Recapping the past few weeks of the Sharks offseason


Recapping the past few weeks of the Sharks offseason

Hockey fans in the Bay Area know by now that Joe Thornton is returning to the San Jose Sharks and Patrick Marleau is not. That was the headline news coming out of free agency shortly after the calendar flipped to July.

Of course, the dog days of the NHL offseason kick in after that, without much news between 4th of July weekend and the start of training camp in September. General managers, front office staffs and, most importantly, hockey writers all squeeze in some significant vacation time during that period.

Still, there are always items of interest that pop up from time to time, so let’s briefly recap the notable announcements the Sharks have made over that span and what they mean.

July 3: Sharks name Rob Zettler assistant coach

What it means: The Sharks were in need of a replacement for Bob Boughner, who left Pete DeBoer’s staff to join the Florida Panthers as their new head coach. Zettler, a former Sharks defenseman as well as an assistant coach under Ron Wilson, will oversee the defense and penalty kill, as Boughner did.

Zettler, of course, will work with Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns. Burns and Boughner had a special relationship, and Boughner told me at the NHL draft in Chicago how thrilled he was for Burns taking home the award as the league's top defenseman. Coaching Burns can be no easy task at times, so Zettler will likely have his hands full right away.

July 4: Sharks sign Brandon Bollig

What it means: From the NHL team’s perspective, probably not much, as Bollig is not expected to make the Sharks roster. Instead, he’ll bring some muscle to the AHL Barracuda. 

Still, don’t be shocked if he makes a handful of appearances in the big club’s lineup. Now that Michael Haley has moved on to Florida, Bollig could be an asset in a physical or nasty regular season matchup against a division rival like Los Angeles, Anaheim or Edmonton.

July 13: Sharks re-sign Chris Tierney to one-year deal

What it means: It was odd that the Sharks, according to a source, didn’t want to negotiate with Tierney after qualifying him as a free agent. The former second round pick got just a modest raise, and will be a restricted free agent again next summer.

The message, therefore, is clear: Tierney had better come to camp in tip-top shape, and ready to prove that he is deserving of a bigger role and a multi-year contract. If he struggles from the outset, he could end up getting pushed out of the lineup by someone like Ryan Carpenter.

July 18: Sharks re-sign Marcus Sorensen to two-year deal

What it means: Sorensen is in a great position to make the opening night roster, and should have some confidence from the way he performed in the first round against Edmonton. Training camp will dictate whether that happens, but I would surmise at this point he’s penciled into the opening night lineup. 

Is Sorensen ready to take the next step, or will be go backwards like Joonas Donskoi did last season?

July 19: Sharks to host prospect showcase

What it means: For the die-hards and us beat reporters, this sounds like a pretty cool event. The Sharks will host a three-team round robin tournament with prospects from the Avalanche, Coyotes and Ducks from Sept. 9-12, at Solar4America Ice at San Jose (a.k.a. Sharks Ice).

Yes, that means we’re exactly one month away from hockey. Rosters and information on how to attend will be announced closer to the event.

July 26: Sharks name Dave Barr assistant coach

What it means: This announcement was a bit of a surprise, as the Sharks brought in another body to serve on their coaching staff in the 56-year-old Barr. A former assistant with DeBoer in New Jersey, Barr will serve as the “eye-in-the-sky” for the club. Previously it was Johan Hedberg who did that, so I imagine Hedberg will now move behind the bench.

Barr, who has spent the last nine seasons coaching in the NHL with New Jersey, Buffalo, Minnesota, Colorado and most recently Florida, could also bring a different perspective to the power play. The Sharks finished 25th in the league on the power play last season, a number they will surely have to improve this season.

August 7 – Sharks re-sign Barclay Goodrow to two-year deal

What it means: Goodrow is a nice piece to keep in the system, as he’s a big body that has some skill. Whether his game can translate to the NHL full-time remains to be seen, but Goodrow nearly made the team out of camp last season before having a strong year with the Barracuda. 

Although he’s probably behind guys like Sorensen, Carpenter and Timo Meier on the depth chart, Goodrow will be a player to watch in training camp. He could push for a spot on the fourth line.

Sharks set to face new-look Sabres who made plenty of roster changes


Sharks set to face new-look Sabres who made plenty of roster changes

When it comes to playing teams in the Pacific Division, the San Jose Sharks of course know their opposition very well. When it comes to those teams over the on eastern seaboard, however, there's a little less familiarity. 

Such is the case for their tilt Thursday night, as they take on the Sabres of the Atlantic Division. And given Buffalo has gone through a few changes since last season -- including the addition of No. 1 overall draft pick Rasmus Dahlin -- this team will be even more different than the one the Sharks last played during the 2017 season.

"I probably only know half the team," Evander Kane, who played in Buffalo before being acquired by San Jose last season, told the media Thursday morning. "There's been a lot of turnover, through and since I was in Buffalo."

The Sharks newest arrival, Erik Karlsson, had something very similar to say. Although the defenseman played against the Sabres plenty of times while with the Ottawa Senators, this isn't the same team he faced in season's past.

"They're going through a little bit of a transition period," Karlsson said. "Played them a lot over the course of the years. But it's a totally different team now. Not what it used to be."

Rookie defenseman Dahlin, who scored his first NHL goal against the Arizona Coyotes last week, isn't the only new addition to the evolving Sabres squad. Forward Conor Sheary was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins during the off-season. He's currently ranked second on the team with four points in six games -- behind captain Jack Eichel's five points -- and currently leads the team with three goals on the power play. 

Even with the changes to the roster, Kane told the media he expects the Sabres to come in and play a fast-paced game.

The Sharks and Sabres face off at 7:30 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning at 7 on NBC Sports California.

Sharks notes: Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl practice ahead of Sabres game


Sharks notes: Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl practice ahead of Sabres game

Logan Couture returned to Sharks' practice Wednesday as Team Teal gears up to host the Buffalo Sabres Thursday at SAP Center. The 29-year-old center collided with teammate Rourke Chartier in practice on Tuesday, but didn't look any worse for wear as he participated in full practice Wednesday. 

But he wasn't the only Shark to return to action at morning skate. Here are a few tidbits from practice.

-Couture's linemate Tomas Hertl, who was reportedly absent from Tuesday's skate taking a maintanence day, returned to practice. He left after half an hour, but coach Peter DeBoer told the media afterwards he expects the 24-year-old forward to be ready to go for Thursday's game.

Kevin Labanc, who also took a maintenance day Tuesday, was not present at the following practice. DeBoer told the media the winger is fighting off a virus, and that he expects Labanc to be in th lineup against Buffalo as well. 

-Team Teal spent a fair amount of time working on their power play during Wednesday's skate, no doubt looking to turn things around after going 2-for-21 on the man advantage in their first six games. But they aren't the only team at the Tank on Thursday evening who've experienced a power outage.

The Sabres experienced their own woes on the man advantage in their Tuesday evening 4-1 loss to the Las Vegas Golden Knights. In that bout, Buffalo went 0-for-6 on the power play and gave up a short-handed goal to Cody Eakin in the second stanza. This could potentially be good news for the Sharks, who have been more successful on the penalty kill through the six games they've played so far this season. 

It will be imperative for the Sharks to not get into penalty trouble like they did against the New Jersey Devils and go to the box eight times. Conor Sheary and Jack Eichel make Buffalo's top power play unit primed to find the back of the net.