Nyjer Morgan skates with Sharks Wednesday


Nyjer Morgan skates with Sharks Wednesday

SAN JOSE It was difficult to determine who was having more fun when Bay Area native and current Milwaukee Brewers centerfielder Nyjer Morgan laced up his skates and joined the Sharks for a portion of their practice on Wednesday morning.

Morgan was clearly having a blast while taking a few shootout attempts on Thomas Greiss, while the Sharks, still glowing from a 6-0 victory over Columbus the night before, were laughing and enjoying one of the more colorful personalities in professional sports hanging out with them for the day.

Would Morgan, a former Western Hockey League player who grew up a Sharks fan while living in East San Jose, be a good addition to the team?

Hes very charismatic, very bubbly, and I think hed fit in great with us, Joe Thornton said.

Would we take Nyjer on our team? You know what, Ive seen his passion and his energy out on the ball field, and if that converts to anything on the ice we absolutely will, Todd McLellan said.

Morgan, who was wearing a black 2 Sharks jersey and named Owen Nolan as his favorite Shark while growing up, actually played seven games for the Regina Pats of the WHL in 1999-2000, scoring two goals and picking up 20 penalty minutes.

For him to ascend to those heights at the junior hockey level, he must have had some talent and some skill, McLellan said.

Morgan, 31, was asked what type of player he was, and what he could bring to the Sharks.

Make it happen, excitement, grind. Be on the third line and make it happen. Same as I am on the diamond. I do what I do. Crowd favorite, Morgan said.

Morgans skating was a bit shaky, but he did manage to convert on one of his four chances against Thomas Greiss, who, lets just say, may have eased up a bit on the final attempt.

He was giving me the stick side, but I saw that five-hole open up, so I had to go five-hole because he seemed pretty strong on that stick side, Morgan said with a smile.

Hes got the swagger, Ryane Clowe said. I liked how he jumped on the ice. He didnt put one foot forward to step on, he jumped on with a ton of confidence, and I liked that.

The timing was good, too. Whether Morgan was there or not on Wednesday, the Sharks were already going to be in a positive mood following their blowout victory on Tuesday night in their first game after the All-Star break.

We earned the opportunity to feel good about ourselves, first of all, with the win last night, McLellan said. To come to practice today and have him around, it lightened up the mood a little bit.

It worked out perfect, Clowe said. You had a big win and great game last night and then this today. Everyone is in a good mood and everyone is loose. Its good. For us, we love it.

T-Plush, as Morgan calls himself, is coming off a career season in which he hit .304. His campaign was punctuated with a dramatic 10th inning walk-off, series-clinching hit in Game 5 of the National League Division Series against Arizona giving the Brewers their first playoff series win since 1982.

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic will compete in the upcoming IIHF World Championships for Team Canada, it was announced on Friday.

The tournament runs from May 5-21 in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany. 

Vlasic, 30, a native of Montreal, has played in the tournament twice before in 2009 and 2012. He also represented Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games, helping it to a gold medal, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which Canada also captured.

In 75 games with the Sharks this season, Vlasic posted 28 points (6g, 22a) and a +4 rating. He was second on the team in shorthanded time on ice (2:04 per game) and blocked shots (146).

A pending restricted free agent in 2018, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson called getting Vlasic signed to a long-term deal an offseason priority for the club. The two sides can begin negotiations on July 1.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” Wilson said. “[He] is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

The Sharks lost in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to Edmonton, although Vlasic and partner Justin Braun helped to keep Connor McDavid in check at even strength. The league's leading scorer had just one even strength point in the six-game series, an empty net goal with less than one second left in Game 6.

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

SAN JOSE – The Sharks didn’t make any blockbuster moves last summer, content to make another run in 2016-17 with largely the same group that came within two wins of capturing the Stanley Cup.

They still acquired a notable player, though, when Mikkel Boedker was signed on July 1 to add an element that the Sharks knew they needed more of moving forward – speed. Boedker was expected to make the team faster, after the Sharks were exposed for not having enough of that against Pittsburgh in the NHL’s final round, as well as play in a top six role. 

At the time, it was hailed as a slick, under-the-radar move that wasn’t going to change the dynamic of the club but could help push it over the top.

When Boedker was a healthy scratch in games three and four of the first round against Edmonton, the evidence became clear, though, that this was a decision that fell flat on its face. 

Frankly, Boedker – who is signed for three more years with a $4 million salary cap hit – brings back visions of Sharks bust Marty Havlat. You know the skill is there, but the desire to use it on a nightly basis while showing any semblance of a battle level is lacking. 

Should the Sharks give Boedker another chance next season, or should they do everything in their power to try and move him? That’s a question that will likely be debated in the front office over the next several weeks.

On get-away day on Monday, indications were that the Sharks were planning on sticking with the 27-year-old, who finished with 26 points in the regular season (10g, 16a) and added one goal and one assist in four games in the playoffs.

“He has the things we’re looking for: his career scoring average, his speed, [penalty killing] ability,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “Did he meet the expectations that he had for himself [or] that we had for him? No. Can we get that out of him? Pete [DeBoer] believes we can.”

DeBoer has known Boedker since he played for him in 2007-08 in Kitchener (OHL). Despite scratching him in the playoffs, DeBoer said he saw “huge improvement” in Boedker throughout the course of the season after the forward spent nearly all of his NHL career in Arizona.

“There was an adjustment. He’s played 6-7 years a certain way in the NHL,” DeBoer said. “We’ve asked him to play differently here, and there was an adjustment.”

Boedker still believes that he can be a fit in San Jose.

“I think it will be and it can be,” he said. “It’s learning period, but you’ve also got to look in the mirror yourself and see what you can change and what assets you need to bring. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m ready to do that.”

The list of Sharks depth forwads that had frustrating seasons hardly begins and ends with Boedker, though.

Veteran Joel Ward’s production dipped from 43 points last season to 29 in 2016-17, although that probably isn’t too surprising considering he’s 36. Tomas Hertl is proving to be a streaky player, too, although his season was interrupted by another a knee injury.

The bigger disappointment came from players like Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, who both made big impressions in the 2016 playoffs but struggled to produce consistent offense this year. Both were mentioned by name by DeBoer on Monday.

There are some promising youngsters in the pipeline like Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen, but it’s still too early to project any of them as can’t-miss scorers at the NHL level.

“I think we’ve got a large group of guys that I like, but need to step up,” DeBoer said. “Is Sorensen [like] Donskoi next year, where he takes a step back, or [does he take a] step forward? We’ve got a lot of guys that there’s a lot of potential there – Chris Tierney. 

“There’s a lot of those guys, but they need to have big summers and take a step, and show that they’re not just one season or one month players.”