Havlat hits a wall; Couture says he's fine

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Havlat hits a wall; Couture says he's fine

DALLAS Marty Havlat has hit a bit of a wall. Again.

The Sharks winger announced his return to the lineup from a partially torn hamstring with four goals and two assists in his first six games from March 15 20. Since then, Havlat, who missed 39 games after getting hurt in mid-December, has just two assists in his last seven.

He admitted on Tuesday its been more a struggle lately after that initial rush of adrenaline.

I think everybody has to go through it. The beginning youre pumped up and everything, and then a little slide, Havlat said.

He added that he feels not bad physically, but Im trying to get back the way I was at the start. Its uphill right now.

Its not the first time Havlat has experienced the feeling of hitting a wall when returning from a serious injury. In fact, hes already done it once as a Shark. Havlat had offseason shoulder surgery causing him to miss all of training camp and the first four games of the regular season. He had eight points in his first eight games back (1g, 7a), but just one assist in the following nine.

The pattern is the same, Todd McLellan said. He missed the beginning of the year and came back and was on fire for the first three or four games, and then kind of settled in. The same thing happened here, we got a really good four or five games in late March from him, and now hes kind of settled in.

Hes got to push himself. Hes got to push his limits, and his limits arent the same as they would be if he played 82 games, but he has limits and has got to push himself a little bit further, a little bit harder, and try to expand what hes got going for him right now.

The Sharks packed March schedule hasnt exactly helped.

The legs, and all the games were playing basically every other day since I got back. Thats most important, to get the body used to this game schedule and practice schedule, Havlat said.

Another struggling Sharks winger, on the other hand, insists health is not an issue when it comes to a lack of production. Logan Couture hasnt scored in his last 10 games tying a career-long drought but isnt blaming it on anything physical.

I feel fine. I didnt know it was 10 games without a goal, so weve got to change that, Couture told me Tuesday morning. Ill take games without scoring a goal if we can just win them. Weve got to stick to our game, put the individual stuff aside, and stick to our team game now."

Couture missed his only two games of the season on Feb. 28 and March 1 with a suspected knee injury.

Its the end of the year. Everyones beat up. No excuses.

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.