Sharks

Successful road trip sets Sharks up nicely for four-game homestand

Successful road trip sets Sharks up nicely for four-game homestand

Through the first 11 games the Sharks’ 2018-19 campaign, they’ve only spent three tilts on home ice. All the travel hasn’t exactly been a cakewalk either. On the most recent three-game road trip, they traveled to Nashville, then all the way to the east coast to Carolina, then back to California.

“I don’t know if anyone’s had a tougher schedule to start than us,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer told the media after the team’s 4-3 overtime win in Anaheim, which finally concluded the hectic road schedule.

Now, the Sharks gearing up for a four straight games at the Tank with a mix of competition awaiting them. Despite not playing in San Jose very much, their success on the recent roadie sets them up pretty well to put a few notches in the win column while they’re at home.

Right out of the gate San Jose has a rematch against the New York Rangers, a team that beat the Sharks a couple weeks ago behind a vintage performance from netminder Henrik Lundqvist. After continuing to grind against a dominant John Gibson on Sunday, who gave Anaheim a chance to win on Sunday, the Sharks are even more prepared to go up against a strong opposing goalie.

It doesn’t hurt that the Sharks special teams came alive on the recent roadie, contributing in all three tilts away from San Jose. The Sharks can capitalize on that in the up-coming homestand with the first three teams they face – New York, Columbus, and Philadelphia – all ranking in the lower echelon in the penalty kill department. (That could potentially set them up by the time they face the Minnesota Wild who possess the sixth best kill in the league.)

It isn’t just the special teams that have gelled particularly well on the Sharks’ recent travels. Chemistry is clearly coming together on both the offensive and defensive front.

“We’re finding our way, we’re finding our identity as a team,” DeBoer commented after the win over the Ducks. “We know what our good games look like, what’s working for us.”

Knowing what works can really pay dividends as the Sharks prepare for this upcoming four-game homestand.

Sharks to host top prospects, four 2019 draft picks at development camp

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USATSI

Sharks to host top prospects, four 2019 draft picks at development camp

Four of the Sharks' picks from the 2019 NHL Draft will attend the team's development camp in San Jose this week.

Second-round picks Artemi Kniazev and Dillon Hamliuk, as well as fourth-rounder Yegor Spiridonov and sixth-rounder Santeri Hatakka will particpate, as will top Sharks prospects including Ryan Merkley (2018 first-round pick), Mario Ferraro (2017 second-round pick) and Sasha Chmelevski (2017 sixth-round pick).

In all, 46 players are scheduled to attend when camp gets underway Tuesday, and the prospects will scrimmage twice in camp.

The first scrimmage takes place Wednesday, and the prospects will scrimmage again Friday night at SAP Center. Tickets cost $10 (or $20 for four), with "net proceeds benefitting the Sharks foundation," the team said in a release.

[RELATED: How will Sharks' salary-cap crunch affect Meier?]

The full list of players can be found here. 

Sharks free-agency decisions: Will star winger Timo Meier stay or go?

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AP

Sharks free-agency decisions: Will star winger Timo Meier stay or go?

One could argue the 2018-19 season was when Sharks winger Timo Meier "arrived."

The 22-year-old honed his skills as a power forward this past campaign, cementing himself as a staple in the Sharks lineup. His 30-goal regular season was tied with Evander Kane for third-best on the team, and his 15 points in the Stanley Cup playoffs tied for third-best with Tomas Hertl.

Now, Meier is primed to headline a stacked restricted free-agent class generating plenty of buzz this offseason. He also is one of a handful of young Sharks who can become an RFA this summer 

Here's a look at why Meier could stay in San Jose for a long time -- and why he potentially could be on the move.

Why he could stay

There's no secret here. Signing Meier is one of the Sharks' top priorities this offseason. 

Mix Meier's upward in-season progress with the amount of responsibility he has already taken on as a young player, and you have a player any team would want on their roster. The Swiss product has also demonstrated a strong work ethic and drive to continue building his game, as he said on locker-room cleanout day at the end of May that he still has room to improve. 

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said that same day that he had already had a few discussions with Meier's agent. Although the nature of those talks have remained private, Wilson did reference that many of the team's young stars in the past have been signed to bridge deals, which carry a smaller salary-cap hit over a shorter term as a "bridge" to a bigger contract down the line. Tomas Hertl, for instance signed a two-year, $6 million contract as an RFA in 2016 before signing a five-year, $22.5 million contract last summer. 

With that knowledge in mind, the Sharks likely want to reach a similar deal with Meier before the end of the summer.

Why he could go

Before everyone starts freaking out too much -- yes, it's likely that Meier and the Sharks will reach a deal. But San Jose's lack of cap space makes things a little more complicated, and the possibility of an offer sheet can't be ignored. 

A player of Meier's caliber will demand a healthy payday, and the Sharks have just under $14.5 million in salary-cap space according to CapFriendly. If San Jose can't move more pieces around and get some relief under the cap, signing Meier to a second contract that isn't a bridge deal will be difficult.

The Sharks undoubtedly want to avoid what the Toronto Maple Leafs experienced with William Nylander last season. The young forward didn't re-sign until Dec. 1, and struggled to find his goal-scoring touch in 54 regular-season games. 

With conversations underway, there's hope that nothing close to the Nylander situation will take place. An offer sheet doesn't seem realistic either, considering a player has not signed one since 2013. 

[RELATED: Donskoi reportedly receiving 'strong interest' in free agency]

The verdict

The Sharks are going to get a deal done with Meier. Given San Jose's history of signing young players, there's every reason to believe the two sides will find common ground before training camp begins in September.

That, however, could require the Sharks clearing additional salary-cap space to make an offer Meier will accept. It might take a little time and debate before both sides are happy.

By the end of the offseason, however, conversations surrounding Meier should go back to what he can do for the Sharks in the upcoming season rather than his contract.