NHL Draft preview: Sharks' focus is defense

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NHL Draft preview: Sharks' focus is defense

June 23, 2011SHARKS PAGE SHARKSVIDEO
NHL PAGE

Ryan OHalloranCSNWashington.com

MINNEAPOLIS Even though Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told reporters earlier this week he had talked to each of his 29 colleagues about trading draft picks or players, he undoubtedly wasnt as busy as Philadelphia counterpart Paul Holmgren.

The NHL Draft weekend got off to a rousing start Thursday in the Twin Cities when Holmgren changed the look of the Flyers and the complexion of the Pacific Division.

In three separate transactions, Holmgren dealt captain Mike Richards to Los Angeles for Braydon Schenn and Wayne Simmonds; traded Richards best friend, Jeff Carter, to Columbus; and signed goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, 51 million contract.

The Sharks certainly took notice of the Kings acquiring a heart-and-soul player like Richards, who theyll have to deal with six times per season, starting with the teams Nov. 7 meeting.

Unless Wilson or another GM drops another bombshell, the focus is likely to return to the first round, which starts Friday night in St. Paul.

The Sharks have the 28th pick for the second straight year.

RATTO: Expecting a hyperactive NHL Draft

According to various scouting outlets, the Sharks should be targeting defense for the short- and long-term.

A survey of five mock drafts had the Sharks taking five different players: Oshawa forward Nicklas Jensen, Victoriaville left winger Phillip Danault, Northeastern University defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, Ottawa center Shane Prince or Saint John right winger Tomas Jurco.

Jensen and Jurco represent one of the storylines of this draft in general and the first round in particular: European-born skaters coming to major junior hockey in North America.

Joining Jensen (scouts love that the native of Denmark can play all three forward positions) and Jurco (57 goals in two years for the Slovakian) in that group are Gabriel Landeskog (Sweden), Sven Baerstchi (Switzerland) Alexander Khokhlachev (Russia), Rickard Rakell (Sweden), Tomas Jurco (Slovakia) and Christopher Gibson (Finland).

I hope so, Landeskog said of more European players coming over. It can be a good thing for players all over Europe to move over here and try the life. Having said that, its not the best thing for everybody. Prospect Adam Larsson is a great example of staying home and succeeding.

Back in the day, it was rare for a European player to try the rigors of major junior hockey, a game that is more physical and played on a smaller rink ice surface and a season that could stretch to nearly 85 games.

But those challenges havent scared many top prospects.

Only five Europeans went in last years first round and two played major junior. That number figures to grow during Fridays opening round in St. Paul, Minn.

Larsson, a 6-foot-3 defenseman who opted to stay at home to play, will likely be the first European off the board, perhaps as early as No. 2 to Colorado.

Landeskog could be gone in the top five after putting up seasons of 46 and 66 points for Kitchener and becoming the teams first European-born captain.

I didnt really plan anything like this, he said. I thought it was the best thing for my development and looking back, it was the right decision. I didnt only develop as a player but as a person, I matured a lot.

But things didnt start out great. Even though he speaks fluent English, there were growing pains early.

My first half of my first season wasnt great, Landeskog said. I had a lot of tough times, a couple of slumps and I didnt know how to handle them. But thats what my goals were to learn how to handle all that and other situations.

RELATED: Sharks sign Setoguchi to three-year deal

Baerstchi followed countryman Nino Niederreiters route leaving Switzerland to play for Portland of the Western Hockey League. Niederreiter went fifth overall to the Islanders last year. Baerstchi arrived last fall and totaled 85 points in 66 games.

The coaches helped me a lot and the whole team did its not easy to come from the big rink to the small rink, he said. I hit the boards a couple times.

Baerstchi said he felt comfortable right away. The first time on the ice with those guys, I felt great an after a couple weeks. I really got used to it and was right into the North American style.

Although the Europeans have gathered momentum, its a Canadian who is expected to go first. Edmonton is likely to choose center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first, the first player from British Columbia to be the No. 1 overall pick.

Nugent-Hopkins would join last years first pick, Taylor Hall, on a young Oilers team in rebuild mode.

I just want to go to a team that wants me there, he said. Going to Edmonton would be great because theyre such a good, talented team and has promise for the future.

Blach only lasts three innings as Giants get mashed by Mets in loss

Blach only lasts three innings as Giants get mashed by Mets in loss

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Yoenis Cespedes had three hits including a two-run homer and Lucas Duda had three hits including a solo blast as the New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 11-4 on Friday night.

The win snapped the Mets' four-game losing streak. They had lost seven of eight.

The Giants have lost 10 of their last 11 games, 12 of their last 14 and 19 of their last 24.

Along with Cespedes and Duda, Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto all had three hits.

