Handzus: 'I know I can play better'

624356.jpg

Handzus: 'I know I can play better'

COLUMBUS When the Sharks acquired spunky center Dominic Moore from the Tampa Bay Lightning late last week and inserted him into the lineup, it was obvious whose place he was taking when he made his debut on Friday night in Carolina.

The 31-year-old center started the game between Jamie McGinn and Torrey Mitchell the same place Michal Handzus has been for virtually the entire season.

In fact, the Handzus-McGinn-Mitchell combination has been coach Todd McLellans most consistent threesome this year. That is, before Doug Wilson sent a second round pick to the Lightning in exchange for Moore and a seventh rounder.

Against Carolina, Handzus played a team-low of just seven minutes and 21 seconds while playing on the fourth line. On Sunday in Detroit, Handzus started the game on the wing with Moore and Jamie McGinn and played 13:03, still less than his season average of almost 15 minutes.

Todd McLellan gave his thoughts on Handzus season after an optional skate at Nationwide Arena on Monday.

I think Zeus has gone in spurts throughout the year where hes been really good, and then it kind of falls off a little bit. Right now, wed like to see him get it going a little bit more, said McLellan. Hes very much a pro. Youre able to sit and talk with him and communicate. He knows that. He knows it.

Handzus offense hasnt dropped off, as his 22 points in 56 games actually puts him ahead of his pace of 30 points in 82 last season while he was still with the Los Angeles Kings.

The more alarming number when looking at the stats is that Handzus, 34, has a -3 rating: not always an accurate number of how a player is playing defensively, but still the third worst on the team ahead of Colin White (-5), who has not been very effective this season, and Jason Demers (-7), who had a nightmarish October.

Even Handzus has a hard time pointing out what specifically he can improve upon just that he wants to play better.

Its all different things. Nothing specific there, but I know I can play better. Ive been through it before so Im just trying to focus on the positives and get better, he said.

Handzus is the definition of a consummate professional, and theres little doubt that hes helped McGinn improve in what is easily McGinns best season as a pro. McGinn has said numerous times that Handzus has helped him not just on the ice, but off, in terms of talking and communicating about what it takes to be successful.

While Handzus appears to be the quiet type in the locker room, it sounds like hes anything but when it comes to trying to help out his linemates and teammates in general. It's also the reason McLellan has said that Handzus would make an excellent coach one day.

As for the acquisition of Moore Handzus has been around long enough that he doesnt need another player in the fold pushing him to play better.

Thats got to come from within.

If I was to be pushed by somebody coming in, I think thats wrong. I know I havent been happy with myself. Moore is going to help us for sure, and hes a very good player whos played a lot of big games and played very well. I dont look at it that way.

Zeus has been a real valuable player to our team, McLellan said. When we play this many games on the road, we have to watch his minutes and have to watch fatigue. I think Dominic can come in and alleviate some of that, at times. Theyre both going to be important players down the stretch, and as far as we go.
Taking the option: The Sharks held an optional skate on Monday at Nationwide Arena, and the majority of the team decided to take that option and not skate on what was the midway point of the 16-day trek.

"Well try and use our time wisely and rest up, because we will be playing a lot of hockey from here on out," Joe Pavelski said.

The Sharks visit the Maple Leafs on Thursday, Predators on Saturday and Wild on Sunday before returning home next Tuesday to host Philadelphia.

Sharks begin second day of draft by selecting a defenseman

hockey-generic.jpg

Sharks begin second day of draft by selecting a defenseman

CHICAGO – The Sharks used their first pick on the second day of the draft to select defenseman Mario Ferraro at 49th overall.

The Sharks acquired the second round pick from New Jersey earlier in the week as part of the trade for Mirco Mueller.

Ferraro, a five-foot-11, 185-pound Toronto native, will attend the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) in the fall. The 18-year-old posted 41 points (8g, 33a) in 60 games for Des Moines of the USHL last season.

