Rejuvenated Clowe benefits from time away

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Rejuvenated Clowe benefits from time away

SAN JOSE Theres no doubt the Sharks missed Ryane Clowe when he sat out for six games with a facial fracture from Jan. 17 until the end of the month. In the first five games Clowe was unavailable, the Sharks managed just eight goals before exploding for six against the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 31 in a dominant 6-0 win.

Clowe returned against Dallas on Feb. 2, and scored his 10th goal in San Joses 5-2 win. On Saturday in Phoenix, he registered an assist on each of the Sharks three goals in a 5-3 loss to the Coyotes.

It was Clowes first three-point game of the season.

While the wildly competitive forward never wants to miss time, and is still wearing a shield to protect his face, his two-week break to recover could benefit him for the stretch run. The Sharks have 32 games left in just 59 days, beginning tonight against Calgary, and are going to need a healthy Clowe if they want to challenge for the top spot in the Western Conference -- something that is still well within their reach.

He admitted as much after Tuesdays practice at Sharks Ice.

Im kind of feeling it right now, the fact that I did have that rest. I was kind of worried that jumping right back in Id be kind of behind the eight ball or a little tired, but I actually think it helped me, Clowe said. I think before the All-Star break and heading into the second half, I knew I could take my game to another level. I needed to. Its only two games, but I definitely feel pretty good right now.

Its always easy to say that after the fact, and well say that now. His two-week break, thats great, he should be a little more refreshed than most of the players, Todd McLellan said. But, nobody sets out for that. We would have preferred to have him in the lineup and him manage himself, so that the energy level stays high.

Clowes offensive numbers are solid, with 30 points in 44 games played, and although hell likely never be a 40-goal scorer or 100-point guy, Clowe is able to create space for his teammates with his intimidating style and physical nature. It was evident that was missing from the Sharks when he was out.

Hes also as important player in the Sharks locker room as anyone on the team.

Hes a pretty passionate guy, and it rubs off on a lot of others, McLellan said. Sometimes it gets the better of him and he gets a little frustrated, but hes a big man with good vision, can protect pucks, hes not afraid of anything and will go into hard areas to play.

When Clowie is involved hes making other people better, and I think thats a sign of a real good player.

Like most players that rarely come out of the lineup, seeing the game from a different perspective is also something Clowe may be able to profit from.

You think, why didnt you make that play? or how did you not see that, with so much time? Then you get down in the dressing room and walk out on the bench, and its like, man, this is fast. Am I going to be able to jump back into this right away? Its kind of intimidating down there. Everything is slow up top, he said.

Thats the biggest difference. You realize watching that in certain areas at certain times you might have a bit more time than you actually think.

Clowe was part of a power play goal in the second period on a newly put together unit, recording a secondary helper. McLellan has moved Joe Pavelski to the point on the first unit, meaning Clowe is now taking shifts on a man advantage with Brent Burns, Justin Braun, Jamie McGinn and Michal Handzus.

The top unit will obviously get the majority of the power play time, but Clowe likes his unit and thinks they bring a different element that all of that speed and skill on the other one.

I think right now, those guys have got a lot more motion going on and were a little bit more meat and potatoes, he said. With the goal we scored the last game, I think thats sort of how were going to find ways. Were not going to have the minute and a half to work with, so were going to have to get pucks to the net quick.

Its a different look to have Burnsie back there, and I like being on the power play with Burnsie and the element of a big shot. I like to use the point, and I think Jamie McGinn and Zeus are really good at getting to the net. I like our unit.

When asked if he doesnt mind standing in front of the crease awaiting a big shot from the point that could be coming directly towards him, Clowe reminded everyone again of just how aggressive and competitive he is.

Youre got to man up and get in the goalies eyes. Guys do it around the league, so theres no excuse, he said.

Sharks conclude 2017 NHL Draft with five more forwards in the system

Sharks conclude 2017 NHL Draft with five more forwards in the system

CHICAGO – After nabbing a center in the first round on Friday, the Sharks added four more forwards and one defenseman to conclude the second day of the annual NHL Entry Draft on Saturday, held this year at United Center.

The Sharks weren’t explicitly trying to restock their forward cabinet, according to general manager Doug Wilson and scouting director Tim Burke, although the club did make two separate moves in surrendering some later round picks to move up in the fourth round (to take center Scott Reedy) and sixth round (to take left wing Sasha Chmelevski).

First, though, it was defenseman Mario Ferraro in the second round at 49th overall. The offensive defenseman was a player that the Sharks targeted, using the pick they acquired from New Jersey last Friday as part of the trade for Mirco Mueller.

