Sharks

Scott Hannan explains how midseason trade affects Brenden Dillon, Sharks

Scott Hannan explains how midseason trade affects Brenden Dillon, Sharks

Scott Hannan was in similar skates as Brenden Dillon over a decade ago. 

The NBC Sports California analyst, then with the Colorado Avalanche, waived his no-trade clause to join the Washington Capitals on Nov. 30, 2010. The pressure was on the Caps to surround their core -- led by young superstars like Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom -- with veteran talent that could get them over the hump and lift the franchise's first Stanley Cup. 

The Capitals don't necessarily face that same pressure, as Ovechkin and Co. won Washington's first Cup two years ago. But the hunger to win is still there, and the Capitals acquired Dillon, a physical defenseman much like Hannan was, in order to add to their collection of rings. Hannan's trade to Washington was his first, whereas this is the second time Dillon has been dealt. 

That doesn't make adjusting to a new home any easier. 

"It's difficult. It throws you for a loop, and then you've gotta be on the road with the team and then you've gotta come in and fit into that room," Hannan said Thursday on "Sharks Pregame Live." "It took me a while. Luckily I had the year. We finished off strong, we went into the playoffs, we did well. [I dealt with] a lot with what Dillon's going through right now."

Hannan, like Dillon, had to uproot his life midseason. He recalled needing to find a house and move his family, all as HBO's cameras rolled on the Capitals' locker room for their behind-the-scenes "24/7: Road to the Winter Classic" series ahead of the NHL's signature outdoor game. 

Dillon won't have to worry about cameras from a pay-cable network (at least until the Stanley Cup playoffs), but he quickly must adjust to new surroundings. The 29-year-old made his Capitals debut in an overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, skating alongside Norris Trophy candidate John Carlson. Dillon, Carlson and the rest of the Capitals will have 22 more games down the stretch to develop chemistry and familiarity, while the former Shark acclimates to his new reality. 

Reality will set in the Sharks' locker room, too, according to Hannan. San Jose entered Thursday 12 points back of the Western Conference's final playoff spot, and Dillon's departure will crystalize that San Jose is headed for an early offseason.

"I think when you go through these years ... is it's like things are struggling, but it doesn't really seem real," Hannan said. "I know the coach got fired this year and things like that, but sometimes as players, you're really looking [at] that next game. You always think you've got a chance, but then that moment that trade deadline rolls around and somebody on your team gets traded, it makes it real and it makes it real real quick."

[RELATED: Dillon thanks Sharks fans, San Jose after trade to Caps]

Hannan's last NHL season overlapped with Dillon's first with the Sharks in 2014-15. The former Shark called Dillon a player who, ultimately, is "tough to find and replace." The Sharks -- and their young players -- will miss Dillon's leadership, he said. 

Trades always require a lot of adjustment, but Hannan said his former teammate will be up for the challenge. 

"He's gonna go to a great team ... with a great chance to win the Cup," Hannan said. "He's gonna step right in there, and I know they're gonna get a quality player in Brenden Dillon and Washington's gonna be lucky to have him."

Programming Note: The "2020 NHL Trade Deadline Show" is coming your way this Monday, Feb. 24 at 11:30am on the MyTeams app and on NBCSportsBayArea.com! How will the Sharks be impacted heading into the Noon deadline? Don’t miss it!

NHL rumors: Brinson Pasichnuk, Sharks nearing contract agreement

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AP

NHL rumors: Brinson Pasichnuk, Sharks nearing contract agreement

The Sharks reportedly are close to adding some promising defensive depth to their organization.

San Jose is nearing agreement on a contract with Arizona State defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk, The Athletic's Kevin Kurz first reported and The Hockey News' Ken Campbell and Bay Area News Group's Curtis Pashelka later confirmed.

Pasichnuk, 22, scored 107 points (39 goals, 68 assists) in 136 games over four seasons with the Sun Devils. The 6-foot, 180-pound defenseman ranked third among blueliners with 37 points this season, tying for second in goals (11) behind only Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist David Farrance of Boston University.

