Handzus helps McGinn to career year

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Handzus helps McGinn to career year

SAN JOSE -- The connection on the Sharks' third line is undeniable between Jamie McGinn, and his centerman, Michal Handzus.

Hes an awesome guy we seemed to click right away, McGinn said. Every chance we get a chance were talking hockey, which is great. Thats what you want in a linemate.

McGinn has eight goals this season, just two shy of his career high. This, after just 33 games played. It is an improvement certainly recognized by the Sharks' coaching staff.

Jamie was a little bit lost last year I think hed tell you that as well, head coach Todd McLellan said. He isnt this year, hes got a real focus and has a real simplicity to his game. And for as much as wed like to take credit for that, were not. Were going to put that on Zeus.

"Zeus" is Handzus, the veteran forward and first-year Shark. He has centered the winger McGinn, for much of this season. But he refuses to take credit for the success of his younger colleague.

I wouldnt put anything on me, Handzus said. Its just that hes working hard, and weve been talking a lot.

Communication, said Handzus, has been a key to the pairs chemistry.

And hes like that too, he likes to talk, chat and see different opinions on the ice and I like that. I think thats how we create a chemistry, and we are on the way to doing that, Handzus said.

We sit down together, McGinn explained. Either we have breakfast or lunch together, and we kind of just review things and talk about where we are together on the ice. So I think practice days are most crucial for us.

The 23-year-old McGinn also says he benefits from Handzus during games, on the bench, between shifts.

Im looking up to him, McGinn told me. Hes a little older and hes been around for a long time, so he kind of controls me out there. I like to get in there and work, work, work and he goes, sometimes you can relax and slow up the pace and be more in position, and youll get the puck and youll and get rewarded. So, Im taking a lot of his advice, hes helping me along the way. And it seems that were finding each other out there.

It is a lesson taught by one player, who might have a future behind the bench -- according to one current coach.

I really believe if this guy wants to be a coach or in some type of management where he could have an effect on an organization, McLellan said of Handzus.

I think he has the ability to do that.

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.