Rewind: Sharks may be 'for real' after win over Ducks


Rewind: Sharks may be 'for real' after win over Ducks

SAN JOSE – The Anaheim Ducks are a popular pick to win the Stanley Cup this season, and their forward depth may be the primary reason. Along with offensive forces like Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler, the Ducks added the skilled Carl Hagelin to their top six while Mike Santorelli and Shawn Horcoff help fill out the bottom two lines.

The new attitude Sharks weren’t overmatched in their home opener on Saturday, though, and continued to roll four lines for the duration. Anaheim had a territorial edge for the first half of the first period, but San Jose never changed its strategy.

It paid off.

After an evenly played first 40 minutes, Patrick Marleau broke through late in the second period and added an insurance marker in the third, for a 2-0 win that gave them their second win in as many tries. Martin Jones made 24 saves in his first shutout in teal.

[RECAP: Instant Replay: Marleau's two goals lead Sharks past Ducks]

“I think both games we’ve had four lines going,” said newcomer Joel Ward, who assisted on both of linemate Marleau’s markers. “There are a lot of guys just buzzing and working hard for each other. It’s good to see everyone rolling and playing.”

Leading 1-0 at the second intermission thanks to Marleau’s rebound goal, the Sharks’ third period was their best. They outshot Anaheim 17-3, including Marleau’s second goal, reaping the rewards for using the entire bench.

At one point midway through the final frame the third and fourth lines applied pressure in the Ducks’ zone for several minutes, and although the end result wasn’t a goal it was evident that the Sharks were the team that had the better skating legs.

Marleau’s one-man effort put the game away when he took advantage of Simon Despres and Cam Fowler appearing a little flat-footed on a wraparound with just 4:50 left in regulation. It was the kind of goal that happens when an opposing team is worn out.

“I thought we got better as the game went on, especially in the third period there in a 1-0 game,” said Jones, who made 24 of his 27 saves in the first 40 minutes. “We showed a lot of character with how well we played and playing in their end for most of the third period. I thought it was a really good effort tonight."

[RELATED: Shot of the Game: Sharks take lead on Marleau's first goal]

Marleau’s performance was encouraging, especially after he failed to reach the 20-goal plateau last season. The franchise’s all-time leading scorer was around the puck all night, and pumped a game-high seven shots on goal.

“It's nice to get a couple early,” he said. “Something to build off of.”

DeBoer said: “He’s in great shape. I think last year was a bit of an aberration. He’s come out, with a lot of other guys, to prove that.”

Marleau’s second goal is evidence that he’s still fine physically. After a long shift in the defensive zone and on a potential two-on-one with Ward, he kept his legs moving and was rewarded for it.

Ward headed toward the bench to avoid being caught deep with no legs to get back, but Marleau trucked on ahead.

“I came back to the bench, I knew we were in their zone a little bit and I tried to play it safe,” Ward said. “Next thing you know, our hands are up in the air and I was looking for water.”

The Sharks couldn’t have drawn up a better way to start their redemptive season, with wins over their two biggest rivals and teams that they figure to be battling with all season in the Pacific Division. On Saturday morning, DeBoer called the upcoming game with the Ducks a “statement” game.

What kind of statement was made?

“I think a statement was made that the Sharks are back and we’re for real this year,” he said. “We’re only two games in, but we played two tough teams. … I think the guys are feeling good about what we’re doing.”

Joe Pavelski said: “A step in the right direction, I think. … Just keep building.”

Sharks' Tomas Hertl, wife Aneta expecting first child due in November

Sharks' Tomas Hertl, wife Aneta expecting first child due in November

I think we’re all due for some good news. So is Sharks’ All-Star center Tomas Hertl and his wife Aneta.

Aneta announced on her Instagram account the two are expecting a baby in November.

The first photo is the two of them posing together with the sonogram picture. The second is of a baby onesie with “Born in 2020” embroidered on it.

This is fresh off the couple's one-year wedding anniversary which, rumor has it, the big day was quite a fun time.

Back in May, Hertl spoke to the media about his rehab after tearing the ACL and MCL in his right knee where he vowed he would be better than he was before. But he’ll have to wait.

[RELATED: Ranking Sharks top playoff moments in overtime]

The Sharks will not be participating in the NHL’s a modified 24-team return-to-play format.

That’s OK though, he has something even better to look forward to … a baby Shark. 

