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.

Sharks to open second round Thursday

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AP

Sharks to open second round Thursday

The Sharks know when they'll open the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. T

San Jose will face off against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of the second round at 7 p.m. PT on Thursday, April 26 in Sin City, the NHL announced Tuesday. The league also announced start dates for the three other second-round series, but did not announce any games beyond that.

Game 2 will "likely" occur Saturday at 5 p.m, according to Golden Knights owner Bill Foley. 

Game 1 will be televised on NBCSN. Sharks Playoff Central will air on NBC Sports California at 6:30 p.m. leading up to puck drop, with a postgame edition to follow after the final horn on the same channel. 

Red-hot Sharks power play, Golden Knights penalty kill on collision course

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AP

Red-hot Sharks power play, Golden Knights penalty kill on collision course

The Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights were the first two teams to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The former's power play, and the latter's penalty kill were among the chief reasons why. 

This postseason, San Jose's power play (30 percent) and Vegas' penalty kill (92.3 percent) are third-best and best in the respective categories. The Sharks haven't played in nearly a week, but have still scored the second-most power play goals (six) in the first round as of Tuesday. The Golden Knights haven't played in exactly a week, and have still given up the fewer power play goals (one)  than every team, save for the Los Angeles Kings, who they swept in the first round. 

On the season, the San Jose power play and the Vegas penalty kill were among the better units in the league in terms of underlying numbers, but really improved down the stretch. Over their last 25 regular season games and the first round, the Sharks attempted shots (117.15 corsi-for per hour) and generated expected goals (9.13 expected goals-for per hour)) at rates that would have ranked second in each area on the whole season, according to Corsica Hockey.

During the Golden Knights' final 25 regular season games and first four playoff games, their penalty kill suppressed shot attempts (92.8 corsi-against per hour), shots (49.97 shots-against per hour), and expected goals (5.9 expected goals-against per hour) at rates that would have ranked second, fourth, and first, respectively, this past season.

In the first round, the results finally caught up to the underlying numbers for both teams. San Jose converted on only 13 percent of its power plays in the final 25 games of the regular season, while Vegas killed off 80.8 percent of its opponents' power plays. As is so often the case, the improvements were owed at least in part to better finishing and goaltending. 

The Sharks scored on 9.71 percent of their five-on-four shots down the stretch, compared to 14.71 percent in the first round. Marc-Andre Fleury posted a .952 four-on-five save percentage in the first round, compared to the .859 that he and backup Malcolm Subban combined for in the final 25 games. 

San Jose's power play and Vegas' penalty kill are red-hot, but those results are largely deserved based on each group's play down the stretch. Which unit has the edge just may swing the series, considering how tight the Sharks and Golden Knights played each other during the regular season. 

Three of four games were decided by a goal, and two went to overtime. The fourth was decided by two, only because of an empty-netter. 

The margins are so thin, including in the crease, that the outcome of this special teams battle could determine which team advances to the Conference Finals.