“He’s got a lot of speed, offensive guy, exciting,” Burke said. “Puck-moving type of guy.”

Wilson said: “We’re very pleased with the d-man. He’s a very dynamic, athletic guy, great skater. He was a guy that we moved up a little bit aggressively to get because that round, you could see people going after who they wanted. He is a guy that we identified.”

After moving up from the fifth round to the fourth round last Friday, again because of the Mueller trade, the Sharks jumped up 21 more spots in the fourth round by obtaining the Rangers pick at 102nd overall for the 123rd and 174th selections.

Center Scott Reedy is a player that Burke has high hopes for, projecting the Minnesota native as a “second line right winger [with] high-end potential.” Burke pointed out that Reedy, who is friends with first round pick Josh Norris, occasionally played on the same line with Norris for each of the last two seasons with the U.S. Under-18 team.

“He’s a big, strong forward that can play both positions (center and right wing),” Burke said.

Right wing Jacob McGrew, an Orange, CA native, went to the Sharks in the fifth round despite missing all of his first season in junior with a lower body injury suffered in training camp with Spokane (WHL).

“We knew about him before he went up there,” Burke said. “He’s a California kid. … If he was healthy he probably would have gone earlier.”

The Sharks again moved up to snag Huntington Beach native and center Chmelevski at 185 overall, and made their sixth and final pick in the 212th position by taking left wing Ivan Chekhovich in the seventh round. Both players look to have some offensive skill, based on their numbers and Youtube highlights.

Burke was surprised that both players were around so late.

“I thought they had pretty good years and they kind of slipped in the draft,” he said. “We weighed that versus some other more project-type guys, and we thought they had more offense and finish to their game. They just kept sliding, so we took a chance on them.”

Wilson said: “We moved up for the guys we wanted, and then there were some skilled guys at the end that we were surprised were still there. … We’ll go back and take a look how it all went, but we feel, I think, really good about where we ended up with this.”

Sharks coach DeBoer had 'good relationship' with Kovalchuk

Sharks coach DeBoer had 'good relationship' with Kovalchuk

CHICAGO – Ilya Kovalchuk is still reportedly mulling over a return to the NHL, four years after he surprisingly walked away from a monstrous contract with the New Jersey Devils to play in the KHL.

The Sharks have been linked to Kovalchuk, in large part because of Pete DeBoer, who was Kovalchuk’s most recent head coach. In 2011-12, Kovalchuk was a dangerous scoring winger under DeBoer, helping the Devils reach the Stanley Cup Final.

It was apparently a good working relationship between the player and the coach for the two seasons they were together, DeBoer said on Friday at the NHL Entry Draft at United Center.

“I loved Kovy in New Jersey,” DeBoer said. “We went to a Stanley Cup Final together. He was a huge piece for us there. I really enjoyed coaching him. I haven’t seen him in four or five years now. I’m sure there’s still a lot of game left there.”

DeBoer said he’s had no contact with the 34-year-old Kovalchuk, who would have to be traded by New Jersey before signing a new contract with any other NHL club. Still, it seems like the Sharks’ coach might welcome a reunion with Kovalchuk, who posted 78 points in 60 games with SKA Saint Petersburg last season, and has 816 points (417g, 399a) in 816 career NHL games with Atlanta and New Jersey.

“I had a really good relationship with him. I had a lot of respect for him as a player and a person,” DeBoer said.

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DeBoer seemed as uncertain as everyone else as to whether Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau will return to the Sharks or move on to other clubs as free agents.

But, naturally, it’s on his mind.

“You think about it all the time,” DeBoer said. “They’re obviously important pieces in the history of the franchise, and in our group. I also understand the business side of this, and there’s always tough decisions to make. The way I approach these type of things is I’m going to go to Canada and relax, and Doug [Wilson] is going to make those decisions. I’m sure we’ll have a good group come training camp.”

“We’ve got a really good core group of guys and some tough decisions that have to be made. The one thing Doug and his group has shown over the years is their ability to stay competitive, to find a way even after making tough decisions. I have all the faith in the world in that, and I’m excited about training camp.”

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The Sharks lost David Schlemko in the expansion draft earlier in the week. Vegas then flipped him to the Canadiens for a fifth round pick in 2019.

“I think for David, it’s a great opportunity for him, especially going to Montreal,” DeBoer said. “For us, it’s an opportunity for a young guy to jump in. The one thing we have in the organization is some depth. There’s a lot of guys knocking on the door, and guys hungry to grab that job.”