“I describe myself as an offensive defenseman that takes pride in the d-zone,” Ferraro said. “Obviously, I like to get involved offensively. I think I’m a good skater, and I transition the puck up the ice quick. I also like to be physical in the d-zone and use my body.”

Ferraro said he needs to work on "my shot, especially. Getting pucks through to the net to create scoring chances, and I also want to work on when and when not to get up in the play, and reading the play better.”

Ferraro, the 78th-ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting and a left-handed shot, had about 20 friends and family in attendance at the draft.

“I’m very honored to be wearing this jersey right now. It was amazing. It’s been an amazing day so far.”

The Sharks chose center Josh Norris with their first round pick (19th overall) on Friday.

Sharks' draft pick Norris possesses 'Logan Couture attributes'

norris-sharks-us.jpg
USATSI

Sharks' draft pick Norris possesses 'Logan Couture attributes'

CHICAGO – Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is typically restrained in his public praise for players in the system. “We don’t like to over promote our prospects” is a phrase he’s used countless times.

That’s what made his instant comparison of Sharks first round pick center Josh Norris to a current core player so unexpected.

“We think – I hate doing this, but I’m going to – [Norris has] a lot of the Logan Couture attributes to him,” Wilson said on Friday at United Center, shortly after presenting Norris with a teal sweater.

Wilson also made note of Norris’ confidence, which was evident in the 18-year-old’s media availability. Norris described himself as “a 200-foot player. I think I can give you a little bit of everything: power play, penalty kill, faceoffs, can chip in offensively. I think I kind of do a little bit of everything.” He added that he attempts to pattern his game to Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak.

Like most players that aren’t top five selections, Norris isn’t likely to make the NHL roster in the fall. He’s set to attend the University of Michigan in the fall.

Still, Wilson suggested that it might not take long for the six-foot, 189-pound Oxford, Michigan native to make the leap.

“He’s a kid, the way he plays and the way he thinks, he potentially could fast track. So, we’ll see,” Wilson said.

Norris had some familial help on his journey to draft day. His father Dwayne had a few cups of coffee in the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques more than two decades ago, playing 20 career games from 1993-96.

Dwayne Norris was right there to congratulate his son, who was no sure thing to go in the first round as the 34th ranked North American skater, according to NHL Central Scouting.

“He just said how proud of me he was, and it was kind of a big moment we had that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Norris said about his conversation with his father.

Norris’ stats suggest he has an ability to create offense, as he posted 27 goals and 61 points in 61 games for the U.S. National Under-18 team last season, and added 12 goals and 26 points in 25 games in the USHL.

“I think I’m a little bit of a goal scorer and a playmaker,” Norris said. “I think I’m really good in my defensive zone. I think I have a lot of upside on the offensive side of my game that I’m going to continue to work on.”

Wilson said: “We think he’s a mature player.”

Norris had a strong showing at the NHL combine, leading all 104 draft-eligible players in attendance in five of the 14 fitness tests. Those results, along with a strong interview, made Norris an appealing target for San Jose.

“He’s arguably one of the most athletic guys in the combine,” Wilson said. “His interview was phenomenal. If you go back in his history in big games he’s stepped up in a big way, and that’s the type of guy we’re looking for.”

Norris, who played baseball as a shortstop until age 13, said: “I wasn’t too nervous going to the combine. … I just tried to make good impressions on teams. The physical testing aspect of it, I’ve always been a pretty good athlete.”

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Norris will make his first-ever trip to California in early July to take part in the Sharks’ development camp.

* * *

Just before the Sharks’ contingent made its way to the stage to select Norris, Wilson was spotted talking with Washington general manager Brian MacLellan. After a brief exchange, MacLellan shook his head, and Wilson went back to the San Jose table and gathered his group to head to the podium.

Asked about the chat, Wilson said it was not about the 19th overall pick.

“We were actually looking at some other things, some other picks that we had,” Wilson said. “Some teams had reached out to us, and we’re planting our seeds a little bit for tomorrow already.”

The draft concludes on Saturday, with the second round beginning at 7 a.m. PT.