Sharks

Wilson 'talking to every team' ahead of expansion draft deadline

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USATI

Wilson 'talking to every team' ahead of expansion draft deadline

Typically this time of year, NHL general managers and their respective staffs are busy preparing for the upcoming entry draft, deciding what to do with their pending free agents, and thinking about potential free agent targets for July 1.

While that’s all surely going on, it’s the expansion draft that is on the top of Doug Wilson’s mind at the moment. The Sharks, like every other NHL team, must submit their list of protected players before Saturday’s 2 p.m. deadline.

The Sharks’ general manager indicated there are plenty of wheels in motion for his club leading up to that deadline. He has still not determined (or is not willing to publicly reveal) whether the Sharks will protect eight skaters and one goalie - allowing them to protect four defensemen - or seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie.

“We’ve fleshed it all out. We can go either way. Still some time between now and tomorrow when we have to submit our list, so things can change between now and then,” Wilson said on Friday. 

“I think we’re leaning towards one direction than the other, but between now and then things could change. I’ve been certainly talking to every team and will be talking to Las Vegas prior to our submission time tomorrow.”

The NHL permits its member clubs to make deals with Las Vegas centered around which player is selected. For example – and this is only an example – if the Sharks would like the Golden Knights to select Mikkel Boedker and his hefty contract, rather than someone else from their roster, they could sweeten the pot by offering further assets like a draft pick or a prospect.

Wilson left the option of a deal with Vegas on the table, while indicating there could be moves made with other teams, too.

“[A deal with Vegas] is a possibility, but we’re exploring hockey trades, also,” Wilson said. “All teams have been in communication with each other. There are some teams that are positioned differently than others with the expansion draft. We feel we’re pretty comfortable.”

“Some teams I’m sure are trying to do deals with Las Vegas if they have higher end players that they’re willing to subsidize. I’m sure Las Vegas will explore acquiring players that they could put in the market the following week. It will be an interesting week.”

Leading the Golden Knights’ draft is general manager George McPhee, who spent 17 seasons in charge of the Washington Capitals, helping that club rise to prominence. Wilson expects McPhee, who has hired the well-regarded Gerard Gallant to be the franchise’s first head coach, to ice a competitive team – and a Pacific Division rival of the Sharks – in short order.

“It won’t take them long to be good,” Wilson said. “[McPhee] did it in Washington, he built that organization. They’ll get a pretty good head start, better than a lot of expansion teams have in the past. I remember us 26 years ago probably didn’t have this type of advantage. But, I think they’ll have a good team. I do.”

The protected lists will be revealed publicly on Sunday morning at 7 a.m., while the Golden Knights’ roster will be unveiled at the NHL Awards show on Wednesday, June 21 in Las Vegas. There is a trade freeze from noon Saturday though 5 a.m. on Thursday, June 22.

Labanc, Sharks overcoming even strength scoring woes

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USATSI

Labanc, Sharks overcoming even strength scoring woes

Kevin Labanc’s first period goal in the Sharks’ Sunday win over the Ducks certainly didn’t look like it was just his fifth of the season, or only his third since opening night.

The 22-year-old, sprung in alone on a breakaway, sold Anaheim goaltender John Gibson on a fake shot with a leg kick, and snapped the puck past him into the top corner. You know a ‘goal-scorers goal’ when you see it, and you saw it 3:38 into the second period.

Labanc not only broke a 12-game, month-long goalless drought, but picked up his third point in as many games after scoring zero in his previous six. Despite his emergence as a force on the power play, all three points came during five-on-five play.

He’s generated six scoring chances in five-on-five situations in his last three games, according to Natural Stat Trick. That’s as many as Labanc accounted for in the six games preceding this run.

The same can be said about his five-on-five shot attempts (seven) and high-danger chances (two). His six shots on goal in his last three games are just one shy of also matching his five-on-five output over his six games prior.

In those categories, Labanc ranks third, third, and tied for second among Sharks forwards, as well as third in five-on-five scoring chances. He’s also tied with Mikkel Boedker for the forward-lead in five-on-five points over the last three games, despite playing only the eighth-most five-on-five minutes.

As Labanc’s broken out of an extended slump, so have the Sharks. Since returning from the bye week on Jan. 13, San Jose is fifth in five-on-five scoring rate (3.1 goals for/60 minutes), compared to 28th before their bye (1.91).

They’re also 5-1-0 during that time.

The Sharks, much like Labanc, were too reliant upon power play production prior to the NHL-mandated week off. Over half of Labanc’s points came with (at least) a man advantage, and 32 of San Jose’s 108 were scored on the power play.

Since, the second-year forward has only scored five-on-five points, while only five of the Sharks’ 23 goals were power play tallies. The power play’s still converting, but it’s not been the sole driver of San Jose’s offense.

It’s only a six-game sample, but the early five-on-five, post-bye week returns are promising for Labanc and the Sharks. The next step for both is to maintain that pace.

If Labanc and San Jose can, the Sharks may not need to shop for a top-six winger at the trade deadline after all.

Sharks dominate Ducks for two wins in two nights

Sharks dominate Ducks for two wins in two nights

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM -- Mikkel Boedker had two goals and an assist, Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist, and the San Jose Sharks beat the Anaheim Ducks 6-2 on Sunday night.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Kevin Labanc and Melker Karlsson also scored for the Sharks, who have won five of six. Aaron Dell stopped 33 shots.

Rickard Rakell and Ryan Getzlaf scored for Anaheim. John Gibson stopped only 17 of 22 shots and was replaced after giving up his fifth goal. Anaheim had a four-game home winning streak snapped.

Four goals came in the third period. First, Anaheim pulled within one when Ondrej Kase stole the puck from behind the net and quickly fed Getzlaf, who fired it past Dell.

One minute later, the Sharks answered when Thornton's slap shot went in.

Boedker's second goal gave San Joe a 5-2 lead, and Karlsson's goal on goalie Ryan Miller made it a runaway.

The Ducks first found the net in the final minute of the second period, but that took a two-man advantage and a bit of luck.

Rakell was camped a few feet below the crease when he snapped a shot. San Jose's Justin Braun stuck out a stick, but it deflected the puck off the back of Dell's arm and into the net.

It was Rakell's team-high 17th goal this season.

San Jose appeared to take a commanding 3-0 lead on a power play in the second period. Boedker fired a shot from the top of the right circle that whistled past Gibson.

The Sharks took a 2-0 lead early in the second period when Anaheim's No.1 line turned the puck over. Thornton snapped it out to Labanc, who popped free for a breakaway. He beat Gibson on his short side for his fifth goal.

The Sharks took a 1-0 lead late in the first period on a nifty give-and-go when Tomas Hertl skated down the far side and sent a pass through the legs of Anaheim's Brandon Montour and right to Vlasic in front of the net.

Vlasic snapped it past Gibson for his seventh goal of the season.

UP NEXT

Sharks: Return to San Jose on Tuesday night to play the Jets.

Ducks: Remain at home to play the Rangers on Tuesday night.