Sharks

Report: Potential Sharks trade target dealing with injury

Report: Potential Sharks trade target dealing with injury

One potential trade target for the Sharks may not be healthy enough to be a consideration.

According to a report, Dallas forward Patrick Sharp has been dealing with a nagging injury that may prevent the pending unrestricted free agent from getting moved before Wednesday’s noon deadline.

Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman tweeted on Tuesday that it’s possible Sharp “won’t be traded as a result” of the injury. A three-time Stanley Cup winner with Chicago, Sharp has 15 points (7g, 8a) in 36 games with Dallas this season. He also missed time earlier in the year with a concussion.

Sharp will reportedly meet Dallas team doctors later on Tuesday night after the Stars’ home game against Pittsburgh. 

The Sharks are thought to be in the market for a scoring winger, and potentially someone that could slot on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. San Jose has used seven different wingers in that position since the start of the season, including Patrick Marleau (25 games), Tomas Hertl (13 games), Kevin Labanc (6 games), Mikkel Boedker (5 games), Timo Meier (4 games), Joel Ward (4 games) and Melker Karlsson (4 games). 

According to a source, Sharp is a player that Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has liked “for a long time.”

Sharks' roster projection one week before 2018-19 NHL season begins

Sharks' roster projection one week before 2018-19 NHL season begins

A week from now, the Sharks will host the Anaheim Ducks at SAP Center, icing a roster that’s a bit different than the one that swept the Ducks in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs five months ago.

Joe Thornton’s healthy after his second knee surgery in as many years. Defenseman Joakim Ryan is a lock for a top-six spot after sitting out every playoff game against Anaheim.  

Oh, and somebody named Erik Karlsson will suit up, too.

In all, five players that didn’t see the ice in the series clincher could play for San Jose on Oct. 3. What will the Sharks look like on opening night? Here’s our best guess a week ahead of the season opener.

Goaltenders

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Analysis: This doesn’t require much explanation.

Jones enters the first of a six-year, $34.5 million contract extension, and started more games in the last three seasons with San Jose (190) than every goalie in the NHL other than Cam Talbot (193).  Dell, meanwhile, signed a two-year, $3.8 million extension of his own in February, leaving the 29-year-old firmly entrenched as Jones’ backup.

Defensemen

Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Erik Karlsson

Joakim Ryan-Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon-Justin Braun

Radim Simek-Tim Heed

Analysis: This top six is identical to the one we envisioned in the aftermath of the Karlsson trade, and all signs point to these pairings on opening night. Karlsson’s primarily skated with Marc-Edouard Vlasic since arriving in camp a week ago, and the other two pairings played together in Saturday’s preseason game against the Vegas Golden Knights -- the only preseason game so far where a majority of the top six defensemen suited up.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer has said at camp that the team feels they have eight, NHL defensemen. This projection reflects that belief, as well as the roster-building reality: Radim Simek and Tim Heed would need to be waived in order to get sent down to the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda. Their contracts -- Simek makes $675,000 against the salary cap and Heed $650,000 -- would be easy to digest for a team scouring the waiver wire, and the Sharks wouldn’t get any assets in return.

Forwards

Evander Kane-Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski

Tomas Hertl-Logan Couture-Timo Meier

Joonas Donskoi-Antti Suomela-Kevin Labanc

Marcus Sorensen-Barclay Goodrow-Melker Karlsson

Rourke Chartier

Analysis: If you’re wondering what purpose the preseason serves, consider the following: The Sharks’ top two lines have already played more, five-on-five minutes together this preseason (14:39 for the first, 10:49 for the second) than the entirety of the previous regular season. That’s a natural byproduct of having Evander Kane and Joe Thornton in the lineup at the same time, but Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture, and Timo Meier played all of 75 seconds together last season. Building chemistry is arguably most important for possible third-line center Antti Suomela, as the Finnish rookie looks to adjust to the North American game.

There’s also the possibility players can win jobs. DeBoer’s said that the full body of work matters most, but strong preseason performances can open eyes. Center Rourke Chartier seems to have done that, as he’s scored five points in four preseason games. That mark is second only to Barclay Goodrow, whose solid play as a fourth-line center last season strengthens his case to start the season in that spot.

