Sharks

NASCAR driver Michael Annett following Joe Pavelski, Sharks in NHL playoffs

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AP/USATSI

NASCAR driver Michael Annett following Joe Pavelski, Sharks in NHL playoffs

Joe Pavelski has a fan in NASCAR driver Michael Annett.

Annett, who picked up his first career Xfinity Series win at Daytona in February, played with the Sharks captain in 2003-04. The two were members of the USHL's Waterloo Black Hawks that season, and won a Clark Cup -- the league championship -- together. 

“You get those 30 guys from all over the country that you can find to play for one team for a season, you all grow really close like brothers,” Annett told NBC Sports' NASCAR Talk. “I’m just really proud of him. I know what it takes, I know how many hot, little kids are hockey players and that’s what they dream of doing. To see him still doing it at the level he is as the captain of a team that’s made the playoffs (in all but one of Pavelski’s 13 seasons), just really proud of him.”

Pavelski led Waterloo in goals (21), was second in points (52) that season, and the team entered the postseason as the lowest seed in the East Division. The Black Hawks upset two higher-seeded teams en route to the Clark Cup, and Pavelski earned a reputation as a playoff performer with 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 12 games. 

Annett follows his old teammate's exploits in the NHL, but it's not a one-way street. He said Pavelski reached out to him after his first Xfinity win in February, and the two still talk occasionally. 

“It’s all through Instagram messages,” Annett said. “When somebody does something pretty cool you reach out and tell him that ‘That was pretty awesome, I’m still following you.'”

[RELATED: Sharks need everyone to step up in Game 4]

Annett told NASCAR Talk he has followed the Sharks' run in the Stanley Cup playoffs so far, noting that the team has "got to get their act together if they're going to beat the [Vegas Golden Knights]" in the first round. San Jose trails 2-1 in the series, and Pavelski has two points through three games. 

Pavelski will have to be a big part of the Sharks' potential comeback, and his old teammate will be pulling for him. 

Sharks to host top prospects, four 2019 draft picks at development camp

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USATSI

Sharks to host top prospects, four 2019 draft picks at development camp

Four of the Sharks' picks from the 2019 NHL Draft will attend the team's development camp in San Jose this week. 

Second-round picks Artemi Kniazev and Dillon Hamliuk as well as fourth-round pick Yegor Spiridonov and sixth-rounder Santeri Hatakka will particpate, as will top Sharks prospects including Ryan Merkley (2018 first-round pick), Mario Ferraro (2017 second-round pick) and Sasha Chmelevski (2017 sixth-round pick). In all, 46 players are scheduled to attend when camp gets underway Tuesday, and the prospects will scrimmage twice in camp. 

The first scrimmage takes place Wednesday, and the prospects will scrimmage again Friday night at SAP Center. Tickets cost $10 (or $20 for four), with "net proceeds benefitting the Sharks foundation," the team said in a release. 

[RELATED: How will Sharks' salary-cap crunch affect Meier?]

The full list of players can be found here. 

Sharks free-agency decisions: Will star winger Timo Meier stay or go?

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AP

Sharks free-agency decisions: Will star winger Timo Meier stay or go?

One could argue the 2018-19 season was when Sharks winger Timo Meier "arrived."

The 22-year-old honed his skills as a power forward this past campaign, cementing himself as a staple in the Sharks lineup. His 30-goal regular season was tied with Evander Kane for third-best on the team, and his 15 points in the Stanley Cup playoffs tied for third-best with Tomas Hertl.

Now, Meier is primed to headline a stacked restricted free-agent class generating plenty of buzz this offseason. He also is one of a handful of young Sharks who can become an RFA this summer 

Here's a look at why Meier could stay in San Jose for a long time -- and why he potentially could be on the move.

Why he could stay

There's no secret here. Signing Meier is one of the Sharks' top priorities this offseason. 

Mix Meier's upward in-season progress with the amount of responsibility he has already taken on as a young player, and you have a player any team would want on their roster. The Swiss product has also demonstrated a strong work ethic and drive to continue building his game, as he said on locker-room cleanout day at the end of May that he still has room to improve. 

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said that same day that he had already had a few discussions with Meier's agent. Although the nature of those talks have remained private, Wilson did reference that many of the team's young stars in the past have been signed to bridge deals, which carry a smaller salary-cap hit over a shorter term as a "bridge" to a bigger contract down the line. Tomas Hertl, for instance signed a two-year, $6 million contract as an RFA in 2016 before signing a five-year, $22.5 million contract last summer. 

With that knowledge in mind, the Sharks likely want to reach a similar deal with Meier before the end of the summer.

Why he could go

Before everyone starts freaking out too much -- yes, it's likely that Meier and the Sharks will reach a deal. But San Jose's lack of cap space makes things a little more complicated, and the possibility of an offer sheet can't be ignored. 

A player of Meier's caliber will demand a healthy payday, and the Sharks have just under $14.5 million in salary-cap space according to CapFriendly. If San Jose can't move more pieces around and get some relief under the cap, signing Meier to a second contract that isn't a bridge deal will be difficult.

The Sharks undoubtedly want to avoid what the Toronto Maple Leafs experienced with William Nylander last season. The young forward didn't re-sign until Dec. 1, and struggled to find his goal-scoring touch in 54 regular-season games. 

With conversations underway, there's hope that nothing close to the Nylander situation will take place. An offer sheet doesn't seem realistic either, considering a player has not signed one since 2013. 

[RELATED: Donskoi reportedly receiving 'strong interest' in free agency]

The verdict

The Sharks are going to get a deal done with Meier. Given San Jose's history of signing young players, there's every reason to believe the two sides will find common ground before training camp begins in September.

That, however, could require the Sharks clearing additional salary-cap space to make an offer Meier will accept. It might take a little time and debate before both sides are happy.

By the end of the offseason, however, conversations surrounding Meier should go back to what he can do for the Sharks in the upcoming season rather than his contract.