Joe Thornton returns to Sharks practice; Kevin Labanc, Tomas Hertl sit out


Joe Thornton returns to Sharks practice; Kevin Labanc, Tomas Hertl sit out

SAN JOSE -- For the first time since experiencing swelling in his surgically repaired right knee, Sharks center Joe Thornton returned to practice with the team on Tuesday.

The 39-year-old called himself "day-to-day," as he continues to take antibiotics for an infection, the cause of swelling in his knee. He told reporters he is awaiting the results of a blood test, and seeing how his knee responds after Tuesday's practice session. 

"They just want to make sure [we] get rid of if it now," Thornton said, "so that I don't have to deal with it in December, January, February ... So just squash it now, get me healthy, and then I'll be ready to go."

Thornton was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 7 after experiencing swelling in his surgically repaired right knee. The 39-year-old played 14:09 in the Sharks’ 3-2 overtime win against the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 5., but did not join the team for the rest of the trip. 

Although Thornton said he skated for around 15 minutes on Monday, Tuesday was the "first day that I kind of pushed it." He said the swelling in his right knee cleared up well beforehand, and that he "still felt strong" on the ice. 

Thornton told reporters he thought it was a possibility he could draw back into the lineup on Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer termed Thornton as "doubtful" for Thursday, and said the team is waiting for the antibiotics to clear out the infection -- however long that takes.

"I’d never count against him," DeBoer said. "Bottom line is we have to let the antibiotics do their job, and their job doesn’t happen overnight.”

Thornton remains on injured reserve, and the team recalled rookie center Dylan Gambrell from the AHL's San Jose Barracuda to take Thornton's place on the active roster.

Gambrell practiced on Tuesday, one day after picking up points -- a goal and an assist -- on each of the Barracuda's regulation tallies in a 3-2, shootout win over the Tucson Roadrunners at SAP Center. The 22-year-old originally took Thornton's place on the roster when the veteran center was initially placed on injured reserve, but did not suit up for the Sharks on the road trip. 

Thornton skated alongside Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane, his linemates in the season opener against the Anaheim Ducks two weeks ago, and through much of the preseason. Gambrell, meanwhile, was on a line with Logan Couture and Timo Meier.

Kevin Labanc skated with Pavelski and Kane in the last game of the Sharks' road trip on Sunday, while Tomas Hertl played with Couture and Meier. Labanc and Hertl missed practice on Tuesday for "nothing major," according to DeBoer, and will be back on the ice on Wednesday. 

Whether Thornton -- or Couture, who appeared hurt after a collision with Rourke Chartier near the end of practice -- is back as well, remains to be seen. As he repatedly told reporters, he is, after all, day-to-day. 

"Hopefully I wake up tomorrow [with] no swelling, and we'll go from there," Thornton said. 

NHL rumors: Sharks have made Erik Karlsson massive contract offer


NHL rumors: Sharks have made Erik Karlsson massive contract offer

The Sharks fell short in their Stanley Cup bid this season, and they now have some serious business to take care of this offseason.

It all starts with the team's pursuit in keeping star defenseman Erik Karlsson. 

The Sharks have been working toward a contract extension for Karlsson, and they reportedly now have made an offer. SportsNet's Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday that "it is believed they’ve [the Sharks] made him an offer that will challenge, if not surpass, Drew Doughty’s extension from last summer."

The L.A. Kings made Doughty the NHL's highest-paid defenseman last summer when they signed him to an eight-year, $88 million contract.

Not only did Friedman report the Sharks already have offered Karlsson, but he believes the team has a serious chance at bringing him back to San Jose for the long term.

"Conversations have intensified, and I think they’ve got a shot," Friedman wrote.

Karlsson had dinner with Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Wednesday night in Santa Clara, The Athletic's Kevin Kurz reported. A Facebook user in a Sharks fan group posted a picture with Karlsson and Wilson from the restaurant, and it later surfaced on the Sharks' fan-run subreddit.

The Sharks acquired Karlsson in a blockbuster trade with the Senators on the eve of training camp. He played 53 games in his first year as a Shark and scored 45 points -- three goals and 42 assists.

Karlsson battled injuries all season long, and he clearly was hobbled in the playoffs before missing the Sharks' season-ending loss in Game 6 of the Western Conference final to the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. He aggravated his injured groin in Game 4, and played just 10:32 in Game 5.

[RELATED: Inconsistent defense faces uncertain future for Sharks]

While Karlsson’s first go in San Jose didn't go as planned, the Sharks clearly want him to stay in the Bay.

Sharks organizational review: Goalie situation depends on Martin Jones


Sharks organizational review: Goalie situation depends on Martin Jones

SAN JOSE -- There may not have been a Sharks' player who caught more flak from fans this past season than Martin Jones, as the starting goalie battled with consistency this season. Criticism of San Jose's goaltending continued as Jones' backup, Aaron Dell, didn't fare much better overall throughout the regular season. 

Then came the Sharks' 20-game playoff run, where Jones did a complete 180-degree turn after the Sharks went into a 3-1 hole against the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round. As if a switch had been flipped, Jones went from being a liability to being a key to getting Team Teal to the Western Conference Final. 

The question now is which version of Martin Jones will be in net for the Sharks next season -- or how San Jose's goaltending contingent, in general, is going to look and match up to the competition in the future.

Sure, wins are what counts at the end of the day and Jones was tied for third in the league with 36 regular season victories in this last campaign. But while his record improved to 36-19-5 over the previous season's 30-22-6, his save percentage dipped from .915 to .896. He also developed a habit of giving up the first goal of the game within the first few minutes of the first period, putting the rest of the team on their heels early into games.  

Nevertheless, it's pretty unlikely Jones is going anywhere. He's entering the second season of a six-year contract extension he signed in 2017, and even before his turnaround performance in the playoffs the team around him never stopped sticking up for him. When Jones struggled, his teammates continued to put their unwavering faith in him and insisted their defensive effort in front of him was to blame. For that faith to continue, however, Jones is going to have to bring some of his strong play from the playoffs into next season.

As for Jones' backup, Dell's future seems a bit more open. Even with two shutouts on the season, No. 30's numbers also took a dip during the 2018-19 campaign and he ended the regular season with a 3.17 goals-against average and .886 save percentage. With just one year left on his current contract, San Jose could potentially use Dell as a trade piece.

[RELATED: What Sharks can learn from Stanley Cup champs]

Neither of San Jose's Barracuda goalies, Antoine Bibeau and Josef Korenar, saw any NHL time this past season. Although there's a possibility both get a look during camp ahead of next season after both posted better than .900 save percentages. Bibeau also already has two NHL games under his belt from when he was part of the Toronto Maple Leafs' organization, going 1-1-0 with a 1.99 goals-against average. 

The Sharks further added to their goaltending contingent this spring when they signed Zachary Emond to an entry-level contract. Emond, 18, won't be making any appearances at the NHL level this season, although the Sharks have expressed satisfaction with how the sixth-round pick from the 2018 draft is developing. Look for Emond to be a goalie to come up the pipeline for the Sharks, especially if he has another strong season with his junior club.