Summer thoughts: forwards

In advance of free agency, what might the Sharks be looking to fill on the forward ranks?

The Sharks/Barracuda nominally have about 30 forwards under contract: 14 NHL, 14 AHL, and 2-4 in ECHL.

With three forward positions possible, lots of flexibility if a player can play multiple positions.  The Sharks’ strategy has to been to acquire the best player available, with lots of hockey sense, resulting in a plethora of centers (who end up playing wing and/or swap in/out of center and taking faceoffs).

21 – Currently signed through 6/30/17 (with position, years remaining, trade restrictions):

  • C Joe Pavelski (3 years, NTC)
  • C Joe Thornton (1 year, NMC)
  • F Joonas Donskoi (1 year)
  • C Logan Couture (3 years, NTC)
  • R Joel Ward (2 years, NTC)
  • C Chris Tierney (1 year)
  • C Patrick Marleau (1 year, NMC)
  • C Tommy Wingels (1 year)
  • C Melker Karlsson (1 year)
  • R Nikolay Goldobin (2 years)
  • R Barclay Goodrow (1 year)
  • C Nikita Jevpalovs (2 years)
  • C Rourke Chartier (3 years)
  • R Jonathon Martin (3 years)
  • R Alex Schoenborn (3 years)
  • R Marcus Sorensen (1 year)
  • L Adam Helewka (3 years)
  • R Kevin Labanc (3 years)
  • R Timo Meier (3 years)
  • C Daniel O’Regan (2 years)
  • L Alex Gallant (AHL, 1 year)

8 Pending UFAs

  • C Michael Haley
  • L Bryan Lerg (signed to play in Sweden)
  • L John McCarthy
  • L Frazer McLaren
  • C Nick Spaling
  • L Danius Zubrus
  • F Scott Timmins (AHL)
  • R Trevor Parks (AHL)

7 Pending RFAs (with arbitration rights indicated) — UPDATED with QOs

  • C Ryan Carpenter *
  • R Chris Crane *
  • R Petter Emmanuelson (signed to play in Sweden)
  • C Tomas Hertl
  • C Jeremy Langlois *
  • W Jeremy Morin *
  • W Matt Nieto

11 Unsigned prospects:

  • C Colin Blackwell (college grad – needs to be signed by 8/15 or becomes UFA)
  • C Jacob Jackson (3 years college)
  • L Emil Galimov (defected)
  • R Noah Rod
  • C Maxim Letunov (3 years college)
  • L Rudolfs Balcers
  • C Marcus Vela
  • C Dylan Gambrel (3 years college)
  • C Noah Gregor
  • C Manuel Wiederer
  • W Joachim Blichfield

So, the Sharks have about 9 additional forwards that need to be (re-)signed.  I think the Sharks will re-sign five of the 7 RFAs (all but Crane and Emmanuelsson, and maybe not Morin).  Of the 8 UFAs, I can see Haley and McCarthy (for AHL veteran leadership), plus Timmins and Parkes, re-signed.   Which maybe leaves 1-2 UFAs to be signed.

I can see Thornton and Marleau extended this summer (the latter for less than the former).

For the expansion draft, teams may protect up to 7 forwards.  Teams must expose at least two forwards who played 40 games in 16-17 or 70 games 15-16 through 16-17, signed through 17-18.  Players with (non-expiring) NMCs must be protected.

Expansion draft exempt forwards include: Crane, Donskoi, Doremus, Emmanuelson, Gallant, Goldobin, Jevpalovs, Chartier, Helewka, Labanc, J Martin, Meier, Schoenborn, Balcers, Vela, Gambrel, Gregor, Wiederer, Blichfield

I’m thinking the protected players will be:  Pavelski, Thornton, Marleau, Couture, Hertl (re-signed), Ward, Tierney.

This would leave exposed Wingels, Karlsson, Nieto (re-signed) and others.  Some players would require an extension to meet the NHL requirement of signed through 2017-18.

Lots of things to consider this summer as the organization prepares for 2016-17 season and the 2017 expansion draft.

Summer thoughts: defensemen

What roster moves might be wanted/needed this summer to bolster the blueline? What impact will the expansion draft have on the defensive depth?

Let’s look at the defensemen in the organization.

The Sharks/Barracuda nominally have about 20 D-men under contract: 7 in NHL, 7-8 in AHL and 1-6 in ECHL for depth call ups.

