Sharks GM Wilson opens up on contract talks with Marleau, Thornton

Sharks GM Wilson opens up on contract talks with Marleau, Thornton

After suffering a significant left knee injury late in the season and undergoing surgery on April 24, Joe Thornton remains on schedule with his rehab.

According to general manager Doug Wilson, Thornton is still expected to be ready by the start of the 2017-18 season after he suffered torn MCL and ACL ligaments in a game in Vancouver on April 2, yet bravely returned midway through the Sharks’ first round series loss to Edmonton.

“Jumbo is doing extremely well,” Wilson said. “He’s been [at Sharks Ice] every day, looks really good. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’ll be ready and fit to start the season. The work that he’s put in already, that’s pure Jumbo. He loves the game. I see him every day here at the rink.”

Whether Thornton, a pending unrestricted free agent, returns to the Sharks is still unclear. Wilson wasn’t offering much in terms of where negotiations stand with Thornton or fellow pending unrestricted free agent Patrick Marleau.

“As far as the negotiations, some of it depends on where the overall cap number is going to be, and obviously…there are some other key contracts that I have to try and get in place. As far as both Patty and Jumbo, we’ve had some dialogue. That will continue and remain private.”

The salary cap for the 2017-18 season has yet to be released by the league. According to several reports, the NHLPA was set to vote on Friday on whether to raise the cap to $75 million from its current $73 million.

Wilson’s top priority is to sign Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long-term extensions. The general manager said he’s “making progress” with both, “but there’s still some work to be done.” They can officially sign on July 1.

It is likely at this point that Thornton and Marleau will both wait until June 25 at the earliest before doing anything, as that is the date that other teams are permitted to speak with unrestricted free agents. According to multiple sources, there are no backroom-type “handshake deals” in place for either of the two franchise cornerstones that would allow the Sharks to protect extra players in the expansion draft.

As reported here previously, Thornton would still prefer a three-year contract, and is likely seeking at least $5 million per season. Marleau is also seeking a contract of at least three years, according to a source. Both players will turn 38 before the start of the regular season, so whether they would be able to command those sorts of deals on the open market is difficult to ascertain.

There are important days ahead for all involved parties. Uncertainty abounds, at least for now.

“When it comes to making hockey decisions we have to make the decisions under this cap system that makes sense,” Wilson said. “They’ve meant a lot to us, they mean a lot to us.” 

“We’re exploring, and trying to do everything we can to make the right decisions for this franchise. They have choices also, obviously.”

Peter DeBoer talks Sharks' defensive woes against Leafs

Peter DeBoer talks Sharks' defensive woes against Leafs

SAN JOSE – The Sharks knew the test they had ahead of them with the fast, skilled Toronto Maple Leafs coming into town.

“We talked about what their strengths were and what we wanted to do to try and negate them,” coach Peter DeBoer said.

San Jose tried to do just that for the first 20 minutes of Thursday’s game, skating into the dressing room at the first intermission with a 3-2 lead. Then in the second frame, the wheels came off. San Jose allowed Toronto to use their speed to dictate the pace of the game and tilt the ice in their favor.

“It was the one thing we talked about not doing and then we did it,” DeBoer said. “We turned pucks over. Gave them a short-handed goal. Let them in behind us on some breakaways. Allowed them to play to their strengths." 

“I thought we beat ourselves tonight.”

 [RELATED: Sharks fall to Leafs]

 This isn’t the first time the Sharks bench boss has said something of this nature through the 20-game season. San Jose is now 9-3-3 on the season when they score first, meaning they’ve given up the lead six times on the early campaign. That’s not even counting each time the opposition has rallied from a deficit and left the Sharks making a late-game push.

 After Thursday’s 5-3 loss, DeBoer revealed he didn’t think the Sharks should’ve even had the lead against the Leafs. “I thought – yes, we had the lead in that game. But I didn’t feel like either we deserved to have a lead or played well enough at that point to be in that spot. I think when you find yourself in that spot and you haven’t really earned it, you probably end up getting what you deserve.”

