Early goal not enough for Sharks in 2-1 loss to Wild

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Early goal not enough for Sharks in 2-1 loss to Wild

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SAN JOSE Logan Couture would have been thrilled for Wild rookie goaltender Matt Hackett under any other circumstance.Hackett, making his first career appearance in an NHL game, stopped all 34 shots he faced in relief of Josh Harding in leading Minnesota to a 2-1 victory over the Sharks on Tuesday night at HP Pavilion. Couture and Hackett grew up just a few houses down from one another in Guelph, Ontario.Numerous times this summer and last summer I said he was going to play in the NHL and he was going to be a good NHL goalie, and hes got a bright future ahead of him, said Couture.

That was on display as the Sharks jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on Harding, only to be shut down the rest of the way by Hackett when Harding was knocked out of the game early in the first period. Minnesota survived an early onslaught by the Sharks, who jumped out to a whopping 16-0 advantage in shots on goal and 1-0 lead early in the first period. A pair of goals later in the first by the Wild, though, ended up being all of the the scoring for the game.The biggest disappointment for the Sharks, other than the defeat, may be that they wasted the strong start they were looking for in rebounding from a poor effort in Saturdays 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers. Not only did San Jose put 42 shots on net, but the Sharks missed the net 18 times and had 33 shots blocked, for a whopping 93 attempts total.Obviously, it was a better effort. The execution was a bit better besides the fact that we didnt finish like we wanted, said Ryane Clowe. The opportunities that we got were because of some good plays.Todd McLellan, who punished the Sharks by canceling a day off after the loss to Florida, was also more pleased with his teams effort.Theres some frustration. You can feel it on the bench and in the locker room, because tonight the work ethic was a lot better than it was against Florida the other night, said the coach. We played a lot crisper and a lot sharper, but we werent rewarded for it. There are still things we need to work on that we have to get better in, but our overall game improved and thats a good sign.One obvious aspect that needs work continues to be the penalty kill, and special teams in general. Leading 1-0, the Sharks had a golden opportunity to increase their lead when Cody Almond was whistled for high-sticking Joe Thornton at 10:45 of the first period.San Jose had some good looks at the net, and did a good job creating havoc around the goal crease, but was unable to capitalize. Clowe had perhaps the best chance, but he fanned on a one-time attempt from the slot. The Sharks are just 1-for-14 on the power play in the last four games.Couture said: We created some chances. Obviously you want to score when you have four minutes, and I thought we did create some positive momentum, but unfortunately they came back and scored one.Less than three minutes after the Sharks extended power play ended, the Wild tied it up, and it was former Shark Dany Heatley who helped create the equalizer. A subtle dip of his shoulder dropped Dan Boyle to the ice, and Heatley skated around him cutting towards the slot. He fired a shot that Antti Niemi stopped, but Mikko Koivu was there to deposit the rebound.The Sharks' penalty kill, which entered the game last in the league both at home and overall, faltered in surrendering what turned out to be the game-winning goal at 19:48 of the first.A trip to Torrey Mitchell at 19:11 of the first gave the Wild their first power play of the game, and they capitalized. Pierre-Marc Bouchard fired a one-timer on a cross-ice pass from Koivu under the right arm of Niemi, who was moving from his left to his right.We got a little sloppy in front of the net for a little bit in the first and they had a few chances, said Boyle. Otherwise, they play a pretty patient game. They dont come at you with a lot of heat. They force you make mistakes. We knew it was going to be a low scoring game, but youre not going to win too many games scoring one goal.Hackett, the nephew of former Sharks goalie Jeff Hackett, entered the game just 1:11 into the first period after Harding was inadvertently elbowed by his own teammate, Nick Schultz. The Wild defenseman was trying to hold off a charging Joe Pavelski after Patrick Marleau threw one on net, when he bowled over Harding. The Sharks led 1-0 at the time.That goal came at the one-minute mark when a Boyle shot on Harding bounced out to the slot, where Pavelski spun around and whacked it in.The Sharks kept coming in waves as the period progressed, but Hackett made good saves on a blast by Brent Burns about four minutes into the game, and Jim Vandermeer a few minutes later.Could we have got it to 2-0 or 3-0? That would have been probably what we needed, obviously, said McLellan.It didnt happen, though, as the Sharks have now lost four of their last five games courtesy of Coutures childhood friend.Great kid, but I didnt like what he did to us tonight, said Couture.Odds and ends: Matt Hackett was dressed only because regular starter Niklas Backstrom is recovering from a groin injury. Douglas Murray did not play, recovering from a right hand injury. Justin Braun took his place in the lineup, while Colin White was scratched. The Sharks won the faceoff battle for the ninth straight game, 31-26. Todd McLellan bumped Patrick Marleau from the top line to the third line, while putting Brad Winchester with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski for much of the third period. Former Shark Devin Setoguchi suffered an apparent lower body in the game and played just 2:51. San Jose has not won a regulation game since Nov. 23, a 1-0 win over Chicago.

