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Sharks prospects to watch: Ivan Chekhovich has skill to earn NHL spot

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AP

Sharks prospects to watch: Ivan Chekhovich has skill to earn NHL spot

Editor's Note: This week, NBC Sports California will highlight five different Sharks prospects to watch heading into the 2019-20 season. Some have a chance to make the NHL roster as soon as this year, while others face critical years in their development. We conclude with winger Ivan Chekhovich.

For the second straight year, Sharks prospect Ivan Chekhovich earned a look with the AHL's San Jose Barracuda late in the season. 

The 20-year-old left winger tied for second in the notoriously high-scoring QMJHL with 105 points (43 goals, 62 assists), and joined the Barracuda once more for their playoff push. While he wasn't as prolific as his first stint with the Barracuda, he showed he belonged at the professional level and scored seven points (three goals, four assists) in nine regular-season and playoff games. 

Chekhovich missed out on representing Russia at the IIHF World Junior Championship after injuring his back lifting weights but had about as strong of a season as he could have asked for to close out his junior career. He caught the eye of Barracuda coach Roy Sommer at the team's prospect development camp earlier this month and has the skill to push for an NHL roster spot in training camp. Here's what to expect from Chekhovich this season. 

Ivan Chekhovich

Draft year, position: 2017, seventh round (No. 212 overall)
Position: Left wing
Shoots: Left
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 180 pounds
2018-19 team: Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)/San Jose Barracuda (AHL)

Skill set

Chekhovich is a strong skater who is very creative on offense. He is a good passer and boasts a strong shot, with the hands to deke and dangle around defenders. That package has added plenty of plays to his highlight reel. 

He is perhaps a tad undersized at 5-foot-10 and could stand to bulk up a bit as he transitions to professional hockey. But, he does a strong stick that he uses to hound opponents on the forecheck. Chekhovich fits the mold of a winger who can succeed in a league increasingly relying upon players with skill and skating ability. 

Training-camp proving ground

Earlier this summer, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson mentioned Chekhovich among a list of candidates who will have a shot to make the team out of training camp. Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist are gone, and San Jose could use some skill among its top nine forwards, and the winger should get a long look.

But he'll face some competition in that regard. Joachim Blichfeld, who was the highest-scoring Sharks prospect with 114 points in the WHL last season, and free-agent signing Jonny Brodzinski likely will be in the mix, and centers Dylan Gambrell and Sasha Chmelevski can play on the wing. Considering how much the Sharks lost up front, though, he wouldn't have to beat out each of them to earn a spot. 

Best-case scenario

As one of the Sharks' final cuts at training camp, Chekhovich immediately emerges as one of the Barracuda's best players. He earns an NHL call-up by the end of October and works his way up DeBoer's lineup.

By the turn of the calendar, Chekhovich grabs a spot on either Logan Couture or Tomas Hertl's wing and stays there for the remainder of the season. Once the playoffs roll around, Chekhovich gives the Sharks much-needed depth and emerges as an x-factor. 

Worst-case scenario

Chekhovich makes the Sharks out of training camp but is sent down to the AHL after playing fewer than 10 games. His confidence takes a hit and his previous AHL scoring record -- he scored on six of his 27 shots (22.2 percent) in 19 AHL games over the last two years -- feels like a distant memory after some ill-timed regression to the mean. 

Although Chekhovich finds his footing by the end of his first full professional season, he doesn't do so quickly enough to get much more of a look from the Sharks throughout the year. He becomes an important player for the Barracuda, but there are questions about his long-term NHL potential.

[RELATED: Can Sharks' Ferraro go straight from college to the NHL?]

Realistic expectations

The Sharks surely will have to experiment throughout the season in order to replace their departing forwards, and Chekhovich should be among the forwards who get a look. He has the ability to hang around and the potential to do more than that if he proves to be a fit alongside Couture, Hertl or even veteran center Joe Thornton on a skilled third line. 

Chekhovich's first professional certainly wouldn't be a disappointment if he ends it in the AHL, but the Sharks will feel much better about their forward depth if he can hang on with the big club.

NHL rumors: Sharks' Brenden Dillon of interest to Bruins, 'half dozen' teams

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AP

NHL rumors: Sharks' Brenden Dillon of interest to Bruins, 'half dozen' teams

The market for Brenden Dillon is heating up. It's sounding like more of a "when" rather than an "if" the Sharks' defenseman will be moved.

In a season where very little has gone right for San Jose, Dillon has been one of the few, consistent bright spots. He has appeared in every game while averaging over 19 minutes of ice time, and he leads all Sharks' defensemen in plus-minus. According to TSN Insiders Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun, the closer the NHL gets to the trade deadline, the more teams reportedly are inquiring about the blue-liner who is on pace to lead the Sharks in hits for the fourth straight season. 

