Boedker will be healthy scratch against Wild

Boedker will be healthy scratch against Wild

SAN JOSE – The Sharks’ most notable offseason addition will be a healthy scratch on Thursday, as struggling winger Mikkel Boedker won’t play against the Wild at SAP Center.

Boedker, who has two goals and six assists for eight points in 38 games, was benched for most of the third period of Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Kings. 

Pete DeBoer, who has known Boedker since coaching him in juniors, was asked what the 27-year-old could learn from a night off.

“I know this kid and I know his character. My conversation with him was, heading into Christmas, he probably played eight or 10 of the best games he’s played here. Might have been our best player six or seven of those nights. 

“He’s 40 games in, he knows our systems. He knows how we want to play. He’s been able to play that way and been effective for more than a game or two. He’s done it for a stretch. Now, it’s just consistently bringing that. 

“This is a tough division we’re in. You can’t take your foot off the gas. We’ve got tough decisions to make every night, and we’ve got good players sitting out. I think that’s the message, and he gets it. I’m sure we’ll get a good response when he’s back in.”

Boedker was also benched in the third period of a game on Nov. 26 against the Ducks. He recorded an assist in each of the next two games, and has six assists in his last 16 games overall. 

He hasn’t scored a goal in his last 28 games, however, despite playing on the second line right wing with Logan Couture for the eight of the last nine games.

When the Sharks signed Boedker to a four-year, $16 million contract in the offseason, DeBoer and general manager Doug Wilson both indicated that Boedker would benefit from playing with more skilled centermen than he did in his eight seasons in Arizona. In 21 of his 38 games, Boedker has started in the top six, either with Couture or Joe Thornton in the middle.

DeBoer has had no hesitation in scratching struggling forwards this season, in search of a consistent offensive attack. Joel Ward, Joonas Donskoi and Tommy Wingels have all taken turns in the press box, with Wingels sitting for the last five. Matt Nieto, waived and claimed by Colorado on Thursday morning, was pushed out of the lineup as rookies Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier have come up to claim spots.

Wingels will return against the Wild, centering the fourth line with Melker Karlsson and Micheal Haley.

Regarding the internal competition up front, Wingels said: “I think going into this season we knew that the situation we were going to be in. It just forces guys to work harder.”

Joonas Donskoi lends helping hand to Sharks rookie Antti Suomela


Joonas Donskoi lends helping hand to Sharks rookie Antti Suomela

SAN JOSE -- When Sharks winger Joonas Donskoi first tried to make the team in 2015, he didn’t know it would be so hard to get a cell phone. 

“I was trying to get a phone plan, and they said I had no history in the [United States], so I had to pay a deposit for pretty much anything I do,” Donskoi recalled Tuesday at the Sharks practice facility. 

To that point, the forward had only played professionally in his home country of Finland. But after spending parts of six years playing for Karpat in SM-liiga, Donskoi signed with San Jose in May 2015, with the hopes of cracking the NHL. He made the team out of camp, and hasn’t spent a minute in the minors, despite initially struggling learning a new language and acclimating to a new country.

Still, Donskoi said, having a familiar face would’ve helped. 

“Oh for sure. I had my biggest problems maybe off the ice, and my language was not that perfect,” Donskoi said. “A lot of things were new for me, and it was really hard at the beginning.” 

Now, Donskoi has an opportunity to pass on what he learned. Fellow Finnish forward Antti Suomela is trying to make the same transition Donskoi made three years ago, and make the Sharks’ opening night roster in his first NHL training camp. 

Suomela, a center, signed a one-year, entry-level deal with San Jose on June 6. He led SM-liiga in scoring last season with 60 points (21 goals, 39 assists), and won a European Champions Hockey League title with JYP. 

The 24-year-old likely would have competed for the team’s fourth-line center spot, but center Chris Tierney’s inclusion in the Erik Karlsson trade created an opening down the middle of the team’s third line as well. That’s where Suomela has spent much of camp, skating with Kevin Labanc on one wing, and Donskoi on the other in most practices, as well as two preseason games. 

