Five Sharks season-defining moments

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Five Sharks season-defining moments

Whether or not the San Jose Sharks had a successful regular season is debatable (sure, they're in the playoffs, but were expected to be a much higher seed), but at least one thing is certain it was interesting. Below are five season-defining moments for the club, for better or for worse, as the playoffs loom.

Did we leave any out? Let us know in the comments section below.

Early (only?) road success The Sharks opened the regular season with a dominant 6-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes at HP Pavilion, in a game that wasnt as close as the score would indicate. Immediately after that, San Jose dropped three straight to the Ducks (twice) and Blues, with a long East Coast road swing on the horizon.

RELATED: Sharks scheduleresults

It was there that the club put together its longest winning streak of the season of five games, including impressive wins in New Jersey, Boston, Nashville and Detroit. The trip culminated in a 5-2 loss to the Rangers, in which Sharks captain Joe Thornton called New York the softest team they faced on the trip, garnering some national media attention in the process.

The Havlat hop The season wasnt going particularly well for Sharks winger Marty Havlat. The winger missed all of training camp and the first four games of the regular season, and after an initial push, was fairly invisible for the next six weeks.

RELATED: Marty Havlat 2011-2012 game logs

On Dec. 17 against Edmonton, it got worse. The oft-injured scorer crumpled to the ice after what should have been a simple line change, missing the next 39 games with a partially torn hamstring. Havlat was much more effective upon his return in mid-March, recording 12 points in the final 13 games, and has been a strong playoff performer in the past. The Sharks will need him to be just that beginning on Thursday in St. Louis.

Wilder in Van They were among the two most entertaining games of the season. Its always notable when a team faces the club that ended its playoff run the previous year, and the Sharks got a chance to end 2011 and begin 2012 with a home-and-home against the Vancouver Canucks.

On Dec. 28, the Sharks fought back from a 2-0 deficit and lost in overtime to the Canucks, 3-2. At Rogers Arena on Jan. 2, the Canucks fought back this time with a goal midway through the third period, only to see San Jose win it in a shootout, 3-2. Even more than earning three of a possible four points, though, was the fact that the Sharks proved they could play inspired and determined hockey (and entertaining, to boot) against one of the best teams in the NHL.

REWIND: Box Scores -- 12.28: Van. 3, Sharks 2 1.2: Sharks 3, Van. 2

Travel issues Things were already trending downward when the Sharks left for a brutal nine-game, 15-day road trip in the middle of February. It promptly got much, much worse.

The club had lost five of nine games before dropping a 3-0 decision in St. Louis on Feb. 12 in the first game of the trip in what was a sign of things to come. San Jose continued on to lose to some of the worst teams in the NHL, such as Carolina, Columbus and Minnesota, while ineffective goaltender Antti Niemi was pulled in two of the final four games of the trip. A 1-0 win over Philadelphia in the first game back on Feb. 28 provided some temporary relief, but the Sharks promptly lost five more in a row after that. The season was slipping away.

Finishing strong The Sharks sat in ninth place out of playoff position headed into their final four games against rivals Dallas and Los Angeles. Furthermore, the club was coming off of two particularly disheartening losses in Anaheim and Phoenix in the two games leading up to a March 31 meeting with the Stars.

The Sharks prevailed in that one, though, 3-0, and followed it up with an equally important 5-2 victory in Dallas. Their playoff position was solidified just before an April 5 meeting with the Kings, in which they beat Los Angeles in a wild 6-5 shootout. The season ended on a high note when Dan Boyle scored in the third period and again in overtime to put San Jose in the seventh seed and allow them to avoid Vancouver for at least one round.

Sharks conclude 2017 NHL Draft with five more forwards in the system

Sharks conclude 2017 NHL Draft with five more forwards in the system

CHICAGO – After nabbing a center in the first round on Friday, the Sharks added four more forwards and one defenseman to conclude the second day of the annual NHL Entry Draft on Saturday, held this year at United Center.

The Sharks weren’t explicitly trying to restock their forward cabinet, according to general manager Doug Wilson and scouting director Tim Burke, although the club did make two separate moves in surrendering some later round picks to move up in the fourth round (to take center Scott Reedy) and sixth round (to take left wing Sasha Chmelevski).

First, though, it was defenseman Mario Ferraro in the second round at 49th overall. The offensive defenseman was a player that the Sharks targeted, using the pick they acquired from New Jersey last Friday as part of the trade for Mirco Mueller.

