Draisaitl: Spearing Sharks forward Tierney 'a stupid play'

Draisaitl: Spearing Sharks forward Tierney 'a stupid play'

EDMONTON – While the Sharks are probably not pleased that Leon Draisaitl escaped suspension for his spear to the groin of Chris Tierney in Game 4, perhaps there’s one benefit to Draisaitl being in the lineup for Thursday’s Game 5.

That is, they can hit him back.

Of course, getting revenge on Draisaitl for his dirty play isn’t something that’s going to be at the forefront of their minds in a playoff series that’s tied at two games apiece. This isn’t a situation like last year, when Pete DeBoer dressed Micheal Haley for the express purpose of fighting Darnell Nurse, after Nurse pummeled Roman Polak for no reason in the previous meeting.

As much as Tierney or some others would surely love to finish their hits on the talented Oilers forward, they have bigger goals in mind, like winning Game 5 and earning a chance to clinch the series at home on Saturday.

“I think we just play our game. It’s playoff hockey,” Tierney said. “We’re focused on wins right now, not about getting somebody back or looking for revenge.”

When asked for his comment on the decision by the NHL to fine Draisaitl, Tierney said: “They obviously did what they felt was right, and hopefully he doesn’t do that anymore. Obviously it’s a dangerous play, and it’s something you don’t want in the game and you don’t want to see, so hopefully it’s the last time he does that.”

Draisaitl also spoke about the play, which earned him a five-minute major and game misconduct in the second period.

“It was a stupid play,” said the 21-year-old. “That’s not who I am. It’s not me. That’s not how I want to be seen as a player. I think everyone knows I am the last guy who wants hurt anyone, or play that type of game. I know it was a bad play by me.”

Oilers coach Todd McLellan backed his young player, too, pointing out that Draisaitl had just 20 penalty minutes in 82 regular season games this season.

“It doesn’t represent him as a player. He could probably be up for the Lady Byng the way he played this year and the amount of points he produced and lack of penalties that he took,” McLellan said. “I don’t think you can paint him with that brush. He made a mistake, he’s paying for it, and we move on."

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.

Thornton, Marleau now permitted to speak with other teams

Thornton, Marleau now permitted to speak with other teams

Their futures with the Sharks more uncertain than ever, pending unrestricted free agents Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are now free to take calls from other teams to gauge their potential interest.

Nothing can be signed with a new team before July 1, and there is a ban on discussing terms of any potential deal. Teams have already reached out to Marleau, per TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, while Thornton is also reportedly receiving interest around the league.

While they could still return to the Sharks, it’s new territory for both, as neither Thornton nor Marleau has ever tested the unrestricted free agent waters. Most recently, they agreed to three-year contract extensions with the Sharks on the same day – Jan. 24, 2014 – in what was the final year of their current deals.

Whether they return to the Sharks could depend on the length of the deal. If other teams are willing to offer multiple-year deals to Thornton and Marleau, it makes their return to the Sharks less likely – particularly in Marleau’s case. Earlier in the offseason, NBC Sports California confirmed that Thornton was seeking a three-year deal, while Marleau preferred a deal of at least three years.

General manager Doug Wilson’s top priority this offseason is to re-sign goalie Martin Jones and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long term extensions. Those contracts would likely cost the team a combined $12-14 million, and would begin in the 2018-19 season.

There is an added risk to any team that signs a player over the age of 35, as it would be on the hook for the entire salary cap hit regardless of whether that player is active (unless that player is on long-term injured reserve). 

Thornton turns 38 on Sunday, while Marleau turns 38 on Sep. 15.