Sharks

Sharks miss out on John Tavares as top free agent signs with Leafs

Sharks miss out on John Tavares as top free agent signs with Leafs

John Tavares chose not to sign with the Sharks at the start of free agency on Sunday, and instead signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tavares and the Leafs agreed to a seven-year, $77 million deal.

Shortly after the news broke, Tavares posted two notes on Twitter.

San Jose was one of six teams, including Toronto, that met with the now-former New York Islanders captain and agent Pat Brisson at CAA headquarters in Los Angeles earlier this week. Owner Hasso Plattner, general manager Doug Wilson, and head coach Peter DeBoer were among the participants that tried to sell the 2009 No. 1 overall pick on coming to the Bay Area. 

The pitch reportedly impressed Tavares, and he was believed to have the Sharks and Maple Leafs atop his list of destinations if he chose not to re-sign with the Islanders, The Athletic's Arthur Staple wrote on Thursday.  Once the deadline for Tavares to sign an eight-year contract extension came and went, however, the Leafs were the apparent frontrunners, Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reported early Sunday morning. 

Last week, Wilson appeared to prepare for the possibility of signing the 27-year-old. San Jose bought out veteran defenseman Paul Martin's contract and traded winger Mikkel Boedker to the Ottawa Senators, clearing nearly $7 million in salary cap space. That gave the Sharks about $19 million to play with headed into free agency, according to CapFriendly. 

Now, the Sharks will have to turn to other options. Wilson told reporters (via The Athletic) before the NHL Draft that San Jose was "positioned really well to be pretty active in adding another piece," but did not rule out sitting on his cap space headed into the season.

Meanwhile, Tavares will play in his hometown, and alongside what is arguably the best core of young players in the NHL, one that includes Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander. He'll also play alongside a face familiar to Sharks fans: Patrick Marleau, who opted not to return to San Jose last summer and signed a three-year, $18.75 million deal with the Maple Leafs. 

Tavares, Marleau, and the Leafs will make their only visit to SAP Center next season on Nov. 15. 

Sharks' roster hopefuls still 'auditioning' as regular season nears

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USATSI

Sharks' roster hopefuls still 'auditioning' as regular season nears

SAN JOSE - Yes, the Sharks have roster spots they need to fill. Nobody knows that better than Peter DeBoer.

So perhaps it was to be expected when the head coach said more than once after San Jose's first preseason game Tuesday night that he hasn't filled out his final roster for the Sharks' season-opener against the Vegas Golden Knights yet.

 "We're Game 1 into a tryout here," DeBoer said. "An audition. We're not handing out any jobs tonight."

You can't blame him for answering that way. He'd probably love it if everyone outside the team stopped trying to piece his roster together for him. 

Here's the thing: San Jose is just two games into the preseason and has rolled out two different lineups for each game. A roster for opening night will come together, but DeBoer hasn't settled on the exact pieces to that puzzle just yet.

Despite losing their first two preseason games, some of the Sharks' roster hopefuls have done some positive things. Jonny Brodzinski added an offensive punch in Tuesday's game against the Anaheim Ducks while Manuel Wiederer contributed two goals in Wednesday's game against the Calgary Flames. Ryan Merkley pitched in as a helper twice in his first preseason game while Joachim Blichfeld, Ivan Chekhovich and Lean Bergmann also have found the back of the net in the preseason.

Nevertheless, one preseason showing doesn't -- as DeBoer said -- guarantee anyone a starting job.

The Sharks are aware that replacing offensive depth left by the departures of Joe Pavelski, Gustav Nyquist and Joonas Donskoi is a process. In addition to scoring big goals, San Jose also has to be able to sustain offense through a full 60 minutes on a nightly basis. Through the first two games of the preseason, the team has had some difficulty doing this.

"I think we need to sustain more O-zone pressure," Brodzinski observed after Tuesday night's 4-3 loss to the Ducks, a game where the Sharks jumped out to an early 2-0 lead and then took their foot off the gas in the second stanza. "We didn't have a lot of it tonight. I felt like it was more of a neutral zone game. Then we played a little bit too much in our own zone. If we can play down there a lot more, we wouldn't be as tired coming into the late shifts there."

If the idea that San Jose hasn't filled out its roster just yet scares you, keep in mind -- neither preseason game has featured the Sharks' opening night roster. Heck, we haven't even seen Logan Couture, Erik Karlsson or Martin Jones suit up for a game yet. Many of the players who have played over the past two days will be starting the season playing for the Barracuda. 

Plus, even once the regular season gets underway, there still are going to be changes made to San Jose's roster as players move between the AHL and NHL in an effort to give the team the most dynamic lineup. Just think about how many times the lineup changed at the start of last season.

[RELATED: Sharks expecting Meier to step forward in wake of departures]

The Sharks have roughly a week and a half to get into fighting shape before opening night October 2, which includes four more preseason tune-ups that kick off on Saturday with a contest against the Golden Knights. It's very possible DeBoer will roll out a lineup consisting of a few more regular-season starters, along with a few players high on the list of opening night roster additions.

Just don't be surprised if Saturday's preseason game is just another step in the audition process for players on that list.

Sharks expecting Timo Meier to take step forward in wake of departures

Sharks expecting Timo Meier to take step forward in wake of departures

Individual progress of an NHL player should not always be measured in goals. 

Yet it’s hard to ignore Timo Meier’s production: 21 goals in his first full season, followed up by 30 last year. 

“He’s worked for everything he’s got,” Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said of Meier. “I think power forwards take a little bit longer. It’s a harder league for bigger guys playing that kind of game to establish themselves."

“His jump last year was incredible,” fellow forward Barclay Goodrow remarked. “He kind of turned into a whole new player, just more confident. He took some games over, shooting the puck and driving the net. Just things he does well at a better pace.” 

The Swiss-born winger has developed a full-fledged reputation for utilizing all six feet and 210 pounds he’s got. 

“I try to be a physical guy. Try to get in the areas where you might hurt, and try to score some dirty goals,” Meier said at training camp. “I want to get better, that’s always something I try to stay hungry on.” 

Timing plays a critical role in the development of a homegrown product like Meier. The Sharks were able to let him develop in the pipeline, and now he's thriving on the biggest stage. 

“He got there the right way,” DeBoer explained. “You’ve got a guy with a lot of confidence, we’ve added a couple minutes every year to his time on ice. He’s going to take another step this year with the guys that departed. We’re excited to see where he can go with it.” 

And that is the exciting question: Where can Meier take things this season? 

[RELATED: Why Sharks confident they can make up for lost firepower]

“I’m not a guy that wants to put out a number and say I have to score that many goals,” Meier admitted. “I just try to go out and be the best player I can for the team.”