"Most definitely the Winnipeg Jets are in the market for a specific top-four defenseman," Dreger reported Tuesday. "Now, it could be a rental player, it could be a player with some term. They're not ruling out anything at this point."

Dillon is in the final year of his contract and is due to hit unrestricted free agency this summer, so he would fall into the rental category. Given the price Dillon is likely to command, that might not be ideal for Winnipeg, but Dreger noted that the Dustin Byfuglien situation -- as well as Bryan Little and Adam Lowry's respective recoveries from injury -- could force the Jets' hand.

LeBrun agreed that Dillon would make plenty of sense for Winnipeg, but didn't stop there.

"I don't think he would be on the top of their list, but certainly on the list of players that the Jets would have compiled already, I think Brenden Dillon would be on there somewhere," LeBrun said. "Pending UFA, he's a defenseman that's going to be dealt by the San Jose Sharks. He's a No. 4 for some teams, a No. 5 for others. I can tell you half-a-dozen teams so far have shown interest, including, I'm told, the Boston Bruins. Obviously a rugged, defensive defenseman in Brenden Dillon would be a nice fit there in Boston. Carolina Hurricanes, who just lost Dougie Hamilton, have also been among the teams that have shown interest." 

"It will not be an issue moving Brenden Dillon," LeBrun summarized. "The question is what can San Jose get out of it? I think it's probably going to be a second-round pick, and maybe a prospect."

[RELATED: If Sharks' Marleau doesn't pick goal song, his wife will]

The Sharks are still holding out hope for a playoff push, but whether or not they are successful in that pursuit, Dillon might be of more value to them elsewhere.

Why Patrick Marleau's goal song didn't play in Sharks' win over Ducks

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AP

Why Patrick Marleau's goal song didn't play in Sharks' win over Ducks

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks are ready to spice up their goal celebrations. In a 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night, San Jose brought the heat, but the SAP Center DJ failed to bring the expected flavor.

It wasn't his or her fault, though. It's sort of hard to play the right song when there is no song to be played.

Before being robbed of a much-deserved All-Star Game MVP award over the weekend in St. Louis, Tomas Hertl broke the news to Sharks fans that he and his fellow teammates would each have their own goal songs when the team returned from the All-Star break. Each player's song was supposed to be kept a surprise until they scored a goal, so when Stefan Noesen lit the lamp less than two minutes into the game Monday night, it came as a surprise to many -- Noesen included -- when the team's default goal song came on over the loudspeakers.

A few minutes later, Patrick Marleau scored to make it 2-0 San Jose. Again, 2 Unlimited's "Get Ready for This" played. In the second period, Marleau scored his second goal of the night. Same thing. So what gave?

It turns out that it was part operator error, part old-fashioned procrastination.

Noesen had actually picked a song out, and lucky for the Sharks, the SAP Center crowd would get to hear it before the night was over. Marleau, on the other hand, is still deliberating.

"Still working it out to see what it is," Marleau said of his yet-to-be-decided goal song after San Jose's win. "Probably leave it up to my family. They'll pick it."

Last week, Marleau's wife took to Twitter to ask Sharks fans for suggestions as to what his goal song should be. Apparently, none were to his liking, but his better half won't allow him to go without one for much longer.

After he scored his first goal of the night, Marleau's wife threatened to choose "Wheels on the Bus" on his behalf if he didn't figure one out soon. The couple has four boys between the ages of 5 and 13 so one would imagine Marleau has heard plenty of that song over the last decade.

Chances are, he has heard plenty of Noesen's song, too.

Early in the third period, Noesen ripped a slapshot from the slot into the back of Anaheim's net after receiving what he called an "all-world" pass from Erik Karlsson. The goal increased San Jose's lead to 4-1, and as fans rose out of their seats to celebrate the goal that put the game out of reach, their ears were greeted by the unmistakable sounds of "Hakuna Matata."

"I had something else picked out and then somebody else was watching 'The Lion King,' and I thought that would be kind of funny to put on and maybe get a little reaction from the crowd, too," Noesen said of his song choice. "And they seemed to enjoy it. It was fun."

[RELATED: Would Sharks really trade Thornton or Marleau this year?]

While Marleau still needs to come to a decision, Noesen plans to stick with his.

"Yeah, unless someone tells me otherwise," he said with a laugh following his first two-goal game with San Jose. "I thought it was good. They messed it up on the first one, and I wasn't sure if I'd ever have another chance to hear it.

"It was a good thing I got that nice pass."