Sharks

Talks progressing between Sharks, Vlasic and Jones

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AP

Talks progressing between Sharks, Vlasic and Jones

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson’s top offseason priority of signing defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and goalie Martin Jones to long-term contract extensions has seemingly gotten off on the right foot.

Vlasic’s agent, Bob Sauve, told NBC Sports California on Thursday that he has spoken to Wilson and talks are “going well” so far. He confirmed that both the Sharks and Vlasic would like a long-term extension, and that Vlasic enjoys playing in San Jose. 

The two sides will likely chat again soon, according to Sauve, and he’s hopeful that a deal will be in place by July 1.

The Sharks cannot officially extend either Jones or Vlasic, both pending unrestricted free agents in 2018, until July 1, per the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement.

Vlasic said in March that he would like to remain in San Jose past the 2017-18 season, the final year of a five-year, $21.25 million deal ($4.25 per year).

“I like the team, I like the area,” Vlasic said on March 14. “Competitive every year. … I’d like to sign here long-term, yeah.”

On Wednesday, TSN’s Pierre Lebrun reported that talks between the Sharks and Jones’ camp were “very positive,” and “all signs point to early July extension.”

Jones also expressed his commitment to the organization on April 24, shortly after the Sharks lost to the Oilers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. When asked if he could see himself with the Sharks long-term, Jones said: “Oh, absolutely. I love it here. The guys are great. It’s a lot of fun coming to the rink every day. City has been great. The fans are awesome, and we have a great team. I’m excited.”

The goalie will be playing out the final year of a three-year, $9 million contract next season.

Wilson made it clear on clean-out day how important it was to get Vlasic and Jones locked up.

“Certainly Martin Jones is everything we expected him to be, and he’s crucial,” Wilson said on April 24. “Marc-Edouard Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league. … Marc-Edouard is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world. Both of them are extremely important to get under contract, and we can start those discussions in the next little while.”

Sharks still searching for answers after 3-2 loss to Red Wings

Sharks still searching for answers after 3-2 loss to Red Wings

SAN JOSE – On paper, the Sharks’ problems over their six-game losing streak may appear easy to fix – especially since they had previously won six games in a row and were sitting atop the Western Conference standings just before the slide.

But according to forward Logan Couture, things are more complex than that.

“If it was easily fixable, we wouldn’t be on a six-game losing streak,” he told the media matter-of-a-factly following Team Teal’s 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. “We’ve got to fix it. There are certain things that we need to do better.”

From not having enough jump from the drop of the puck to giving up too many breakaway opportunities, the Sharks look like a very different team than they did a couple of weeks ago. The loss to Detroit is the third consecutive game the Sharks have been beaten by a team out of playoff contention. While the team is obviously banged up and trying to get healthy before the playoffs, the current dip in their performance can’t continue.

“We’re too good of a team to go on a slide like this,” Couture said. “These losses at home are not good, especially this one tonight. I thought we’d come with a better effort.”

San Jose did put up a fight late in the game, finding the back of the net twice to cut Detroit’s 3-0 lead to 3-2. It was an effort Sharks’ head coach Peter DeBoer wanted to see much earlier in the contest.

“I didn’t think we had great energy until the third period,” he said. “I thought we had desperation in the third that we needed for 60 minutes. We only came with 20 of it.”

Detroit, on the other hand, was able to capitalize on its breakaway opportunities right from the first shift of the game. Dylan Larkin got the Red Wings on the board just 38-seconds into the contest.

“We gave them way too much respect. We sat back too much,” Evander Kane summarized. “We’ve got to get there first, we’ve got to get there quicker.”

Since this is the longest losing streak the Sharks have been on this season, the press asked DeBoer if there was a mental component creeping into the team’s game. To DeBoer, no matter what it is, the team can only grind out of it.

“I don’t know if it’s mental,” he admitted. “It’s work. It’s desperation. I don’t know if there’s a complacency about where we’re sitting in the standings or what. But, we’ve got to get out of it. And the only way to get out of it is to work out of it.”

[RELATED: What we learned from Sharks' loss to Red Wings]

They have precisely six games left in the regular season to get that work in.

“If you’re going to go through something like this you’re better off doing it now than in two weeks,” DeBoer said. “But we’ve got to get healthy and guys have to get to another level here. It’s that time of year.”

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from disappointing loss to Red Wings

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USATSI

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from disappointing loss to Red Wings

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – With both the Calgary Flames and Vegas Golden Knights losing their respective contests Monday evening, the Sharks had a prime opportunity to gain some ground in the Pacific Division standings. But their efforts proved to be too little, too late as Team Teal dropped their sixth straight game, 3-2, to the Detroit Red Wings.

Here are three takeaways from Monday’s game:

The offense didn't get going in time

As the Sharks have done for much of the season, they outshot their opponent.

While trailing 1-0 partway through the second stanza, the Sharks got some really good zone time and began putting extra pressure on Detroit netminder Jonathan Bernier. Nevertheless, San Jose couldn’t find the back of the net. Even as Sharks coach Peter DeBoer threw the line combos into the blender, they didn’t light the lamp until Evander Kane’s third-period goal. At that point, the Red Wings already had a 3-0 lead.

To be fair, Bernier made some pretty good saves, especially the toe stop on Gustav Nyquist’s back-handed attempt on the power play. But the Sharks are going to be facing much tougher goalies than him during this last stretch and into the playoffs. With just six games left in the regular season, the offense needs to get going right from puck drop.

Shaky defense

San Jose’s all-around defensive play has been shoddy as the Sharks' losing streak has gone on, and Monday’s game was another example of that.

There were neutral zone turnovers and hiccups this blue line wasn’t making at the midway point of the season when they really found their game and began stringing wins together. Part of the defense’s troubles is an offshoot of how the whole team is banged up and not playing at 100 percent. It’s also hard to ignore that Radim Simek’s presence is greatly missed.

Whatever the solution is, San Jose needs to find it fast. A team can’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs without playing a tighter defensive game.

Level of concern?

Yes, this team is dealing with injury and illness and is trying to get healthy for the playoffs. And after taking last Friday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks into overtime, it really looked like San Jose was going to start turning things around. However, Monday's game looked like a step backward – against a team that has been eliminated from playoff contention, no less.

After Friday’s overtime loss in Anaheim, Timo Meier told the media it was better to go through these struggles now as opposed to once the playoffs start. While you can’t disagree with that logic, the continued losing streak can’t be good for the team’s confidence.