Sharks

Sharks trade Mueller, pick to Devils for two draft picks

Sharks trade Mueller, pick to Devils for two draft picks

For the second time this year, the Sharks have traded away a former first-round pick.
 
Defenseman Mirco Mueller has been packaged to the New Jersey Devils, along with a 2017 fifth round draft pick, for second and fourth round selections in the 2017 draft the club announced on Saturday.

The Sharks now have eight selections in next weekend’s draft in Chicago, including their own first round pick (19th overall) and New Jersey’s second rounder (49th overall).
 
Mueller was selected 18th overall by the Sharks in 2013 and played in 54 career games for the club over three seasons (2g, 4a, 17 PIM). He managed to play in just four games in 2016-17, though, and was seemingly passed over by other young blueliners in the organization like Dylan DeMelo, Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan. The Sharks added Czech free agent defenseman Radim Simek and Union College’s Nick DeSimone in recent weeks, bolstering their organizational depth at that position, and also have 2015 second round pick Jeremy Roy.
 
The deal was made just before Saturday’s noon trade freeze sandwiched round the expansion draft. Mueller, 22, was eligible to be chosen by the Vegas Golden Knights, and was almost certainly not going to be protected by the Sharks. He is a pending restricted free agent.
 
Compared to Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic on draft day primarily due to his strong skating ability, Mueller did not pan out as hoped. The Sharks shoulder some of the blame as Mueller was rushed to the NHL in 2013-14, likely stunting his growth and messing with his head. 
 
Compounding the letdown is that the Sharks traded a second round pick to Detroit in the 2013 draft to move up just two places to select Mueller. They used their remaining second round pick to choose Gabryel Boudreau, who is no longer with the organization, partially due to injury.
 
A fresh start on a rebuilding team could serve Mueller – who has plenty of raw ability, with a sprinkle of grit – well in his career.
 
That the Sharks managed to get second and fourth round picks for Mueller is commendable, as earlier in the day the Montreal Canadiens managed to get just a third round pick from Buffalo for NHL regular Nathan Beaulieu. The Sharks did not have a second round pick in the 2017 draft before the trade, as it was sent to Toronto as part of the Roman Polak/Nick Spaling trade in 2016.
 
"We want to thank Mirco for his years of service to the San Jose Sharks and the San Jose Barracuda organizations," general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "This will be an excellent opportunity for Mirco to continue his development and with our organization's depth on the blue line, an opportunity for us to acquire assets for the future. We wish him the best."
 
The Sharks sent 2014 first round pick Nikolay Goldobin (27th overall, 2014) to Vancouver as part of the deal for Jannik Hansen on Feb. 28. They did not have a first round pick at last year’s draft, as that was previously traded to Boston for goalie Martin Jones.

Jones strong in goal, contains Coyotes to snap Sharks' three-game skid

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USATSI

Jones strong in goal, contains Coyotes to snap Sharks' three-game skid

BOX SCORE

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Logan Couture scored another goal for San Jose but was happier to see the Sharks' top line get untracked.

"We've got to get those guys going to help us offensively," Couture said of teammates Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Timo Meier after the Sharks' 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night. "We need them to produce."

Thornton opened the scoring for the Sharks, with Pavelski adding an assist, the pair's first points since November 8, a span of five games.

"I think with Timo with us last game it brought us a lot of energy and a lot of chances," said Thornton, who scored his first goal since October 26. "Me and Pavs really like playing with him."

Joel Ward added an empty-net goal with 47.8 to play for the Sharks, who snapped a three-game losing streak.

"We got enough offense to win," said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. "That's all that matters. I thought we played a good road game. I don't care how it looks."

Brendan Perlini scored with 7:37 to go, ruining Sharks goalie Martin Jones' bid for his second shutout of the season. The Coyotes saw their season-high three-game winning streak snapped and lost for the eighth time in nine home games (1-7-1).

Jones finished with 26 saves.

