Couture, Thornton among Sharks headed overseas


Couture, Thornton among Sharks headed overseas

Some San Jose Sharks and many NHLers arent wasting any time in looking for places to play overseas.

While the NHL remains locked out, reports have surfaced that forward Logan Couture is close to signing a contract to play with Geneva in the Swiss league, according to NHL Home Ices Josh Rimer, and captain Joe Thornton will return to HC Davos to play with the club with which he spent the lockout year of 2004-05 (per ESPN's Pierre LeBrun).

Meanwhile, defenseman Jason Demers is reportedly on his way to Finland, while forward Michal Handzus heads to Slovakia according to

CSN California's Brodie Brazil confirmed this morning that Demers will indeed be leaving the Bay Area tomorrow to play for the Finnish team Oulun Karpat.

Its not a surprise that Couture, who tied for the team lead in goals last season with 31 and was the Sharks only All-Star, is on the move.

Last Thursday, Couture told he was already considering going to Europe. Yeah, I think so, if the lockout is a long time. Everyone wants to play. Wed have to look at other options if it goes for awhile, he said.

Thornton, too, said that he would consider a return to Switzerland, where he maintains a residence.

"If I wanted to go back, Im sure theyd take me back with open arms, he said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, several notable names around the league are also booking fights abroad. Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk are on their way to the KHL in Russia, as are Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar, while Jaromir Jagr and Tomas Plekanec will play in the Czech Republic.

Expect that list to grow much, much longer as the NHL and NHLPA remain far apart in collective bargaining negotiations, although the two sides may meet again as soon as Tuesday.

The Sharks assigned 16 players to Worcester earlier on Monday, but dont have the option of sending their younger, established NHL players there as everyone expected to skate for the 2012-13 team is on a one-way contract.

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


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


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.