Sharks GM Doug Wilson explains why top prospects are still in minors

Sharks GM Doug Wilson explains why top prospects are still in minors

SAN JOSE -- There has been an overwhelming reaction to the Sharks' current group of promising prospects since training camp started back in September.

The offseason featured the organization boasting about how happy they were with the young talent coming up the pipeline. Yet at the end of training camp, the majority of those players were reassigned to the San Jose Barracuda. Since so few players have appeared with the big club since the season started, fans have been under the impression that not enough of these promising players have "stepped up."

But as Sharks' general manager Doug Wilson explained in an exclusive one-on-one with NBC Sports California, giving San Jose's crop of rookies enough time to develop at the AHL level is imperative.

"It was never a forgone conclusion that they would make the (NHL) team," Wilson said. "We look at this as a platoon system rotating people through."

New faces such as Lean Bergmann, Noah Gregor, and Jonny Brodzinski have rotated through the Sharks' lineup over the first month of the regular season as the team has dealt with injuries and suspensions. But even while filling roster spots for the NHL team, Wilson says the Sharks aren't looking to deviate from their game plan of getting the rookies plenty of work in with Roy Sommer and the Barracuda coaching staff.

"We've altered (our plan) a little bit with the suspension to Evander, injuries to Marcus (Sorensen) and other injuries that we have suffered," Wilson said. "But these young players are the key to our future. Roy, Mike Ricci, Evgeni Nabokov, Jimmy Bonneau, Michael Chiasson -- what they do is tremendously important to make sure the players are ready to play on a regular basis. And then when they come up, they get put in roles that they can succeed in."

When you look at how some of San Jose's most recent young guns have come up through the pipeline, it makes more sense as to why the organization isn't in a rush to bring any of their prospects up too soon.

"You take a look at our history, at Timo Meier's journey, Tomas Hertl's journey, Kevin Labanc's journey ... I think we do a really good job and we aren't going to alter that approach,": Wilson said.

Of course, it can't be left out that the Sharks do have one newbie who is impressing on the big stage. Rookie defenseman Mario Ferraro made the opening night roster and, despite the Sharks' rough start to the season, has visibly elevated his game with every opportunity he gets.

"Mario has played hard every night," Wilson said. "He reminds me a lot of when Radim Simek came in last year."

With so much season left, there's a strong possibility more prospects will get the chance to play with the big club as the Sharks need players to pencil into spots vacated due to injuries or suspensions. But in the meantime, they'll be getting plenty of work in at the AHL level so they'll be ready for the task of regularly playing at the NHL level.

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Bergmann, who has six points in five games for the Barracuda, is a perfect example of that kind of player.

"Lean plays with a high compete level and we know it's just a matter of time before he's ready," Wilson said. "But we want to make sure he grows as a player before then, too."

Why Sharks believe they're turning things around after win over Oilers

Why Sharks believe they're turning things around after win over Oilers

SAN JOSE -- Suffice to say, the Sharks don't look like the same team that started a six-game homestand on Nov. 1 with one of the worst records in the NHL.

With a 6-3 win over the Pacific Division-leading Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night, the Sharks have won four in a row and appear to be climbing out of the hole they dug themselves in the first month of the season.

Not to jump the gun or anything, The Sharks aren't out of the woods yet. But after the past six games, it looks like they're finally turning the corner and playing the way they expect to.

"Every game, I feel like we're more comfortable," said Tomas Hertl, who scored a goal Tuesday. "Everybody plays better. So now we have to just keep going."

The Sharks spent a good chunk of the first month of the season looking out of sync -- offensively, defensively, you name it. The culprit? Focusing too much on individual play and not working together as a unit.

"We weren't playing our system," Marc-Edouard Vlasic summarized Tuesday. "We were freelancing. We were doing our own thing. And it's funny when you stick to it, to what you do best, the results follow."

Erik Karlsson, Vlasic's defensive partner, agreed.

"We lost ourselves a little bit," said Karlsson, who had three assists Tuesday. "But right now we're working hard for each other and getting ourselves in good spots out there."

Sticking to that system yielded positive production on Tuesday against the Oilers. The Sharks scored six goals, and largely contained Oilers superstars Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. 

"We had a big task in stopping one of the best lines in hockey and I think we did a good job of that," Karlsson said. "I think everyone contributed offensively and defensively. I think we played the right way for 60 minutes even though they scored three goals. But I think we stuck with it."

"They're at the top of the division and I thought we did a good job of defending McDavid and Draisaitl as a group tonight," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer added. "I thought we had some individuals who did a really good job, but I thought everyone on the ice with those guys was aware."

Of course, getting the jump on the Oilers fewer than five minutes into the game didn't hurt, either. 

"We got the first goal, which took a little bit of the pressure off," DeBoer said. "We got to play out in front most of the night. Those kinds of things make a difference."

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Now, as Hertl mentioned, the Sharks have to keep going. With an 8-10-1 record, San Jose is still under .500.

That's not good enough for a team accustomed to playing in the postseason. 

"If you're under (.500) you're not in the playoffs," Hertl said. "We're trying the best and over the last four games, we actually look like the Sharks."

If they keep looking like the Sharks that Hertl is talking about, the outlook on the season gets a little brighter.

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 6-3 win over Pacific-best Oilers

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 6-3 win over Pacific-best Oilers


SAN JOSE -- If there was a high note for the Sharks to end their six-game homestand on, they hit it against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.

The Sharks offensively overpowered the Pacific Division-leading Oilers at SAP Center. Logan Couture and Erik Karlsson had multi-point nights and Barclay Goodrow registered a Gordie Howe hat trick as San Jose skated to a 6-3 victory. 

Here are three takeaways from the Sharks' fourth-straight win.

Coming alive 5-on-5

As fans are probably all too aware, the Sharks had a ton of trouble scoring goals at even strength at the start of the homestand. But as they have improved over this six-game span, their 5-on-5 game has come alive. San Jose scored five even-strength goals in the first 40 minutes Tuesday, the team's most impressive 5-on-5 performance of the season. 

To make things better, the Sharks got scoring from their bottom six in Tuesday's game courtesy of third-liner Patrick Marleau's first-period goal. If San Jose can start getting production from the fourth line as well, the Sharks' offense will be in really good shape going forward.

Playing more than 20 minutes

The Sharks went into the first intermission with a 3-0 lead but had a feisty Oilers' team pushing to get on the board. And as the Sharks learned from their back-and-forth 6-5 win over the Minnesota Wild last week, only playing well for the first 20 minutes isn't a good formula for winning games. 

But the Sharks didn't sit back on their heels, instead scoring another goal 1:26 into the second period and then another before the intermission. Even though the Oilers scored three goals in the last two periods, San Jose had enough of a lead to keep the damage minimal.

Not too shabby for a team with one of the league's worst goal differentials at the start of the homestand.

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The Sharks' best game to date?

Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. The Sharks have certainly played much better over the last four games, but there are still a couple of areas they need to tighten up as they try to climb their way to a .500 record.

Although the Sharks built a big enough cushion, they did let up a bit Tuesday and allow two goals in the third period to let the Oilers make things interesting. As we discussed earlier, that's exactly how the Sharks almost gave up last week's game to the Wild.

While San Jose goaltender Martin Jones did a pretty solid job against Edmonton's offense, the defense in front of him needs to stay tight late into games so they don't end up blowing any late leads.