Sharks

Sharks prospect impresses at junior camp

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Sharks prospect impresses at junior camp

Sharks prospect Sean Kuraly is making quite an impression at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp this week in Lake Placid, NY.

Kuraly, a fifth round pick of the Sharks in 2010, leads the Americans with five goals, including one on Wednesday that put the United States up for good in a 5-2 win over Finland at Herb Brooks Arena.

NHL.coms Adam Kimelman caught up with Kuraly after the game, and paints a picture of a 19-year-old player who is seemingly putting all parts of his game together as he continues his development.

In 2010-11, his first season with the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League, he had eight goals in 51 games. He had opportunities to score more, but while his legs got him into wide-open spaces, he couldn't get his head or his hands to into the right position to put the puck in the net.

"He's always had that blinding speed," U.S. goalie Jon Gillies, a teammate the past two seasons with Indiana, told NHL.com. "He would have six or seven breakaways a game and he may have scored one of them his first year."

Kuraly said it was a question of getting all the facets of his game going the right way, which he was able to do when he returned to Indiana for the start of the 2011-12 season.

"The first year I got about six breakaways a game and I'd score once out of every four games," he said. "Last year I got two a game and buried maybe one a game. It all came together got everything on the same page -- my hands with my legs and my head. When it comes together, things slow down a little bit and you don't have to go 100 mph."

Kuralys line consists of Ottawa prospect Stefan Noesen, a first round pick in 2011, and Mario Lucia, a second round choice of the Minnesota Wild in 2011.

But its Kuralys hard work and all-around effort thats making the line go, according to head coach Phil Housley. In four games, the line has a combined nine goals and seven assists for 16 points.

While his NHL debut is likely still a few years away, if things continue to progress for him, Kuraly could join a long list of names drafted by the Sharks in the later rounds that have found professional success. Players like Joe Pavelski (7th round, 2003), Ryane Clowe (6th round, 2001), Douglas Murray (8th round, 1999) and Justin Braun (7th round, 2007) are the best examples of that on the current roster.

Kuralys USA squad plays Sweden on Thursday.

Recovered from injuries, Joonas Donskoi returning to form just in time for Sharks

Recovered from injuries, Joonas Donskoi returning to form just in time for Sharks

Joonas Donskoi’s first goal of the season all but sealed the Sharks’ 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

It was also a long time coming, too. The Finnish forward finished a chance for the first time in 28 regular season games, 33 if you include his goal-less postseason. He last scored on January 7, when Patrick Marleau was a Shark and San Jose still held a share of the Pacific Division lead.

He struggled mightily after that, largely due to injury. Donskoi separated his shoulder not once, but twice last season, and revealed to The Athletic this week that he also dealt with “foot issues.” He spent over a month on injured reserve and managed just three assists in his final 22 games as a result.

With health on his side, Donskoi’s returned to his rookie year form. Through six games, he's registered three points, all at even strength. That’s tied with Joe Pavelski for the team lead, despite the fact he’s played nearly four minutes less per game at even strength than the captain.

He’s done a lot in less ice time, scoring five-on-five points at a higher rate per 60 minutes than any player on the team, according to Natural Stat Trick. He’s done a lot against lesser competition, too, taking advantage of his assignments in Peter DeBoer’s bottom six forward group.

That’s an important development, given the disappearance of San Jose’s depth scoring last season. Only four Sharks forwards cracked 40 points last season, and one of them is in Toronto. Most damning, though, is that the same number managed to score 30 or more points last year. The Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, by contrast, had eight forwards score 30 points in the regular season.

It’s still early in the season, but Donskoi’s underlying numbers indicate this level of play is built to last. His personal shooting percentage is below his career-high, and the Sharks are scoring on a reasonable 6.52% of their shots with Donskoi on the ice in five-on-five situations. That’s only half-a-percentage point higher than San Jose’s rate during Donskoi’s injury-riddled 2016-17.

Donskoi will undoubtedly hit some bumps in the road, but after struggling so much last season, it appears the 25-year-old is back on track. If the Sharks are to improve on last season, they desperately need depth scorers.

Thanks to Donskoi’s resurgence, they just might have found one.

Sharks win second straight, beat Devils to start road trip

Sharks win second straight, beat Devils to start road trip

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. — Martin Jones made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season and 16th overall in the San Jose Sharks' 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi scored and Justin Braun had two assists to help the Sharks open a five-game East Coast trip.

Keith Kinkaid, the top goalie for New Jersey with Cory Schneider on injured reserve, stopped 30 shots as the Devils' three-game winning streak came to an end.

The Devils couldn't muster a strong push in the later stages against the rested Sharks. It was New Jersey's second game two nights following a 5-4 overtime victory in Ottawa. And it showed against the Sharks, who played a solid road game, pressed their advantage and solidly supported Jones.

Karlsson scored the lone goal of the opening period at 14:11 on a close-in shot following a slick behind-the-net setup pass from Tomas Hertl.

The shots were 13 for each team in the evenly played period. The Devils came close on several occasions as former Shark Mirco Mueller and Blake Coleman both hit the crossbar and Jones robbed Drew Stafford on a dead-on drive from the slot.

Pavelski and Donskoi got second-period goals as the Sharks steadily tightened their grip on the game.

Pavelski tipped in Braun's point shot at 5:49. Joe Thornton got the second assist, his 1,395th point, to pass Luc Robitaille for 21st on the career list.

Donskoi backhanded a rebound shot with 1:10 left in the period in which the Sharks outshot the Devils 11-6.

The remaining drama centered on Jones' shutout bid.

NOTES: The Devils placed Schneider on injured reserve Friday with a lower-body injury and recalled Scott Wedgewood from Binghamton of the American Hockey League to serve as Kinkaid's backup. ... Mueller, a healthy scratch in three of the previous four games, returned for the Devils to face the Sharks, the team that drafted him in the first round, for the first time. He was dealt to New Jersey over the summer.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

Devils: Host Ottawa on Friday night.