"We defended really well," said Jones, who was tested seriously only twice in the first two periods. "The first 10 minutes they had a lot of jump and were buzzing around our zone, but after that not as much."

Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta left at 14:37 of the first period with an upper-body injury. Couture had collided with Raanta more than four minutes earlier, earning an interference penalty. Raanta skated to the bench during a stoppage in play and retreated to the locker room.

Scott Wedgewood took Raanta's place and was in net for only five seconds before the Sharks broke through. Wedgewood stopped Brent Burns' long shot from the top of the right circle even after it deflected off San Jose right wing Timo Meier. But the rebound kicked to the bottom of the right circle, where Thornton swept in and beat the goalie with a quick wrist shot.

"He (coach Rick Tocchet) looked at me and said go," Wedgewood. "I was like, alright. That's the tough part. Then shot, top, goal. That was tough."

San Jose made it 2-0 at 4:56 of the second, taking advantage of Arizona's inability to clear the zone while the Sharks were on a line change.

Justin Braun fought three Coyotes for the puck along the right boards before Joonas Donskoi swooped in, skated to the goal line then sent a pass across to Couture. Couture deked Wedgewood to the ice with a forehand fake, then scored on the backhand.

Perlini cut the lead to 2-1 when he redirected Derek Stepan's shot from the top of the right circle past Jones.

"We had some costly mistakes," Perlini said. "We got back within a goal but there were too many mistakes."

NOTES: Thornton has 22 goals and 83 points in 82 career games against Arizona. ... The Coyotes, who had played seven of their past eight on the road, opened a three-game homestand. ... Raanta made eight saves before leaving and has stopped 98 of the past 105 shots he's faced. ... Couture's goal was his first in five games.

UP NEXT:

Sharks: visit Las Vegas on Friday

Coyotes: host Los Angeles on Friday.

Don't blame Joakim Ryan for Brent Burns' struggles

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AP

Don't blame Joakim Ryan for Brent Burns' struggles

Over the last three years, Brent Burns played with only one defensive partner more in a single season than he has with Joakim Ryan in 2017-18.

That partner, of course, is Paul Martin, who’s missed all but two games this season due to complications from offseason ankle surgery. Martin is set to miss yet more time after experiencing a setback in his recovery, although the injury is not related to his ailing ankle, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Martin’s absence, combined with the fact that Burns has gone 20 games without a goal this season, has naturally led to questions about whether their separation is causing Burns to struggle.

That’s not the case.

Burns is actually playing a bit better alongside Ryan than he was with Martin. In just over 257 minutes together at even strength, the Sharks have controlled 55.74 percent of the shot attempts with Burns and Ryan on the ice, according to Corsica Hockey, up from Burns and Martin’s 52.13 percent mark together.

The Sharks are attempting more shots than their opponents when Burns and Ryan play, they’re doing so at a higher rate. With Burns and Ryan on the ice, the Sharks are attempting nearly nine more shots per 60 minutes than when Burns and Martin together, and just over two more shots per 60 minutes are hitting the net.

As we’ve written about previously, Burns’ scoring struggles date back to the stretch run last season, when he was playing alongside Martin. It wasn’t Martin’s fault then, just as it’s not Ryan’s fault now.

The puck simply isn’t going in. Through 20 games this season, Burns has 82 shots on goal and zero goals. Through 20 games in his Norris Trophy-winning campaign, Burns had 83 shots on goal and seven goals.

It’s not like Burns was super lucky then, either, as his 8.3 percent shooting percentage through 20 games last season was only one percent higher than his career average. Shooting at a zero percent clip after 20 games is, clearly, the outlier.

Together, Burns and Ryan have been more unlucky than anything else. When the two skate during five-on-five play, the Sharks are scoring on only 3.45 percent of their shots, much lower than the 8.26 percent San Jose scored on when Martin and Burns played together.

At 32 years old, it would be a stretch to expect Burns to match or exceed his heights from a season ago, but it would be an even bigger one to expect him to struggle much longer alongside Ryan. 

They've done everything right, they just haven't scored.