Sharks have bevy of young defensemen to replace Schlemko

Sharks have bevy of young defensemen to replace Schlemko

CHICAGO – If there were a best-case scenario for the Sharks regarding the expansion draft, it probably would have been the Vegas Golden Knights selecting Mikkel Boedker, and the three years and $12 million remaining on his contract.

Instead, the Golden Knights swiped David Schlemko. While the 30-year-old was a nice third pair defenseman in his only year with the Sharks, it was probably the second-best case from San Jose’s perspective. The team should be able to fill the vacancy internally without too much difficulty. Schlemko had two goals and 18 points in 62 games last season, and has three years left on his contract at $2.1 million annually.

“I think it’s worked out well for all parties involved,” said general manager Doug Wilson. “You go into expansion, you know you’re going to lose a player. David came in and played well for us. We signed him as a free agent, so we didn’t have to give up an asset to get him. So, we think we moved through the expansion phase with the good young players coming in that are ready to play and compete for that spot. That’s probably as good as we could have expected to come out of expansion, in that position.”

If there are no other major moves on the Sharks’ blue line this offseason, the spot to play alongside Brenden Dillon will be there for the taking in training camp. There’s no reason, of course, to break up the top four of Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Justin Braun, and Brent Burns-Paul Martin.

Dylan DeMelo would figure to have the inside track on the job, but there are others like Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan, each of whom signed two-year contract extensions on June 17. They served as the AHL Barracuda’s top defense pair for most of the season.

The 24-year-old Ryan, a sixth round pick in 2012, posted 10 goals and 49 points in 65 games last season in the AHL. He was recalled once by the Sharks but did not play. Heed, 26, is an offensive defenseman that tallied 14 goals and 56 points in 55 games with the Barracuda and played in one game with the Sharks on Jan. 11 in Calgary. Ryan is a left-handed shot; Heed, like Schlemko and DeMelo, shoots right.

Regarding Ryan, Wilson said: “He’s right on track. He’s the type of guy that – if you look around the league at the number of young defensemen that are making an impact – he thinks and plays the game the right way.”

“Watching [Ryan and Heed] play together, I would say they were arguably the best defense pair in the AHL last year.”

There are other defensemen to monitor, too. The Sharks signed soon-to-be 25-year-old Czech Radim Simek to a one-year contract on May 23, beating out several of other NHL teams to acquire his services. 

“He’s a puck-moving guy,” Wilson said. “He’s got a little bite to him, too. Not tall, but thick and strong. We think he’s a guy that has the skill set to step right in and play. We’ll see how much time it takes him to adjust to the smaller rink.”

And don’t forget about Jeremy Roy, either. The first pick of the second round in the deep 2015 draft (31st overall), Roy is expected to join the organization next season, likely starting his pro career with the Barracuda after recovering from a significant knee injury that ended his junior season in late October.