Chartier’s emergence leaves rookie forward Dylan Gambrell as the odd man out in this projection. It may not be an open-and-shut case, as Gambrell’s been a better possession player than Chartier so far, but Gambrell’s not been as productive offensively and he carries a higher cap hit. He’s waivers exempt, unlike Heed and Simek, so the Sharks can send him to the Barracuda to start the year and not worry about losing him.

Joonas Donskoi lends helping hand to Sharks rookie Antti Suomela

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USATSI

Joonas Donskoi lends helping hand to Sharks rookie Antti Suomela

SAN JOSE -- When Sharks winger Joonas Donskoi first tried to make the team in 2015, he didn’t know it would be so hard to get a cell phone. 

“I was trying to get a phone plan, and they said I had no history in the [United States], so I had to pay a deposit for pretty much anything I do,” Donskoi recalled Tuesday at the Sharks practice facility. 

To that point, the forward had only played professionally in his home country of Finland. But after spending parts of six years playing for Karpat in Liiga, the country's top league, Donskoi signed with San Jose in May 2015, with the hopes of cracking the NHL. He made the team out of camp, and hasn’t spent a minute in the minors, despite initially struggling learning a new language and acclimating to a new country.

Still, Donskoi said, having a familiar face would’ve helped. 

“Oh for sure. I had my biggest problems maybe off the ice, and my language was not that perfect,” Donskoi said. “A lot of things were new for me, and it was really hard at the beginning.” 

Now, Donskoi has an opportunity to pass on what he learned. Fellow Finnish forward Antti Suomela is trying to make the same transition Donskoi made three years ago, and make the Sharks’ opening night roster in his first NHL training camp. 

Suomela, a center, signed a one-year, entry-level deal with San Jose on June 6. He led SM-liiga in scoring last season with 60 points (21 goals, 39 assists), and won a European Champions Hockey League title with JYP. 

The 24-year-old likely would have competed for the team’s fourth-line center spot, but center Chris Tierney’s inclusion in the Erik Karlsson trade created an opening down the middle of the team’s third line as well. That’s where Suomela has spent much of camp, skating with Kevin Labanc on one wing, and Donskoi on the other in most practices, as well as two preseason games. 

Donskoi didn’t meet Suomela before he signed with San Jose, but spoke with him when he was thinking about joining the Sharks. Since Suomela’s been in camp, Donskoi’s tried to help his adjustment on the ice and off of it. The rookie is still learning the language, but Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said Donskoi’s helped bridge any gaps.

“It’s nice that Joonas is there to kind of interpret for him when he doesn’t understand what’s going on,” DeBoer said, “but to also help him on the ice. I think when you have a familiar guy that plays the same way you do, it makes the transition easier.” 

Suomela’s played in all three of San Jose’s preseason games, but did not travel with the team Tuesday for their game in Calgary against the Flames. He scored three points in his second game, but did not have a shot on goal in his third on Saturday. 

The rookie found nice chemistry with Labanc and Donskoi in the first two games, as the Sharks attempted two-thirds of the five-on-five shots -- and nearly 78 percent of the scoring chances -- with the trio on the ice, according to Natural Stat Trick. Without Labanc and Donskoi on Saturday, San Jose was out-attempted 9-6 and out-chanced 3-1. 

“I think he’s done a good job,” DeBoer said. “I thought his first game, he was feeling things out. I thought the second game was fantastic. I thought the third game was okay. He’ll get another game here, and it’s gonna be an important one.”

Thursday figures to be the closest approximation to the Sharks’ opening night lineup. DeBoer said the plan is for Karlsson to play against the Flames that night at SAP Center for his first  game of the preseason, barring some last-minute looks at other players competing for spots. Where Suomela is penciled in, and his performance thereafter, should provide insight into his bid to stay in the NHL after camp. 

In the meantime, Donskoi will continue to help his countryman acclimate to life in San Jose. So far, he's made sure to keep his linemate in his sights outside of practice, too.

“I’ve just been going with him everywhere he goes,” Donskoi said with a laugh. “His English is probably not the best yet, so I’m just trying to help him as much as I can.” 

Everywhere, one imagines, will surely include a trip to buy a cell phone.