Couture survives injury scare

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Couture survives injury scare

VANCOUVER For a moment, it appeared that disaster had struck the San Jose Sharks.

When Logan Couture blocked a Keith Ballard wrist shot in the first period with his knee, the 22-year-old sniper was having trouble putting any weight on his right side. He struggled to make it to the bench, and was eventually helped to the locker room.

It didnt look good.

The organization breathed a sigh of relief when Coutures absence was just temporary, though, as he returned just a few minutes later.

It wasnt even a hard shot. It just got me in a tough spot, said Couture, after the game. It went numb for a minute and a half or two minutes, and I was fine. Just a stinger.

I tried to get up and went in a circle because I couldnt put any weight on my other leg. As soon as I got into the dressing room and sat down, the feeling came back and I felt fine.

Chances are the Sharks fans watching at home were more concerned than Todd McLellan. At least, thats the picture the coach painted after the game.

We knew it was a blocked shot. When a guy ends up getting twisted up or tangled with somebody you dont know if its a knee or an ankle or anything like that, but we knew it was a blocked shot, McLellan said. Usually that gets you in a bad spot, and you can come back and play.

Hes a very, very important guy on our team and we were glad he could make it back.

Important is an understatement. Couture has eight points in his last eight games, including an assist on Monday in Vancouver, and leads the team with 16 goals. Hes been the teams most consistent forward since the middle of October, and he may be the Sharks most indispensable player.

Coutures block was one of 24 on the night for San Jose, as opposed to just seven for the Canucks.

Youve got to block shots. Everybodys doing it, he said. You have to make it tough for pucks to get through to the goalie, and thats something weve gotten better at is helping Antti Niemi out.

Couture was seen in the locker room with an ice pack on the knee after the game, but the win over the team that eliminated the Sharks from the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring helped to dull the pain.

It feels great, actually, Couture said. Its just a little swollen. It will be fine tomorrow.

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

The mere thought of Joe Thornton wearing a Kings sweater may be enough to cause some Sharks fans to lose their lunch.

But it might be a possibility.

According to LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen, the Kings consider Thornton to be a “priority” should be hit the open market as a free agent. While the two sides are currently allowed to express mutual interest, NHL rules forbid them from discussing terms of any deal until Saturday at 9 a.m. PT.

Rosen points to a number of individuals in the Kings' organization that have ties to Thornton, including general manager Rob Blake, who played on the Sharks with Thornton from 2008-10. Mike O’Connell was Thornton’s general manager in Boston and currently serves as the Kings’ senior advisor to the general manager. Glen Murray, a former teammate and frequent linemate of Thornton’s with the Bruins for three-and-a-half seasons, is in Kings player development.

The Kings, under new management since replacing Dean Lombardi with Blake, and head coach Darryl Sutter with John Stevens, have put a priority on finding players this offseason that can get pucks to dangerous scoring areas. 

Adding one of the best passers in the history of the NHL would surely help in that regard. Thornton sits 13th in the NHL all-time with 1,007 assists.

Rosen writes: “Los Angeles has been a dominant possession team without being a high scoring team for the better part of the last six-plus seasons, and it was articulated earlier in the off-season that the team needed to do a better job of taking advantage of that possession discrepancy. In trying to find players with the ability to turn possession into actual production, the team has placed an emphasis on finding players capable of distributing the puck into high-danger in the attacking zone. There might not be another player in the NHL – let alone unrestricted free agents – who is as gifted of a passer of Thornton, which places the team’s needs in concert with the future Hall of Famer’s skill set.”

As reported here previously Thornton, who turns 38 on Sunday, is seeking a deal of three years. That might not be agreeable to the Sharks, who are likely to sign Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long-term and expensive contract extensions that would kick in with the 2018-19 season.

Of course, Thornton could also be using the Kings as leverage to get a new deal in San Jose, where he would prefer to remain.

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

The Sharks have issued qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Chris Tierney, Marcus Sorensen and Barclay Goodrow, while cutting ties with three players in the system.

Tierney, 22, posted 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 80 games last season, serving primarily as the fourth line center. He has 64 points (24g, 40a) in 202 career games over three NHL seasons, all with the Sharks.

Sorensen posted one goal and three assists in 19 games with the Sharks last season, his first in the NHL. The 25-year-old played in all six playoff games against Edmonton, scoring one goal and one assist.

Goodrow, 24, skated in three games for the Sharks last season with one assist. He has 16 points (4g, 12a) in 77 games over three seasons with the Sharks, although has played in just 17 NHL games since the start of the 2015-16 season.

Forward Nikita Jevpalovs, defenseman Patrick McNally and goalie Mantas Armalis - also known for his career as a male model - were left unqualified and are now unrestricted free agents.

Earlier in the offseason, the Sharks signed pending restricted free agents Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. Donskoi received a two-year deal at a salary cap hit of $1.9 million, while Karlsson was signed to a three-year deal at $2 million annually.