Rumored Rick Nash interest risky for Sharks


Rumored Rick Nash interest risky for Sharks

In case it was not yet clear, Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Avalanche reiterated a fundamental fact about the Sharks: Scoring is an issue.

They won’t face Jonathan Bernier every game, but they’re not going to score five goals per game, either, as they did 13 days ago against the Rangers. San Jose scored 10 goals on its five-game road trip sans Joe Thornton, and only six in five-on-five situations.

That’s 1.43 goals per 60 minutes of five-on-five play, according to Natural Stat Trick, and only bumps up to 1.98 goals per 60 if you include San Jose’s last game before the All-Star break. Even with Thornton, the Sharks only scored 2.11 goals per 60 minutes of five-on-five play, the league's 26th-best rate.

With the trade deadline less than three weeks away, the Sharks have unsurprisingly been linked to scoring forwards, including with the aforementioned Rangers. The New York Post first listed San Jose as a possible destination for winger Rick Nash when they reported last month that New York would look to trade its pending free agents.

Others have backed up that reporting, and on some level, the reported interest makes sense. The Sharks were rumored to have interest in Nash six years ago when he was first traded to the Rangers, and he played with Thornton in Switzerland during the last two lockouts.

Most importantly, he can put the puck in the net. Since joining the Rangers in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, Nash is tied for 18th in the NHL in goals (142), and his 15 goals this season would place him second on the Sharks.

In other ways, the links don’t make a whole lot of sense for San Jose, given New York’s reported asking price. According to TSN, the Rangers are asking for a first-round pick, a top prospect, and another prospect or pick.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that New York would likely accept a package of a first round pick and a prospect, or a first and second round pick. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has said publicly he’s not willing to trade “key young core players” for a rental.

Nash appears to be one. He’s not only a 33-year-old pending unrestricted free agent who was publicly disappointed about the possibility of leaving New York, but would “surprise no one” if he re-signed with the Rangers after a playoff run elsewhere, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Plus, San Jose doesn’t have a second or third round pick in this upcoming draft. The Sharks do have those picks in 2019, but trading a first means they wouldn’t pick until the fourth round in June, a major risk for a team that is already the league’s fourth-oldest, even as all of its top prospects are in the NHL.

Taken altogether, New York’s rumored Rick Nash asking price seems a bit rich for San Jose. The Rangers may ultimately end up asking for less, but the Sharks should steer clear if they don’t.

Sharks avoid arbitration, re-sign Chris Tierney to two-year deal


Sharks avoid arbitration, re-sign Chris Tierney to two-year deal

Just two days before one was scheduled, the Sharks avoided an arbitration hearing with center Chris Tierney, and re-signed the restricted free agent to a two-year deal on Wednesday, the team announced. The deal is reportedly worth just shy of $2.94 million annually, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman

"Chris had his best season as a professional last year and stepped up his level of play in multiple areas," San Jose general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "We've always known he was a responsible, defensive-minded player, but he took his offensive game to the next tier and showed that he can be a productive player in all three zones. We look forward to watching him continue his evolution in 2018-19." 

Last season, the 24-year-old Tierney set career-highs in goals (17), assists (23), points (40), shots on goal (118), and ice time (16:00). Tierney also generated expected goals at the highest rate of his career (0.62 per hour), according to Corsica Hockey. 

A 2012 second-round pick, Tierney entered last season in an uncertain place. He signed his one-year, $735,000 qualifying offer last summer, and head coach Peter DeBoer challenged him to improve. 

“I came into the year wanting to prove a point. I believe in myself. I think I’m a good hockey player,” Tierney told the San Jose Mercury News in December. “I wanted to come in and show people that I could play an offensive role on the team.”  

DeBoer used Tierney slightly differently this season, as the forward started a career-high percentage of five-on-five shifts in the offensive zone (31.12 percent) and a career-low percentage of defensive zone starts (29.68 percent), per Corsica Hockey. Tierney responded in kind with his aforementioned career-best offensive numbers, and seized the third-line center role after versatile forward Tomas Hertl stayed on the wing.  

With Tierney back in the fold, the Sharks now have just under $4.4 million in salary cap space, according to CapFriendly. That’s for a roster carrying 14 forwards, seven defenseman, and two goaltenders, and San Jose’s actual cap space may change depending on the outcome of various positional battles in training camp. 

This summer, Tierney became the fourth Sharks player since 2008 to file for arbitration. In every case, including with Tierney on Wednesday, a settlement was reached prior to a hearing. 

The Sharks also signed a pair of prospects to entry-level contracts on Wednesday. Defenseman Ryan Merkley, San Jose’s first-round pick this June, and 21-year-old forward Alexander True, who scored 28 points in 68 games with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda last season, both inked deals with the organization.

Martin Jones' new goalie mask will have Sharks fans seeing double


Martin Jones' new goalie mask will have Sharks fans seeing double

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones won't just enter the season with a different paycheck, the result of entering the first year of a five-year, $34.5 million contract extension that he signed last July. He'll also have a new mask.

Toronto-based artist Steve Nash unveiled a look at Jones' mask design for the upcoming season Monday morning on Twitter. The design again features San Jose's secondary logo but with some subtle differences.

Eagle-eyed mask afficionados will notice a couple of tweaks. First, there now are two sharks on the side, compared to only one last season. Those sharks boast orange eyes seen on the back of his mask last season

For comparison, here's a look at Jones' mask from last year.

The 28-year-old netminder is entering his fourth season in San Jose's crease. Jones posted a .915 save percentage in 60 regular-season starts and followed that with a .928 in 10 postseason starts as the Sharks advanced to the second round. 

We'll get our best look at Jones' new mask in action when training camp opens in mid-September, and, assuming he plays, in a game as soon as the Sept. 18 preseason opener against the Ducks.