NHL expansion draft: Who Sharks might be forced to leave unprotected

NHL expansion draft: Who Sharks might be forced to leave unprotected

We don't know when the next NHL season will begin or end, but once it does, a new team officially will join the fold.

The still-unnamed Seattle expansion franchise will become the league's 32nd team, and in the process, the Sharks will lose a player from their roster as part of the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.

Not everyone in San Jose will be up for grabs. The Sharks, along with the other 30 current NHL teams, will be permitted to protect a group of their players from the expansion draft according to one of two options. Either a) protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or b) protect eight skaters and one goalie.

So, where does that leave the Sharks? 

By narrowing down who San Jose is likely to protect, we can zero in on which players are likely to be exposed.

Automatically protected: Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (no-movement clauses)
Certain to be protected: Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier
Very likely to be protected: Evander Kane

That's six pretty-darn-sure things already, plus an unnamed goalie. So, under this assumption, the Sharks would only be able to protect three more forwards and one additional defenseman under Option A, or just two more skaters under Option B.

Though nearly all of San Jose's top prospects will be automatically exempt due to lack of service time, Jonathan Dahlen -- generally regarded as the Sharks' second-best prospect -- will be eligible for inclusion due to his playing AHL games in 2017-18. So, chances are, they'll protect him as well.

Regardless of which option San Jose goes with, that doesn't leave them many more choices. As such, here are some of the more notable names that the Sharks might be forced to make available to Seattle in the expansion draft:

Brent Burns

What the Sharks decide to do with Burns likely will depend on the trajectory of the team heading into the 2021 offseason. If San Jose successfully turns things around in short order, then keeping the 36-year-old Burns -- who has another four years left on his contract at $8 million per season -- will make a lot more sense than if an extended rebuild appears to be on the horizon.

The Sharks have several large salaries on their books, and making Burns available would be one possible way to alleviate some of that building pressure. Of course, if Burns has a Norris-type season next year, San Jose likely will do everything it can to keep him. More than anything, Burns' performance next season likely will have the most determining effect on who the Sharks make available.

[RELATED: Why Sharks shouldn't be counted out if Eichel seeks trade]

Martin Jones

Assuming he's still on the roster and doesn't have a major bounce-back season, Jones would seem to be one of the more likely inclusions on San Jose's unprotected list. He carries a hefty price tag and hasn't lived up to it for the last couple of years.

Of course, the Sharks don't really have anything in the way of an established goalie behind him -- Aaron Dell is an unrestricted free agent -- so if one doesn't emerge, they might be forced to protect him. If San Jose makes Jones available, that likely means one of the Sharks' goaltending prospects made a significant leap or a free agent outperformed him in the year ahead.

Kevin Labanc

He brings plenty of talent to the table and has been useful on the power play. But Labanc's problem is consistency. On some nights, he's one of the best players on the ice. Others, you hardly notice him. He bet on himself last offseason, but it didn't appear to pay off.

A restricted free agent, San Jose should be able to re-sign him at an affordable price. He still is only 24 years old, though. Should Labanc take a couple steps forward next season, it likely will come at a discount, which the Sharks would likely want to protect. If he's ultimately made available, he could offer the combination of youth and talent that would pique Seattle's interest.

Stefan Noesen

Acquired early in the season, Noesen, 27, made a strong impression during his first year in San Jose. He provided the occasional offense, scoring six goals in 34 games, as well as some sorely-needed toughness. He also immediately became a leader in the locker room.

Noesen currently is an unrestricted free agent, but it would be surprising if he didn't start next season in a Sharks sweater, and he shouldn't be too costly either. If he can build off this past season's performance, one would imagine San Jose would prefer to keep him around. Who else the Sharks protect likely will determine if he can be protected or not.

Dylan Gambrell/Antti Suomela/Alex True

Gambrell has accomplished the most of the three, but he's running short on time. A restricted free agent at the end of next season, he'll be eligible for inclusion in the expansion draft if he plays in at least 20 games. Unless he breaks out, Gambrell seems likely to be one of the names the Sharks leave unprotected.

You could say the same thing about Suomela -- assuming the restricted free agent is re-signed -- who has notched four goals and 11 assists over 47 NHL games across the last two seasons. He's still only 26, but has yet to live up to his potential. True, on the other hand, is younger (22 years old) and was fairly noticeable over the course of his NHL debut this season. He should have a good opportunity to begin the season with San Jose, and would seem to be the most likely of the three to carve out a long-term role with the big club.