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.