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.

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.