 This hasn’t necessarily been the case in every game where the Sharks have given up a lead to a tough team. In their contest earlier in the week with the Nashville Predators, the Sharks’ first period was easily the best period of hockey they’d played all season.

A similar scenario occurred in the second frame of that game as with the second period of the Toronto game. After a period playing up to their strengths, the Sharks start giving up too many odd-man rushes and let the opposing team make a comeback.

 It’s a habit the Sharks don’t identify as being part of their game philosophy. Unfortunately, it’s happening with some regularity.

 “The frustrating part is just that we haven’t played to our identity,” Joe Pavelski said. “We do it for a few minutes ... and then all of a sudden there’s a breakaway, and another breakaway. (Martin Jones), we’re just hanging him out to dry at times with these odd man rushes and chances.”

 Brenden Dillon agreed. “We have the foundation,” he summarized. “When we’re playing at our best, we see how successful it makes us. We’re really not doing that for a full 60 minutes right now, we’re doing it in spurts.”

Both Pavelski and Dillon said the uneven play is likely a mental block the team has, and that it’s something they’re both confident the team can improve upon. As the hockey season rolls on, it’s something they’re going to need to improve quickly.

 “We’re only 20 things in, but we are 20 games in,” Dillon said. “It’s something we just have to continue to emphasize.”


Sharks takeaways: What we learned from 5-3 loss to Maple Leafs

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from 5-3 loss to Maple Leafs


SAN JOSE – You knew when Barclay Goodrow went for Nazem Kadri right off the opening faceoff that Thursday’s game between the Sharks and the Maple Leafs was going to be a doozy.

Team Teal came out buzzing against the visiting Toronto squad, but allowed the Leafs to move in and take the lead in the second frame. Although San Jose tried to roar back in the third period like they have so many times before, it was the Leafs who emerged victorious 5-3.

Here are three takeaways from Thursday’s game:

Odd-man rushes were an issue

This was something the Sharks had a problem with in their Tuesday night contest with the Nashville Predators as well. It’s especially been an issue in the middle of games when multiple opponents have crept up on them on the scoreboard. 

Such was the case again in the second period of Thursday’s game, most notably when Kasperi Kapanen had a short-handed breakaway and found the back of the net to give Toronto a 4-3 lead.

On that note …

San Jose needs to put up a strong defensive front for the whole game

In the first period of Thursday’s game, the Sharks displayed that full-team defensive effort they’ve been talking about this entire homestand. All forwards and defensemen were moving quickly, creating chances and helping goalie Martin Jones out.

The second period though, much like San Jose’s second frame against Nashville, told a different story. The Sharks started turning the puck over more against the skilled Toronto team and weren’t giving Jones the support he needs. (Not to say that Jones was perfect. But the team in-front of him wasn’t helping him out.)  By the time the Sharks began getting back to playing a stronger defensive game, they were down two goals late in the third frame.

Nobody on the Sharks seems particularly fond of Nazem Kadri

You may recall Kadri and Joe Thornton duked it out at the beginning of one of last season’s Leafs-Sharks meet-ups, and Kadri yanked a piece of Thornton’s Zeus-like beard right off his face. Despite the fact that Jumbo Joe shaved the signature facial hair at the start of the season, his teammates weren’t going to let the act go unavenged. Goodrow went right for him, Timo Meier got up in his grill – heck even Thornton himself exchanged a few words at the start of the second stanza.

While standing up for your teammates is great, letting a player like Kadri get under the team’s skin can also be costly. Like in the first frame when Meier went to the box after being poked by Kadri and Toronto ended up scoring during four-on-four play. Things got exceptionally heated after the Leafs scored their fifth goal on the evening and Kadri cross-checked Melker Karlsson and both player started to duke it out.