Rookie who almost signed with Sharks getting bigger opportunity with Avs


Rookie who almost signed with Sharks getting bigger opportunity with Avs

The Sharks and Avalanche enter Tuesday night’s contest as kindred spirits, as both are without their top centers.

San Jose is set to play its sixth game without Joe Thornton, who’s out indefinitely after injuring his right MCL and undergoing surgery, and Colorado will play its third without Hart Trophy frontrunner Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon injured his shoulder in the Avalanche’s first game after the All-Star break.

In MacKinnon’s place skates a player who represents another point of commonality: 23-year-old rookie Alex Kerfoot. Kerfoot signed with Colorado this summer after a four-year career at Harvard, and San Jose was one of a handful of finalists for his signature.

He ultimately chose the Avalanche because he’d have the opportunity to make the NHL right away, and have the chance to grow into an even bigger role thanks to the eventual trade of Matt Duchene. So far, the decision’s paid off: Kerfoot’s tied for ninth among rookies in goals (12) and tied for seventh in points (32), despite averaging just 13:35 per night in ice time.

That’s not an opportunity he would have gotten right away with the Sharks. San Jose’s gotten contributions from second, third, and even fourth-year players, but the rookie forwards have had more difficulty.

Marcus Sorensen’s become something of a regular, but has managed only three goals in 18 games in a fourth-line role. Danny O’Regan’s shuttled back and forth between the Sharks and AHL Barracuda, and has also spent most of his time on the fourth line.

Considering Kerfoot has 25 more points than the combination of O’Regan and Sorensen, it’s reasonable to wonder what could have been. If anything, though, Kerfoot’s relative success reiterates how much circumstances matter when developing players.

For instance, Kerfoot is averaging 3.67 shots per 60 minutes of five-on-five play, according to Natural Stat Trick. That’s more than O’Regan (2.2) and Sorensen (3.06), yes, but not nearly enough to explain such a massive difference in production.

That’s especially true when you consider Kerfoot barely plays more than Sorensen and O’Regan in five-on-five situations. He only averages 1:09 in five-on-five ice time than Sorensen, and 46 seconds more than O’Regan.

The difference is opportunity. Kerfoot regularly skates on the power play, and has spent most of his five-on-five ice time with Nail Yakupov (nine goals) and J.T. Compher (10). O’Regan’s gotten some looks on the power play, but both he and Sorensen have spent most of their time at even strength with Joel Ward (four goals) and Barclay Goodrow (four).

It’s tempting to look at Kerfoot’s season and say San Jose missed out on a productive rookie, but it’s also fair to wonder how productive O’Regan or Sorensen would be in Colorado if given the same opportunity. Nurture, not just nature, is vitally important to developing prospects, and the Sharks simply would not have been able to develop Kerfoot under the same circumstances as the Avalanche.

Sharks pick up first win of homestand as Burns moves back to blueline


Sharks pick up first win of homestand as Burns moves back to blueline


SAN JOSE --Brent Burns and Chris Tierney each had a goal and an assist, and the San Jose Sharks beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 on Thursday for their third win in four games.

Mikkel Boedker and Marcus Sorensen also scored for the Sharks, who improved to 3-0-1 against the Canucks this season. Martin Jones stopped 29 shots.

Daniel Sedin scored for the Canucks, who lost their sixth in seven games. Anders Nilsson made 40 stops.

Boedker scored at 8:41 of the first period, picking up a soft rebound from Tierney's shot.

Burns scored his 10th goal, tops among NHL defensemen, taking a pass from Joakim Ryan and sending a laser shot into the net just under five minutes into the second.

Sorensen scored his first goal since Dec. 23, punching it in with an assist from Justin Braun at 3:06 into the third. Marc-Edouard Vlasic had an assist in his third straight game, getting the second assist on Sorensen's goal.

Sedin scored at 6:43, taking a nice pass from Thomas Vanek that gave him clear shot into the net. It was Sedin's 14th goal, one shy of his total last season.

Tierney made it 4-1 after taking a nice pass from Burns with 7 1/2 minutes remaining.

NOTES:Tim Heed was recalled from the AHL and joined a makeshift Sharks lineup, allowing Burns to play up front at times. ... Sharks C Logan Couture has points in four of his last five games. ... Boedker recorded games in consecutive games for the second time this season, and the first since Jan. 15-16. ... Sedin has five points against the Sharks this season and 45 in 69 games. He's recorded points in three straight.


Canucks: Host Boston on Saturday.

Sharks: Host Dallas on Sunday.

Sharks co-prez: Original fin logo to 'start showing back up again'


Sharks co-prez: Original fin logo to 'start showing back up again'

Fans of the original set of San Jose Sharks logos can rejoice: The fin is coming back in a yet-to-be-announced capacity. 

The original secondary logo, a gray fin atop a teal background enclosed by a black circle, "will start showing back up again in a special surprise appearance next year," Sharks co-president Jonathan Becher told NBC Sports California in an interview with Brodie Brazil and alongside co-president John Tortora on Sharks Pregame Live. The logo appeared as a shoulder patch on the team's home and away jerseys from 1991-98, and on its black alternate jersey from 2001-07.

Becher did not elaborate what form that 'special surprise appearance' will take, but it's possible it will appear on an alternate jersey. In Adidas' first season as the league's jersey manufacturer, no teams have alternate jerseys this year, aside from the teams that played in the league's various outdoor games. 

That's reportedly set to change next season. 24-26 teams will have alternate jerseys, the league told Greg Wyshynski in June, and some teams will utilize previous designs. The Sharks wore a version of their original teal jersey as a 25th anniversary alternate during the 2015-16 season -- perhaps it will return next season? 

Becher also told NBC Sports California that the team's newest alternate logo, the 'yelling shark' featured on the shoulders of their current teal jerseys, will begin making more appearances. It will not replace the current logo, Becher said.