Havlat's production slows after strong start

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Havlat's production slows after strong start

SAN JOSE Sharks forward Marty Havlat, one of the teams key offseason acquisitions, has hit a bit of a wall.

Havlat missed all of training camp and the first four games of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery. When he returned on Oct. 21 in New Jersey, though, it looked as if he had never missed a beat. In fact, in his first eight games as a Shark, Havlat scored one goal and added seven assists.

Since then, Havlat has just one assist in his last six games. Torrey Mitchell has taken his place on the teams second line with Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe, while Havlat skates with Michal Handzus and Jamie McGinn.

Point-wise its not there, but Im just trying to do my best every night and be helpful, said Havlat after Tuesdays practice at Sharks Ice. It doesnt matter what way, but production-wise, Im not happy with that either. It was a good start, I just have to keep working and it will start coming.

We keep winning, and thats the most important thing. Im just trying to chip in like everybody else. Its great we have so many great players here.

Our colleagues at NBCs ProHockeyTalk.com named Havlat as one of its three duds of the week on Monday. That may be a little harsh, as the line change is likely a reflection of Mitchells strong play as much as it is Havlats drop in production.

According to the blog:

His slump is being overlooked because San Jose is on fire and atop the Pacific Division, but its definitely noticeable head coach Todd McLellan bumped Havlat out of the top-six and replaced him with Torrey Mitchell. Havlats now skating on the third line with Jamie McGinn and Michal Handzus while averaging 2.3 shots per game and 2:27 of PP time.

Todd McLellan chimed in on Tuesday with his thoughts on Havlats season.

In my opinion, Martys first seven or eight games were really strong, and then he kind of fell off a little bit, said the coach. That can happen when you havent had training camp, and when you havent been going at game pace, and traveling and grinding it out like everybody else is. You can start and plateau, and maybe take a little dip.

Hes worked hard to pull himself out of it, and I think thats a real positive sign. When he gets rolling again, I think we expect him to maintain that.

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

The mere thought of Joe Thornton wearing a Kings sweater may be enough to cause some Sharks fans to lose their lunch.

But it might be a possibility.

According to LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen, the Kings consider Thornton to be a “priority” should be hit the open market as a free agent. While the two sides are currently allowed to express mutual interest, NHL rules forbid them from discussing terms of any deal until Saturday at 9 a.m. PT.

Rosen points to a number of individuals in the Kings' organization that have ties to Thornton, including general manager Rob Blake, who played on the Sharks with Thornton from 2008-10. Mike O’Connell was Thornton’s general manager in Boston and currently serves as the Kings’ senior advisor to the general manager. Glen Murray, a former teammate and frequent linemate of Thornton’s with the Bruins for three-and-a-half seasons, is in Kings player development.

The Kings, under new management since replacing Dean Lombardi with Blake, and head coach Darryl Sutter with John Stevens, have put a priority on finding players this offseason that can get pucks to dangerous scoring areas. 

Adding one of the best passers in the history of the NHL would surely help in that regard. Thornton sits 13th in the NHL all-time with 1,007 assists.

Rosen writes: “Los Angeles has been a dominant possession team without being a high scoring team for the better part of the last six-plus seasons, and it was articulated earlier in the off-season that the team needed to do a better job of taking advantage of that possession discrepancy. In trying to find players with the ability to turn possession into actual production, the team has placed an emphasis on finding players capable of distributing the puck into high-danger in the attacking zone. There might not be another player in the NHL – let alone unrestricted free agents – who is as gifted of a passer of Thornton, which places the team’s needs in concert with the future Hall of Famer’s skill set.”

As reported here previously Thornton, who turns 38 on Sunday, is seeking a deal of three years. That might not be agreeable to the Sharks, who are likely to sign Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long-term and expensive contract extensions that would kick in with the 2018-19 season.

Of course, Thornton could also be using the Kings as leverage to get a new deal in San Jose, where he would prefer to remain.

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.