Sharks

Burns rewarded for in-season turnaround with fifth All-Star selection

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AP

Burns rewarded for in-season turnaround with fifth All-Star selection

All-Star weekend is about to get a lot hairier.

Reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns will represent the San Jose Sharks on the Pacific Division team at the NHL All-Star game in Tampa on Jan. 28. It will mark his fourth consecutive All-Star appearance, and the fifth of his career. 

After a slow start to the season, the 32-year-old was far from a lock to continue that streak. Burns managed to score just eight points, all assists, in his first 20 games, even as he pumped 84 shots on goal. 

He didn’t score his first goal of the season until Black Friday, but since then, Burns has scored 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists). Over that span, Burns is tied for 14th-most among skaters in points, and tops all defensemen. 

Despite the slow start, the Sharks blueliner is tied for sixth among defensemen in points (30), tied for eighth in goals (seven), and tied for seventh in assists (23). His 172 shots on goal lead all defensemen by at least 41 shots, and trails only Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Ovechkin, and Tyler Seguin. 

His slump-busting stretch hasn’t moved the Sharks much in the standings. Before Burns broke out, San Jose held the final wild card spot in the Western Conference by virtue of fewer games played than the teams with whom they were tied. Now, they hold the third and final spot in the Pacific Division, tied with the Calgary Flames (48 points) with two games in hand. 

Burns, who is tied for the team-lead in scoring with Logan Couture, was the only Shark named to the game. The Vegas Golden Knights (two) and the Los Angeles Kings (three), the top two teams in the Pacific, were the only teams in the division with multiple All-Stars. 

Each team needed at least one representative, so it likely came down to Burns and Couture to get the nod on the Sharks. Given Burns’ (and his beard’s) popularity, it’s not too surprising the league let the Wookiee in, although Couture will have a decent case as an injury replacement. 

Sharks avoid arbitration, re-sign Chris Tierney to two-year deal

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USATSI

Sharks avoid arbitration, re-sign Chris Tierney to two-year deal

Just two days before one was scheduled, the Sharks avoided an arbitration hearing with center Chris Tierney, and re-signed the restricted free agent to a two-year deal on Wednesday, the team announced. The deal is reportedly worth just shy of $2.94 million annually, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman

"Chris had his best season as a professional last year and stepped up his level of play in multiple areas," San Jose general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "We've always known he was a responsible, defensive-minded player, but he took his offensive game to the next tier and showed that he can be a productive player in all three zones. We look forward to watching him continue his evolution in 2018-19." 

Last season, the 24-year-old Tierney set career-highs in goals (17), assists (23), points (40), shots on goal (118), and ice time (16:00). Tierney also generated expected goals at the highest rate of his career (0.62 per hour), according to Corsica Hockey. 

A 2012 second-round pick, Tierney entered last season in an uncertain place. He signed his one-year, $735,000 qualifying offer last summer, and head coach Peter DeBoer challenged him to improve. 

“I came into the year wanting to prove a point. I believe in myself. I think I’m a good hockey player,” Tierney told the San Jose Mercury News in December. “I wanted to come in and show people that I could play an offensive role on the team.”  

DeBoer used Tierney slightly differently this season, as the forward started a career-high percentage of five-on-five shifts in the offensive zone (31.12 percent) and a career-low percentage of defensive zone starts (29.68 percent), per Corsica Hockey. Tierney responded in kind with his aforementioned career-best offensive numbers, and seized the third-line center role after versatile forward Tomas Hertl stayed on the wing.  

With Tierney back in the fold, the Sharks now have just under $4.4 million in salary cap space, according to CapFriendly. That’s for a roster carrying 14 forwards, seven defenseman, and two goaltenders, and San Jose’s actual cap space may change depending on the outcome of various positional battles in training camp. 

This summer, Tierney became the fourth Sharks player since 2008 to file for arbitration. In every case, including with Tierney on Wednesday, a settlement was reached prior to a hearing. 

The Sharks also signed a pair of prospects to entry-level contracts on Wednesday. Defenseman Ryan Merkley, San Jose’s first-round pick this June, and 21-year-old forward Alexander True, who scored 28 points in 68 games with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda last season, both inked deals with the organization.

Martin Jones' new goalie mask will have Sharks fans seeing double

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USATSI

Martin Jones' new goalie mask will have Sharks fans seeing double

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones won't just enter the season with a different paycheck, the result of entering the first year of a five-year, $34.5 million contract extension that he signed last July. He'll also have a new mask.

Toronto-based artist Steve Nash unveiled a look at Jones' mask design for the upcoming season Monday morning on Twitter. The design again features San Jose's secondary logo but with some subtle differences.

Eagle-eyed mask afficionados will notice a couple of tweaks. First, there now are two sharks on the side, compared to only one last season. Those sharks boast orange eyes seen on the back of his mask last season

For comparison, here's a look at Jones' mask from last year.

The 28-year-old netminder is entering his fourth season in San Jose's crease. Jones posted a .915 save percentage in 60 regular-season starts and followed that with a .928 in 10 postseason starts as the Sharks advanced to the second round. 

We'll get our best look at Jones' new mask in action when training camp opens in mid-September, and, assuming he plays, in a game as soon as the Sept. 18 preseason opener against the Ducks.