Couture in two NHL All-Star skills events

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Couture in two NHL All-Star skills events

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Sharks center Logan Couture will take part in the NHL Skills competition Saturday night in the Breakaway and Relay challenges. The rosters for each were announced Friday as part of hockey's annual midseason showcase.

RELATED: Couture picked last, takes it in stride

TEAM CHARA Breakaway Challenge roster:
Rookie: Ryan Johansen
All-Star: Patrick Kane
All-Star: Corey Perry
Goalie: Carey Price
TEAM ALFREDSSON Breakaway Challenge roster:
Rookie: Sean Couturier
All-Star: John Tavares
All-Star: Logan Couture
Goalie: Brian Elliott

Breakaway Challenge format
The Breakaway Challenge involves one player mixing skill and creativity on a breakaway attempt on a goaltender. The event differs from a penalty shot in that a skater can start from anywhere in the offensive zone.

The three shooters will be made up of two All-Stars and one rookie, while each team will also select one goalie.

TEAM ALFREDSSON Relay Challenge roster:
One-timer passer: Nick Johnson
One-timer right-handed: Shea Weber
One-timer right-handed: Kris Letang
One-timer right-handed: Steven Stamkos
Passing accuracy: Henrik Sedin
Puck control: Milan Michalek
Stick handling: Logan Couture
Target shooter: James Neal
One-timer passer: Alex Edler
One-timer left-handed: Keith Yandle
One-timer left-handed: Scott Hartnell
One-timer left-handed: John Tavares
Passing accuracy: Daniel Sedin
Puck control: Craig Smith
Stick handling: Claude Giroux
Target shooter: Jason Pominville

TEAM CHARA Relay Challenge roster:
One-timer passer: Ryan Suter
One-timer right-handed: Dennis Wideman
One-timer right-handed: Jarome Iginla
One-timer right-handed: Joffrey Lupul
Passing accuracy: Patrick Kane
Puck control: Pavel Datsyuk
Stick handling: Gabriel Landeskog
Target shooter: Marian Gaborik
One-timer passer: Jordan Eberle
One-timer left-handed: Dion Phaneuf
One-timer left-handed: Zdeno Chara
One-timer left-handed: Jamie Benn
Passing accuracy: Kimmo Timonen
Puck control: Raphael Diaz
Stick handling: Evgeni Malkin
Target shooter: Phil Kessel

Skills Challenge Relay format
The event puts 14 All-Stars and two rookies from each team together.

The competition combines a variety of skills into five successive events. A one-timer event starts it off with three shooters and one passer needing to score three goals over an eight-inch barrier. Once completed, a different player must complete a pass into six nets placed around the rink to keep things going.

Next, a player must navigate a series of cones while controlling the puck before another skater stick-handles the puck through a series of obstacles.

In the accuracy portion, a shooter aims at four targets. Two groups from each team go through the entire relay, with the fastest squad in each heat getting a point and the fastest combined time getting a bonus point.

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic will compete in the upcoming IIHF World Championships for Team Canada, it was announced on Friday.

The tournament runs from May 5-21 in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany. 

Vlasic, 30, a native of Montreal, has played in the tournament twice before in 2009 and 2012. He also represented Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games, helping it to a gold medal, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which Canada also captured.

In 75 games with the Sharks this season, Vlasic posted 28 points (6g, 22a) and a +4 rating. He was second on the team in shorthanded time on ice (2:04 per game) and blocked shots (146).

A pending restricted free agent in 2018, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson called getting Vlasic signed to a long-term deal an offseason priority for the club. The two sides can begin negotiations on July 1.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” Wilson said. “[He] is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

The Sharks lost in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to Edmonton, although Vlasic and partner Justin Braun helped to keep Connor McDavid in check at even strength. The league's leading scorer had just one even strength point in the six-game series, an empty net goal with less than one second left in Game 6.

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

SAN JOSE – The Sharks didn’t make any blockbuster moves last summer, content to make another run in 2016-17 with largely the same group that came within two wins of capturing the Stanley Cup.

They still acquired a notable player, though, when Mikkel Boedker was signed on July 1 to add an element that the Sharks knew they needed more of moving forward – speed. Boedker was expected to make the team faster, after the Sharks were exposed for not having enough of that against Pittsburgh in the NHL’s final round, as well as play in a top six role. 

At the time, it was hailed as a slick, under-the-radar move that wasn’t going to change the dynamic of the club but could help push it over the top.

When Boedker was a healthy scratch in games three and four of the first round against Edmonton, the evidence became clear, though, that this was a decision that fell flat on its face. 

Frankly, Boedker – who is signed for three more years with a $4 million salary cap hit – brings back visions of Sharks bust Marty Havlat. You know the skill is there, but the desire to use it on a nightly basis while showing any semblance of a battle level is lacking. 

Should the Sharks give Boedker another chance next season, or should they do everything in their power to try and move him? That’s a question that will likely be debated in the front office over the next several weeks.

On get-away day on Monday, indications were that the Sharks were planning on sticking with the 27-year-old, who finished with 26 points in the regular season (10g, 16a) and added one goal and one assist in four games in the playoffs.

“He has the things we’re looking for: his career scoring average, his speed, [penalty killing] ability,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “Did he meet the expectations that he had for himself [or] that we had for him? No. Can we get that out of him? Pete [DeBoer] believes we can.”

DeBoer has known Boedker since he played for him in 2007-08 in Kitchener (OHL). Despite scratching him in the playoffs, DeBoer said he saw “huge improvement” in Boedker throughout the course of the season after the forward spent nearly all of his NHL career in Arizona.

“There was an adjustment. He’s played 6-7 years a certain way in the NHL,” DeBoer said. “We’ve asked him to play differently here, and there was an adjustment.”

Boedker still believes that he can be a fit in San Jose.

“I think it will be and it can be,” he said. “It’s learning period, but you’ve also got to look in the mirror yourself and see what you can change and what assets you need to bring. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m ready to do that.”

The list of Sharks depth forwads that had frustrating seasons hardly begins and ends with Boedker, though.

Veteran Joel Ward’s production dipped from 43 points last season to 29 in 2016-17, although that probably isn’t too surprising considering he’s 36. Tomas Hertl is proving to be a streaky player, too, although his season was interrupted by another a knee injury.

The bigger disappointment came from players like Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, who both made big impressions in the 2016 playoffs but struggled to produce consistent offense this year. Both were mentioned by name by DeBoer on Monday.

There are some promising youngsters in the pipeline like Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen, but it’s still too early to project any of them as can’t-miss scorers at the NHL level.

“I think we’ve got a large group of guys that I like, but need to step up,” DeBoer said. “Is Sorensen [like] Donskoi next year, where he takes a step back, or [does he take a] step forward? We’ve got a lot of guys that there’s a lot of potential there – Chris Tierney. 

“There’s a lot of those guys, but they need to have big summers and take a step, and show that they’re not just one season or one month players.”