Donskoi didn’t meet Suomela before he signed with San Jose, but spoke with him when he was thinking about joining the Sharks. Since Suomela’s been in camp, Donskoi’s tried to help his adjustment on the ice and off of it. The rookie is still learning the language, but Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said Donskoi’s helped bridge any gaps.

“It’s nice that Joonas is there to kind of interpret for him when he doesn’t understand what’s going on,” DeBoer said, “but to also help him on the ice. I think when you have a familiar guy that plays the same way you do, it makes the transition easier.” 

Suomela’s played in all three of San Jose’s preseason games, but did not travel with the team Tuesday for their game in Calgary against the Flames. He scored three points in his second game, but did not have a shot on goal in his third on Saturday. 

The rookie found nice chemistry with Labanc and Donskoi in the first two games, as the Sharks attempted two-thirds of the five-on-five shots -- and nearly 78 percent of the scoring chances -- with the trio on the ice, according to Natural Stat Trick. Without Labanc and Donskoi on Saturday, San Jose was out-attempted 9-6 and out-chanced 3-1. 

“I think he’s done a good job,” DeBoer said. “I thought his first game, he was feeling things out. I thought the second game was fantastic. I thought the third game was okay. He’ll get another game here, and it’s gonna be an important one.”

Thursday figures to be the closest approximation to the Sharks’ opening night lineup. DeBoer said the plan is for Karlsson to play against the Flames that night at SAP Center for his first  game of the preseason, barring some last-minute looks at other players competing for spots. Where Suomela is penciled in, and his performance thereafter, should provide insight into his bid to stay in the NHL after camp. 

In the meantime, Donskoi will continue to help his countryman acclimate to life in San Jose. So far, he's made sure to keep his linemate in his sights outside of practice, too.

“I’ve just been going with him everywhere he goes,” Donskoi said with a laugh. “His English is probably not the best yet, so I’m just trying to help him as much as I can.” 

Everywhere, one imagines, will surely include a trip to buy a cell phone.

Erik Karlsson unveils Sharks' black third jersey with an on-ice skate

San Jose Sharks

Erik Karlsson unveils Sharks' black third jersey with an on-ice skate

Erik Karlsson did not play for the Sharks in Saturday's preseason game against the Vegas Golden Knights, but he still managed to suit up. 

Karlsson took the ice in front of the fans at SAP Center as a Shark for the first time, all while wearing San Jose's newest uniform. He officially unveiled a black alternate jersey that the Sharks will wear in 13 home games this season. 

Teal is the only prominent accent color aside from some orange in the shark's eye. It looks like Martin Jones' new mask design offered a bit of a thematic preview of the Sharks' new look.  

The "Stealth" jersey also features a black-and-teal version of San Jose's original secondary logo, a cool nod to the franchise's history. Sharks co-president John Tortora told NBC Sports California's Brodie Brazil in February that the logo would "start showing back up again."

In all, it's the third black jersey in the club's history, and the team's first alternate uniform since Adidas took over as the NHL's jersey manufacturer last season. 

The Sharks will wear the jersey in every Thursday night and Friday night home game -- as well as one Saturday. The full schedule for the uniform is as follows:

  • Thursday, Oct. 18 vs. Buffalo
  • Thursday, Nov. 1 vs. Columbus
  • Saturday, Nov. 3 vs. Philadelphia
  • Thursday, Nov. 15 vs. Toronto
  • Friday, Nov. 23 vs. Vancouver
  • Thursday, Dec. 13 vs. Dallas
  • Thursday, Dec. 20 vs. Winnipeg
  • Thursday, Dec. 27 vs. Anaheim
  • Thursday, Feb. 14 vs. Washington
  • Friday, March 1 vs. Colorado
  • Thursday, March 7 vs. Montreal
  • Thursday, March 14 vs. Florida
  • Thursday, March 28 vs. Chicago