolay Goldobin showed that he’s ready for the NHL yet in his limited time in Vancouver at the end of the year. It's looking more and more likely that he'll never break through in the best league in the world.

There's one key difference between struggling Sharks, Canadiens

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AP

There's one key difference between struggling Sharks, Canadiens

The San Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens could not be more different in terms of tradition. But, on the ice this season, they couldn’t be more similar.

Both teams have placed their faith in a goalie that wears #31. The top defensemen on each team, Brent Burns and Shea Weber, are 32 and signed until 2025 and 2026, respectively. Tomas Hertl and Alex Galchenyuk are 2012 first round picks playing on the wing after being drafted as centers. Tomas Plekanec and Joe Thornton are favorites on the wrong side of 30, who may head elsewhere next summer.  Heck, both teams miss defenseman David Schlemko, who San Jose lost in the expansion draft and was eventually traded to Montreal, where he hasn’t yet played due to injury.

And both have struggled mightily so far. San Jose and Montreal have combined to win just two games, and sit 29th and 30th, respectively, in goals scored this season. It’s hard to imagine the Sharks and Canadiens scoring so little with all of that talent, but they can’t bank on good fortune, either.

Something’s got to give when the two face off at SAP Center tonight. After tonight, one team will feel much better about themselves, and the other team will be much closer to hitting the panic button.

That’s where the critical difference lies: Montreal’s already hit it, and San Jose probably won’t.

Last season, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin fired Michel Therrien and replaced him with Claude Julien in February. Seven months after essentially siding with Therrien and trading star defenseman P.K. Subban, Bergevin ended Therrien’s time in Montreal, too. He surely can’t fire another coach, but a Galchenyuk trade is reportedly a possibility, according to TSN.

The Sharks, on the other hand, likely won’t do any of that. Even with the burden of high expectations in his tenure, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson’s never traded away a star player or fired a coach midseason. Even though Vegas pegs Peter DeBoer as the odds-on favorite to lose his job, it’s hard to envision Wilson making a change behind the bench during the year. He didn’t in 2015 when Todd McLellan seemed to lose the room, so why would he now?

Patience is what truly separates the Sharks and Canadiens, and that difference will likely determine how each front office reacts if their teams continue to struggle. Wilson’s shown a willingness to swing for the fences under these circumstances. He acquired Joe Thornton in 2005, after all.

But if you’re waiting on Wilson to take a page out of Bergevin’s book and fire the coach or trade away a key piece approaching their prime? Don’t hold your breath.

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.