Sharks/Barracuda have the following blueliners under contract (in approximate depth chart order) for 2016-17 (with shooting side and year(s) remaining):

  • Marc-Edouard Vlasic (Left, 2 years; NTC)
  • Brent Burns (Right, 1 year)
  • Justin Braun (Right, 4 years)
  • Paul Martin (Left, 3 years)
  • Brendan Dillon (Left, 4 years)
  • Michael Brodzinski (Right, 3 years, ELS)
  • Mirco Mueller (Left, 1 year, ELS)
  • Julius Bergman (Right, 2 years, ELS)
  • Tim Heed (Right, 1 year, ELS)
  • Joakim Ryan (Left, 1 year, ELS)
  • Patrick McNally (Left, 1 year, ELS)
  • Cavan Fitzgerald (Left, 3 years, ELS)
  • Jeremy Roy (Right, QMJHL/ELS)

Pending UFAs/RFAs

  • Dylan DeMelo RFA (Right)
  • Roman Polak UFA (Right)
  • Karl Stollery UFA (Left)
  • Gus Young UFA/AHL (Left)
  • Rick Pinkston UFA/AHL (Left)
  • Mark Cundari UFA (Left) – signed in Europe
  • Danny Federico UFA/AHL (Left)
  • Matt Tennyson UFA (Right)

Unsigned draftees

  • Gage Ausmus (Left, ’17 grad)
  • Karlis Cukste (Left, ’20 grad)
  • Adam Parsells (Left, ’20 grad?)
  • Clifford Watson (Left, ’17 grad)

Draftee Alexis Vanier (Left) was not signed by 6/1 deadline.  Guessing that’s a case of too many lefties in the organization and he fell down the depth chart after getting a bonafide offer last spring.

NHL coach DeBoer likes to match left/right in pairs for his blue line.  Vlasic-Braun, Martin-Burns, Dillon-Polak were the pairs during the Stanley Cup Final.  Some lefties have played their off side, especially in the AHL.

I don’t see any buy out candidates. There are 12 defenseman signed I expect to play for the Sharks or Barracuda next season; Roy should be heading back to the Q as a 19 year old.  I expect the Sharks to re-sign DeMelo, and maybe Tennyson.  That would mean 2-5 blue liners should be signed from the pending UFA guys in the organization last year, and or free market for depth.  Stollery was a good veteran D for the Barracuda and I hope he’s re-signed.

In the expansion draft, the Sharks will be able to protect three defensemen. Teams have to expose (at least) two defensemen signed through 2017-18 (who played 40+ games in 15-16 or 70+ games in 14-15 and 15-16).

Defensemen exempt from expansion draft include: Ausmus, Watson, Cukste, Parsells; Bergman, McNally, Pinkston, Ryan; Brodzinski, Fitzgerald, Roy, Heed.  (Plus 2016 draftees and other prospects signed.)

Even though Burns is a pending UFA in advance of the expansion draft, it’s expected that he’ll be signed to an extension this summer.

My guess on who’s protected:  Vlasic, Burns, Braun

That would leave Martin and Dillon exposed.  Now, the Sharks may even want to ensure Mueller and DeMelo  stay in the organization by making a “future considerations” trade so that they would not be picked up.

The Sharks seem defensively well positioned for the 2016-17 season.  I see a handful of re-signings to bolster depth in the AHL and/or NHL.

Sharks 2016-17 schedule notes

The San Jose Sharks NHL schedule has been released.  (You can download the schedule, sync with your calendar, print, etc. at link.)

Sharks open at home (vs Kings) on October 12 and finish the season at home hosting the Flames.

There are 16 back-to-backs.  Two home-and-home; 3 away-home, 2 home-away and nine on the road.

The Sharks have 18 road trips (41 games), traveling 50.1k miles (think air miles only).  Average flight is 849 miles (min 6, max 2505).  Nine 1-game trips.  Three 2-game trips, and three 4-game trips. And one each 3-game, 5-game and 6-game trips.  (One weird trip:  Dallas-Minnesota-Dallas-Nashville — what’s with the going to same place twice on the same trip?)

Sharks have nineteen home stands.  Seven 1-game home stands.  Seven 2-game home stands. Three 3-game home stands.  One 5-game home stand and one 6-game home stand.

The Sharks average nearly 53 hours between games. Minimum time between games is 23 hours.  Maximum is 145.5 hours.


Summer thoughts: goalies

OK, we’re in the off season.  Time to think about what the roster moves might be.

First up: the goalies.

This is a key position for any team.  The Sharks historically have 5-6 goalies under contract for depth: 2 in NHL, 2 in AHL and 1-2 in ECHL.

Sharks/Barracuda have the following goalies under contract (in approximate depth chart order) for 2016-17 (with year(s) remaining):

  • Martin Jones (2 years left)
  • Troy Grosenick (1 year left)
  • Mantas Armalis (1 year ELS)
  • Jamie Murray (1 year, AHL)

In the depth chart (not signed):

  • Frederik Bergvik (defected)
  • John Kupsky (college; scheduled graduation ’19)
  • Mike Robinson (college; scheduled graduation ’20)

UFAs include:

  • James Reimer
  • Aaron Dell (group VI)

And Joel Rumpel (RFA).
UPDATE: Rumpel not QO’d

Sharks need to have one goalie (either signed through 2017-18 or pending RFA in 2018) exposed in the (anticipated) expansion draft next June, and can protect only one goalie.  Armalis, Kupsky and Robinson are all exempt from expansion draft (Rumpel too if he’s re-signed); technically, on an AHL deal Murray is not exempt, but for all practical purposes is.  Jones is the protected guy from my prospective.