After being held to five runs over their last three games, the Mets broke out their hitting slump, combining for 20 hits.

All but one Mets starter (Jose Reyes) had at least one hit and all but two (Reyes and Cabrera) drove in at least one run.

Seth Lugo (2-1) won for the third time in his last four starts. He gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings and was 1 for 2 with one RBI.

Gorkys Hernandez hit a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the sixth off Lugo that spoiled his bid for a fifth straight quality start.

Cespedes' ninth homer of the season highlighted a six-run second inning in which the Mets sent 10 batters to the plate.

Cespedes had a double in the sixth that highlighted a three-run inning.

In 13 games since coming off the disabled list Cespedes is 17 for 43 with seven extra-base hits including three home runs.

He's 8 for 18 with three home runs in his last four games at AT&T Park going back to last season.

Ty Blach (4-5) gave up seven runs in three innings. He's 0-3 with a 6.84 ERA in his last five starts.

Cabrera was activated from the disabled list and inserted into the New York Mets' starting lineup at second base rather than shortstop and he said he wants to be traded. Cabrera had three hits Friday night.

The 31-year-old, a two-time All-Star and a veteran of 11 big league seasons, had not started at second since Sept. 28, 2014. The Mets started Jose Reyes at shortstop against San Francisco on Friday night and Wilmer Flores at third.

TRANSACTIONS:

Mets: Second-round draft selection Mark Vientos signed out of high school for a $1.5 million signing bonus. The infielder was the 59th overall selection in this year's draft. . The Mets also signed their third- and fifth-round picks, OF Quinn Brodey and 1B/OF Matt Winaker (both from Stanford). . Brodey signed for a $500,000 bonus and Winaker for $280,000.

Giants: LHP Bryan Morris was designated for assignment and Steven Okert was called up from Triple-A Sacramento.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner (separated left shoulder) threw 45 pitches in a simulated game on Wednesday at the team's spring training complex in Scottsdale, Arizona. . Utilityman Eduardo Nunez went on the 10-day DL with a hamstring injury. The Giants activated 3B Conor Gillaspie (back spasms).

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Jacob deGrom (6-3, 394 ERA) has allowed one earned run over 17 innings in his last two starts. He's 3-1 with a 3.62 ERA in five career starts against the Giants. San Francisco RHP Johnny Cueto (5-7, 4.42) is 1-6 with a 4.13 ERA in his last nine starts. He's 4-4 with a 3.75 ERA in 12 career starts against the Mets

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's skid-snapping win over White Sox

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's skid-snapping win over White Sox

BOX SCORE

The A’s six-game road trip got off to a promising start Friday as they try to reverse their fortunes away from Oakland.

Jharel Cotton shined over five innings before leaving because of a blister on his right hand, and the bullpen took care of things from there to complete a 3-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

Considering the A’s came in just 9-25 on the road so far, this was the rare occurrence of them taking control early and staying in control while wearing the road grays. Now the A’s just hope the victory didn’t come with a steep price.

In addition to Cotton (5-7) leaving after a blister opened up on his right thumb, shortstop Chad Pinder left with a strained left hamstring. The severity of that injury wasn’t immediately known.

Here’s five things you need to know from the opener of this three-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field:

-- Davis hits No. 19: Khris Davis gave Cotton some early cushion with a two-run homer off Mike Pelfrey (3-6) to center field in the first. It was Davis’ team-leading 19th long ball, but just his third in 22 games this month.

-- Another solid outing for rookie: Coming off a strong 6 1/3-inning outing against the New York Yankees, Cotton again looked in control Friday before having to leave. The right-hander held the Sox to three hits over his five innings, striking out three and walking one. It’s unknown whether the blister will affect his availability for his next start, but the A’s learned with Rich Hill last season how nagging a blister can be for a starter.

-- Ninth-inning nerves: The final score didn’t indicate how tense things got for Oakland in the ninth. Closer Santiago Casilla gave up two singles to start the inning. After Avisail Garcia flied out, Todd Frazier hit a pop up behind first. Yonder Alonso couldn’t haul it in and the ball dropped, but Alonso alertly threw to second to get a force out. Then Matt Davidson sent a deep fly ball to center that Jaycob Brugman hauled in at the warning track.

--- Joyce powers up: In the fifth, Matt Joyce lit into a 3-2 pitch from Pelfrey and homered to center field to put the A’s ahead 3-0. It was the ninth homer for Joyce, who continues to provide some of the spark the A’s are looking for in the leadoff spot.

-- A double ejection: : White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson and manager Rick Renteria both were ejected for arguing a fifth-inning play after Anderson hit a dribbler near home plate that surprised him by being called fair.