“He’s got a lot of speed, offensive guy, exciting,” Burke said. “Puck-moving type of guy.”

Wilson said: “We’re very pleased with the d-man. He’s a very dynamic, athletic guy, great skater. He was a guy that we moved up a little bit aggressively to get because that round, you could see people going after who they wanted. He is a guy that we identified.”

After moving up from the fifth round to the fourth round last Friday, again because of the Mueller trade, the Sharks jumped up 21 more spots in the fourth round by obtaining the Rangers pick at 102nd overall for the 123rd and 174th selections.

Center Scott Reedy is a player that Burke has high hopes for, projecting the Minnesota native as a “second line right winger [with] high-end potential.” Burke pointed out that Reedy, who is friends with first round pick Josh Norris, occasionally played on the same line with Norris for each of the last two seasons with the U.S. Under-18 team.

“He’s a big, strong forward that can play both positions (center and right wing),” Burke said.

Right wing Jacob McGrew, an Orange, CA native, went to the Sharks in the fifth round despite missing all of his first season in junior with a lower body injury suffered in training camp with Spokane (WHL).

“We knew about him before he went up there,” Burke said. “He’s a California kid. … If he was healthy he probably would have gone earlier.”

The Sharks again moved up to snag Huntington Beach native and center Chmelevski at 185 overall, and made their sixth and final pick in the 212th position by taking left wing Ivan Chekhovich in the seventh round. Both players look to have some offensive skill, based on their numbers and Youtube highlights.

Burke was surprised that both players were around so late.

“I thought they had pretty good years and they kind of slipped in the draft,” he said. “We weighed that versus some other more project-type guys, and we thought they had more offense and finish to their game. They just kept sliding, so we took a chance on them.”

Wilson said: “We moved up for the guys we wanted, and then there were some skilled guys at the end that we were surprised were still there. … We’ll go back and take a look how it all went, but we feel, I think, really good about where we ended up with this.”

Sharks coach DeBoer had 'good relationship' with Kovalchuk

Sharks coach DeBoer had 'good relationship' with Kovalchuk

CHICAGO – Ilya Kovalchuk is still reportedly mulling over a return to the NHL, four years after he surprisingly walked away from a monstrous contract with the New Jersey Devils to play in the KHL.

The Sharks have been linked to Kovalchuk, in large part because of Pete DeBoer, who was Kovalchuk’s most recent head coach. In 2011-12, Kovalchuk was a dangerous scoring winger under DeBoer, helping the Devils reach the Stanley Cup Final.

It was apparently a good working relationship between the player and the coach for the two seasons they were together, DeBoer said on Friday at the NHL Entry Draft at United Center.

“I loved Kovy in New Jersey,” DeBoer said. “We went to a Stanley Cup Final together. He was a huge piece for us there. I really enjoyed coaching him. I haven’t seen him in four or five years now. I’m sure there’s still a lot of game left there.”

DeBoer said he’s had no contact with the 34-year-old Kovalchuk, who would have to be traded by New Jersey before signing a new contract with any other NHL club. Still, it seems like the Sharks’ coach might welcome a reunion with Kovalchuk, who posted 78 points in 60 games with SKA Saint Petersburg last season, and has 816 points (417g, 399a) in 816 career NHL games with Atlanta and New Jersey.

“I had a really good relationship with him. I had a lot of respect for him as a player and a person,” DeBoer said.

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DeBoer seemed as uncertain as everyone else as to whether Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau will return to the Sharks or move on to other clubs as free agents.

But, naturally, it’s on his mind.

“You think about it all the time,” DeBoer said. “They’re obviously important pieces in the history of the franchise, and in our group. I also understand the business side of this, and there’s always tough decisions to make. The way I approach these type of things is I’m going to go to Canada and relax, and Doug [Wilson] is going to make those decisions. I’m sure we’ll have a good group come training camp.”

“We’ve got a really good core group of guys and some tough decisions that have to be made. The one thing Doug and his group has shown over the years is their ability to stay competitive, to find a way even after making tough decisions. I have all the faith in the world in that, and I’m excited about training camp.”

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The Sharks lost David Schlemko in the expansion draft earlier in the week. Vegas then flipped him to the Canadiens for a fifth round pick in 2019.

“I think for David, it’s a great opportunity for him, especially going to Montreal,” DeBoer said. “For us, it’s an opportunity for a young guy to jump in. The one thing we have in the organization is some depth. There’s a lot of guys knocking on the door, and guys hungry to grab that job.”