Dell surpassed Grosenick in the depth chart this year.

There are no pending RFAs in 2018 based on the current depth chart, unless it’s exposing Rumpel or similar.  (Grosenick will be a UFA after his contract expires.)

My guess is that the Sharks re-sign Dell to a two year deal as their exposed goalie for the expansion draft (at a reasonable cap hit even).  He’d be pencilled in as Jones’ backup. Armalis and Grosenick would be in AHL and Murray in ECHL.

While Reimer might be an interesting re-signing, he’d probably demand near starter $$s and may prefer finding a starting role elsewhere.  (The Sharks might be able to trade his rights for a pick.)

Hitting a brick wall (SCF game 6 recap)

Well, the Sharks gave it their all, but fell short.  And the NHL season comes to an end.

Game 6 pregame thoughts

The Sharks wrote new history: winning the Western Conference, and two wins away from winning the Stanley Cup.  They made it past the Kings (Beat LA), the Predators (Smashed Nash) and (Silenced) the Blues.

While sad for Shark fans, there are 28 other teams that wish they could have played this late into June.  For their accomplishment, they’ll be picking 29th in each round (that they have a pick), plus a few additional picks acquired along the way.

The Sharks were without Tomas Hertl (leg), and many others dealing with injuries (three days later and still waiting for full list of injuries and their severity). Lack of the offense Hertl provided was one of the keys to not winning in the fourth round (and only scoring first in one game). Hearing Nieto skated through SCF with broken ribs (ouch).

This season proved to the fans that this version of the Sharks is worth supporting.  After a few early non-sell out playoff games, the later rounds were full sell outs.  Now to see if the Tank returns to full capacity in the fall.  Even Bettman complimented the San Jose fans on their volume of sound in the Finals (as they did a pretty good job of drowning him out as he awarded the Stanley Cup).

Jones proved his worth – well beyond the first round pick.  And the fans have found a supportive chant for him (“Jonesy”). He has convinced folks that he is the real deal, so the pre-season question mark about him is replaced with a big check mark.

Couture really stepped up this post season, providing leadership and offense.  His addition after missing so much of the season with two significant injuries really helped the Sharks surprise the Western Conference with their tenacity and offense.What will the 2016-17 season hold?  A lot will depend on who’s in the lineup for the season opener (and the rest of the season). Will the Sharks participating in the World Cup come back to California tired or invigorated and ready for the regular season? And injuries, puck luck.  But I think you can fill in (in pen) making playoffs as an expectation.

Sharks vs Penguins Stanley Cup Final Game 6 160612

Sharks are now 2-0 in elimination games this season.  And there’s a reason for hope: Penguins have a history of choking.

Game 5 pregame thoughts

Before game 5, DeBoer informed the media that the Sharks were motivated to make all those present get on a plane to San Jose for game 6.  And the Sharks wives and girl friends were at the game.  Plus, they denied the Penguins a chance to be the first Pittsburgh franchise to win a championship at home since 1960.

Whatever the motivation, the Sharks scored two fast ones, only to have the Penguins tie it up quickly (setting a NHL record for fasted four goals in SCF).  But the Sharks got the tie breaker about ten minutes later, which ended up being the game winner.  (Sharks now 9-0 in playoffs when leading after 40 minutes.)

The Sharks had their first lead(s) of the SCF.

Here’s hoping and praying that the Sharks have gotten past their jitters and mental blocks so they are able to play hard, get the bounces and add another win to force a game 7.

Pregame 6 pump up playlist


Sharks @ Penguins Stanley Cup Final Game 5 160609

The Sharks lose another game, now behind in the series 1-3.  It’s elimination time: win to extend season, or head home for the summer.

Game 4 pregame thoughts

Pens scored first again; and got the only PP goal of the game.  Sharks managed one goal, to avoid being shut out. Seems like Pittsburgh is able to counter the Sharks dump and chase better than the Sharks have been able to adjust to the Pens speed and scramble, taking advantage of the little mistakes.

The Sharks won’t be able to count on their power play with the officials keeping their whistles in their pockets for most of the game.

Pens will be inspired to win their fourth Stanley Cup; the previous three have been won on the road, so it would have special meaning to clinch at home.

But the Sharks would like to score first (hasn’t happened yet in the series), as well as have a lead (they haven’t had one of those either).  Pavelski and Burns have not scored a goal this series.

Hertl is still listed as “day to day” (which per DeBoer in Czech means he’s lost for the season; lol).  Everyone’s playing banged up; it’s just an issue of who can perform the best.

The last team to come back and win the Stanley Cup after being down 1-3 was more than sixty years ago.  Sharks have an up hill battle, but they seem to play their best when considered the under dog.

Hope to see game 6 live on Sunday.

Pregame pump up play list