“He had a major repair, but he’s back healthy,” Wilson said. “We’ll see him this summer, and he’s a puck-moving guy. … Injuries you can’t control, but we have high expectations for Jeremy.”

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Vegas shipped Schlemko to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday for a fifth round pick in the 2019 draft.

Sharks prepare for 2017 NHL Draft with eight picks in hand

Sharks prepare for 2017 NHL Draft with eight picks in hand

CHICAGO – The glass-half-full observer looks at Sharks’ recent draft record and sees some late round picks that could be on the cusp of making the NHL on a full time basis. 

Defenseman Joakim Ryan (7th round, 2012), center Danny O’Regan (5th round, 2012) and forward Kevin Labanc (6th round, 2014) have all exceeded expectations so far. Dylan DeMelo (6th round, 2011) could also be included in that group.

The glass-half-empty observer, though, sees that the Sharks have traded away a pair of recent first rounders that didn’t pan out. Nikolay Goldobin (27th overall, 2014) was dealt to Vancouver in late February for Jannik Hansen and a fourth round pick, while Mirco Mueller (18th overall, 2013) is off to New Jersey for a pair of picks in this year’s draft.

It’s all part of the uncertainty of selecting what are mostly teenagers in the annual NHL Entry Draft, which takes place at Chicago’s United Center this weekend. The Sharks’ first pick during Friday night’s first round sits at 19th overall, and they have seven more selections on Saturday when rounds two-through-seven take place.

Doug Wilson is used to picking in the mid-to-late first round, as the Sharks have missed the playoffs just once under his 14-year watch.

“I think we always take the best player available,” he said. “I think it’s a good draft. … We feel pretty comfortable at 19 we’ll get a pretty good player.”

The Sharks have never selected 19th, and Wilson left open the possibility that they could move up or down.

“People move up and down all the time. We’ve got a history of doing that so teams do reach out to us,” he said.

The Sharks moved up to pick Mueller in 2013, sending a second round pick to Detroit to jump ahead two places in a deal that now looks regrettable. The next year, they moved down seven spots before selecting Goldobin.

Less than a week ago, the Sharks didn’t have any picks in the second, third or fourth rounds. But in dealing Mueller (and a fifth rounder this year) to the Devils, they acquired second and fourth round picks from New Jersey (49 and 123 overall). They also have a pair of sixth round picks and three in the seventh round.

While this year’s draft isn’t thought to be especially strong, Wilson still expects there to be some good players available after the first round. Getting some assets in exchange for Mueller, who had been passed over in the organization, was critical.

“I think it was important for us to fill in the grid like we did. I think it’s a good draft,” Wilson said. “Realistically, it’s probably not a Connor McDavid-Auston Matthews type draft, but there are some very good players in this draft that will go on and have very good careers.”

As for losing Mueller and Goldobin recently, the general manager seemed to say that that those are the breaks when you’re a team doesn’t make one of the first few selections.

“First of all, you’ve got to clarify where we pick and have picked. You’re not talking about top five picks or lottery picks, so often – and this is not to take away from Mirco and Goldie, because they’re really good players and good kids – you move players when you’re trying to win or trying to make things happen,” he said. 

“Historically, our scouts have done an outstanding job, one of the best records for a scouting staff in the league, since 2003 in particular. But, you can’t be afraid to be bold and move things.”

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Although the Sharks have never made a pick in the 19th overall spot, they’ve been around it. Players include Tomas Hertl (17th overall, 2012), Marcel Goc (20th overall, 2001) and Marco Sturm (21st overall, 1996). 

Some notable players around the league taken 19th overall include Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay, 2012), Oscar Klefbom (Edmonton, 2011), Nick Bjugstad (Florida, 2010), Chris Kreider (Rangers, 2009), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim, 2003) and Keith Tkachuk (Winnipeg, 1990).

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The Sharks will hold their annual development camp from July 3-7 at their practice facility. It includes a scrimmage at SAP Center on Thursday, July 6.