Sharks

Aaron Dell leads Sharks to 'gutsy' win against rival Golden Knights

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AP

Aaron Dell leads Sharks to 'gutsy' win against rival Golden Knights

The word "gutsy" was used a few times by the Sharks after Thursday's win in Vegas, and it's easy to understand why.

The odds certainly were not in San Jose's favor heading into the third battle of the season with the Golden Knights. The Sharks were without one of their best forwards in Tomas Hertl and heading into a tough building to play a team that had dominated them twice back in October. But instead of letting the rival Vegas squad get into their heads, the Sharks put a mean product out on the ice and played one of their most complete games on the season, winning 2-1 in overtime.

So, yes, gutsy is a good way to categorize the victory.

"Huge win for the boys," Timo Meier told reporters after the game. "We knew it was a good challenge coming into this game and some guys stepped up. We had everybody chipping in, we had all guys on board. And that's what we need."

Aaron Dell agreed. "I think it was just a great character win," the netminder said. "I think it showed it doesn't matter who's in or who's out, that we can get the job done."

San Jose was short-handed heading into the game with Hertl out of the lineup with an injury he sustained in Tuesday's loss to the Oilers. Then the Sharks lost more bodies as the game went on, with Radim Simek and Melker Karlsson missing time towards the end of the contest. 

Still, San Jose found a way to buckle down and come out on top.

"We were short by the end there," captain Logan Couture told Sharks' play-by-play announcer Randy Hahn after the game. "We only dressed 11 up front, and then Melker went down and Simek went down on the back end. Just a really gutsy performance from us."

Even with bodies missing, the rest of San Jose's arsenal was able to pick up the slack, from Meier's big hits to Couture's persistence on the game-winner in overtime. Perhaps the biggest standout of the night, though, was Dell. The backup goalie rebounded magnificently from his previous bad starts, locking down the crease and limiting Vegas to one goal on the evening.

Not bad for a guy who hadn't started a game in nearly three weeks.

"Dell was huge all night," Couture complimented. "He played unbelievable. He hadn't played in 10 or 11 days and for him to come in, in this environment, against a team that shoots a lot, he stood on his head for us and gave us a chance to win it."

Dell attributed his success to getting lots of practice time in between his starts, but ultimately turned the focus to how the team in front of him was playing.

"We played solid defensively the whole game and waited for our chances," he said. "We stuck to our game plan and we really didn't give them a whole lot."

Now, the Sharks are going to have to keep that push going. Head coach Peter DeBoer told reporters after the game that both Karlsson and Simek were banged up, leaving questions as to what San Jose's lineup might look like Saturday against the red-hot New York Islanders. 

Regardless of whether or not Karlsson and Simek are able to play, the Sharks might want to have another gutsy effort on deck.

2020 NHL Draft lottery: Sharks benefit from Rangers getting No. 1 pick

2020 NHL Draft lottery: Sharks benefit from Rangers getting No. 1 pick

The Sharks' NHL draft lottery woes didn't go from bad to worse Monday.

The Ottawa Senators won't get the chance to select top prospect Alexis Lafreniere with the Sharks' pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, and none of San Jose's division or conference rivals will be able to select him, either. The New York Rangers won Phase 2 of the draft lottery, grabbing the No. 1 selection in this year's draft after bowing out to the Carolina Hurricanes in the qualifying round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Lafreniere, widely expected to be the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, has franchise-defining talent. He has scored a whopping 297 points in the last three years in the QMJHL, including 112 in 52 games this season. The Sharks can rest easy knowing no team in the Pacific Division or Western Conference will have Lafreniere on a rookie deal for the next three years, though it was a possibility.

The Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets each had a 12.5 percent chance of landing the top pick (and thus Lafreniere) entering Monday night. Each team had at least 15 more points than the cellar-dwelling Sharks when the NHL season was suspended in March, and San Jose's path back to contention is fraught enough without adding a Lafreniere-starring team in the division or conference.

[RELATED: Why bringing Marleau back makes plenty of sense for Sharks]

The Sharks surely breathed a sigh of relief once they learned the Senators would select No. 3 overall with the pick San Jose used to acquire defenseman Erik Karlsson nearly two years ago, and they can do so again knowing Lafreniere won't be out west. The 2019-20 season will still sting, of course, if Ottawa's selection is used to draft an eventual franchise cornerstone, but the Sharks haven't had many victories to fall back upon in the last calendar year and this would certainly qualify.

It won't mean much if the Sharks aren't soon able to chart a path back to contention, though.

Why Sharks should sign Patrick Marleau for third go-around in San Jose

Why Sharks should sign Patrick Marleau for third go-around in San Jose

It has been widely presumed that if Patrick Marleau returns for a 23rd NHL season, he will do so with the Sharks, back where it all began.

He still is without a Stanley Cup on his career résumé after he and the Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens in the qualifying round of the NHL's expanded playoff format. The Penguins acquired him prior to the trade deadline in exchange for a 2021 third-round draft pick after he returned for his second go-around with San Jose early in the season.

Based on what his wife, Christina, tweeted Friday, it appears Marleau already has made up his mind about playing next season.

That really shouldn't come as a surprise. Though he isn't the top-end player he once was, Marleau showed this past season that he still has some left in the tank. And, on top of that, he only needs to play in 45 more games to pass NHL legend Gordie Howe for the most games played in league history.

Frankly, it would only be fitting if he set the record in a Sharks sweater. And now it would appear the ball is in San Jose's court as to whether or not Marleau will return to the franchise that drafted him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1997 Entry Draft.

Aside from the appetizing narrative, there's reason why Marleau might get a third go-around in teal. All indications are that the Sharks intend to return to playoff contention next season, but due to their salary structure, don't expect any large salaries to be brought in -- San Jose already has plenty of those. Consequently, the Sharks are going to need to fill the lineup with some minimum-salaried players.

[RELATED: Sharks' Hertl 'finally back' on ice after tearing ACL, MCL]

At this point, you can bet that money isn't a top consideration for Marleau. If a true Cup contender doesn't present him with an offer, it would be difficult to envision a more appealing destination for him than San Jose. Marleau could be signed for the veteran's minimum, and given he scored 10 goals in 58 games with the Sharks this year, that might be a pretty good value.

It's certainly possible the Sharks find a superior player to take Marleau's hypothetical spot, or would rather give it to a younger player that is part of the future.

If that's not the case, though, signing Mr. Shark makes an awful lot of sense.