Sharks

Wilson 'talking to every team' ahead of expansion draft deadline

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USATI

Wilson 'talking to every team' ahead of expansion draft deadline

Typically this time of year, NHL general managers and their respective staffs are busy preparing for the upcoming entry draft, deciding what to do with their pending free agents, and thinking about potential free agent targets for July 1.

While that’s all surely going on, it’s the expansion draft that is on the top of Doug Wilson’s mind at the moment. The Sharks, like every other NHL team, must submit their list of protected players before Saturday’s 2 p.m. deadline.

The Sharks’ general manager indicated there are plenty of wheels in motion for his club leading up to that deadline. He has still not determined (or is not willing to publicly reveal) whether the Sharks will protect eight skaters and one goalie - allowing them to protect four defensemen - or seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie.

“We’ve fleshed it all out. We can go either way. Still some time between now and tomorrow when we have to submit our list, so things can change between now and then,” Wilson said on Friday. 

“I think we’re leaning towards one direction than the other, but between now and then things could change. I’ve been certainly talking to every team and will be talking to Las Vegas prior to our submission time tomorrow.”

The NHL permits its member clubs to make deals with Las Vegas centered around which player is selected. For example – and this is only an example – if the Sharks would like the Golden Knights to select Mikkel Boedker and his hefty contract, rather than someone else from their roster, they could sweeten the pot by offering further assets like a draft pick or a prospect.

Wilson left the option of a deal with Vegas on the table, while indicating there could be moves made with other teams, too.

“[A deal with Vegas] is a possibility, but we’re exploring hockey trades, also,” Wilson said. “All teams have been in communication with each other. There are some teams that are positioned differently than others with the expansion draft. We feel we’re pretty comfortable.”

“Some teams I’m sure are trying to do deals with Las Vegas if they have higher end players that they’re willing to subsidize. I’m sure Las Vegas will explore acquiring players that they could put in the market the following week. It will be an interesting week.”

Leading the Golden Knights’ draft is general manager George McPhee, who spent 17 seasons in charge of the Washington Capitals, helping that club rise to prominence. Wilson expects McPhee, who has hired the well-regarded Gerard Gallant to be the franchise’s first head coach, to ice a competitive team – and a Pacific Division rival of the Sharks – in short order.

“It won’t take them long to be good,” Wilson said. “[McPhee] did it in Washington, he built that organization. They’ll get a pretty good head start, better than a lot of expansion teams have in the past. I remember us 26 years ago probably didn’t have this type of advantage. But, I think they’ll have a good team. I do.”

The protected lists will be revealed publicly on Sunday morning at 7 a.m., while the Golden Knights’ roster will be unveiled at the NHL Awards show on Wednesday, June 21 in Las Vegas. There is a trade freeze from noon Saturday though 5 a.m. on Thursday, June 22.

Sharks keep emotions in check, season alive in Game 5 win vs. Vegas

Sharks keep emotions in check, season alive in Game 5 win vs. Vegas

SAN JOSE – To say this first-round series between the Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights has been emotional is a bit of an understatement.

The fervor brought on by the Stanley Cup playoffs was at an all-time high for the Sharks in a blowout loss in Game 4 on Tuesday, as an inability to score on Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made their frustration boil over. That, in turn, led to the Sharks lacking defensive discipline and parading to the penalty box. 

But in their season-extending 5-2 win over the Golden Knights in Game 5 on Thursday, the Sharks were on their best behavior. Vegas tried and tried to claw back into the game, and get a rise out of San Jose in the process. In the end, the Sharks didn’t give the Knights that satisfaction.

“A game like this where you lose and you go home for the summer – we understood the importance of it,” Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon said after the win. “We've got to put our emotions to the side, and I think we did a good job of that tonight.”

The Sharks had just four penalty minutes Thursday, compared to 38 in Game 4. San Jose coach Peter DeBoer criticized his team's emotional outburst in that one, and said Thursday he was much happier with how the Sharks handled themselves. 

“I though last game became a little bit of a sideshow,” he said. “We talked about it and I thought we did a better job.”

With the Sharks leading 2-1 in the second period, Vegas tried to get under San Jose’s skin with a little extra pushing and shoving in front of Martin Jones' net. But instead of fully engaging, the Sharks pushed back just enough to not get penalized, and then moved on to score the next goal. Barclay Goodrow redirected Justin Braun's shot past Fleury, giving the Sharks a 3-1 lead with the eventual game-winning goal. 

The Knights eventually showed frustration this time around, particularly netminder Fleury. Tomas Hertl said after Game 1 the Sharks could tell when they got Fleury frazzled, and said after Game 5 he saw that same reaction.

“Every goal he gets a little bit frustrated so we have to keep doing that,” Hertl insisted, admitting he thinks the Sharks can improve on pressuring Fleury. “We have to be a little bit better because he made the last couple huge saves. But we have to keep frustrating him and keep being harder around the net and score a couple more goals.”

While the Sharks found a way to keep those emotions at bay in Game 5, their work isn’t over yet. After forcing a Game 6, the series returns to Sin City where the Knights have the overflowing support from their home crowd. The job of keeping frustration taking over becomes even more critical.

“Fans help them always, so we have to figure it out and be ready for them,” Hertl said.

[RELATED: Hertl pulls a Messier after dominant Game 5]

Hertl himself told the Sharks fans at the Tank in his on-ice interview that Team Teal will be back in the building for a Game 7 on Tuesday. Keeping their emotions in check and staying out of the penalty box will be big keys to making his prophecy a reality.

“There’s no room to mess around,” Goodrow said. “We’ll have to go in with the same mindset that we had tonight and come out with the win and force Game 7 here.”

Tomas Hertl goes Mark Messier, guarantees Sharks will force Game 7 vs. Vegas

Tomas Hertl goes Mark Messier, guarantees Sharks will force Game 7 vs. Vegas

Tomas Hertl had plenty of reasons to feel confident Thursday night.

He arguably was the Sharks' best player in a season-extending 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the first-round Stanley Cup playoff series. Hertl scored two goals, and finished the night with five shots on goal (tied for first on the Sharks), nine attempts (first), six scoring chances (tied-first) and two high-danger chances (tied for fourth). 

That confidence extended to his postgame interview with NBC Sports California's Jamie Baker, when Hertl pulled a Mark Messier and guaranteed that the Sharks would force a Game 7.

"We know we have one more game and come back for Game 7, and I believe it because we're a better team than them," Hertl told Baker with a smile. 

The Sharks-Golden Knights series has had no shortage of trash talk, most of which stemmed from Evander Kane -- and the rest of the Sharks -- beefing with Vegas enforcer Ryan Reaves. Hertl's guarantee could add to the bulletin-board material, but he also could follow in Messier's footsteps a quarter-century later. 

[RELATED: Stop the presses! Sharks take first lead since Game 1]

Twenty-five years ago next month, Messier guaranteed his New York Rangers would win Game 6 on the road against the rival New Jersey Devils and force a do-or-die Game 7 in Madison Square Garden. Messier delivered with a natural hat trick in a third period that began with the Rangers trailing 2-1. 

Hertl replicating his Game 5 performance -- or Messier's historic one -- in Game 6 would go a long way toward the Sharks fending off elimination once more.