Campbell reported Monday that Pasichnuk narrowed down his 20 suitors to the Sharks and Arizona Coyotes. He told The Hockey News that he knows where he is signing, but is "just waiting to see what (the NHL is doing)" for the remainder of the season during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Sharks got a glimpse at Pasichnuk last summer when he skated in the team's development camp, along with his brother, Steen. The NHL's Central Scouting Bureau ranked the younger Pasichnuk 115th out of all draft-eligible skaters in 2016, but the defenseman was not drafted.

[RELATED: Sharks' Burns says teachers are legends amid pandemic]

A standout collegiate career got him on to NHL scouts' radar, and Pasichnuk conceivably could be in line for playing time this season -- assuming the Sharks play if the season resumes -- or next. Nikolai Knyzhov and Jacob Middleton have played on San Jose's third defense pairing since Brenden Dillon was traded to the Washington Capitals last month, and Pasichnuk -- a left-shooting defenseman like those three -- could then slot in behind Radim Simek and Mario Ferraro.

Ferraro, 21, and top prospect Ryan Merkley, 19, are the Sharks' most promising young defensemen. Pasichnuk's time at Arizona State indicates he'll warrant consideration, too. 

How Sharks' wild comeback win vs. Predators epitomized 2018-19 season

How Sharks' wild comeback win vs. Predators epitomized 2018-19 season

Progamming note: Watch the re-air of the Sharks' comeback win over the Nashville Predators from Oct. 23, 2018 tonight at 8 PT on NBC Sports California.

They didn't know it at the time, but a win over the Nashville Predators on Oct. 23, 2018 ultimately laid bare the Sharks' strengths -- and weaknesses -- that would define their 2018-19 season.

The Sharks beat the Predators 5-4 that night in Nashville, overcoming a two-goal deficit with just under eight minutes remaining in the third period with a three-goal barrage in five minutes and 28 seconds. San Jose’s offense could keep up with just about any team last season, and lackluster goaltending largely necessitated said firepower.

Martin Jones stopped just 25 of the 29 shots he faced, even though the Sharks outshot the Predators in all situations (32-29) and held slight edges in 5-on-5 shot attempts, shots and scoring chances, according to Natural Stat Trick. Nashville created more high-danger chances (8-6) and expected goals (1.46-1.38) than San Jose at full strength.

Only the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning scored more goals (319) than the Sharks (289) last season, which was the most prolific in franchise history. Yet the Sharks finished with just a plus-31 goal differential, as Jones and backup goaltender Aaron Dell posted career-worst save percentages while the Sharks allowed the NHL’s 11th-most goals (258).

The Sharks ranked no worse than 12th in suppressing high-danger chances, scoring chances and expected goals at full strength, yet San Jose allowed 111 5-on-5 high-danger goals in the NHL. Only the Ottawa Senators -- defenseman Erik Karlsson’s former team -- and the Edmonton Oilers allowed more, and those teams finished an average of 22.5 points outside of the postseason.

But the Sharks had enough offensive talent to overcome their goaltending woes, finishing two wins shy of a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. San Jose was too depleted to hang with the St. Louis Blues by the end of the Western Conference final, but a healthy Sharks team would’ve had a great chance to advance. The 2018-19 Sharks were an elite puck-possession team, capable of scoring in myriad ways.

That was evident in the aforementioned comeback win over the Predators. The Sharks scored twice on the power play, twice at even strength and once short-handed. Brenden Dillon got the comeback started with an end-to-end rush on the penalty kill, then-captain Joe Pavelski finished off a 3-on-2 fewer than 30 seconds later and a pair of Norris Trophy winners -- Karlsson and Brent Burns -- combined to seal the victory.

[RELATED: Sharks' Burns says "teachers are legends" amid pandemic]

The Sharks couldn’t have known their ninth game of 2018-19 would prove so instructive, but the win over the Predators set the tone for what was to come.

For better and worse.