Setoguchi returning to Bay Area


Setoguchi returning to Bay Area

Although it appears Ryane Clowe wont be playing for the San Francisco Bulls any time soon, there will still be a couple of NHLers skating this weekend at the Cow Palace, including one who is very familiar to the Bay Area.

Devin Setoguchi made his debut with the ECHLs Ontario Reign on Wednesday at home against San Francisco, recording a pair of assists in a 3-1 win. The teams meet again on Saturday.

The former Sharks forwards debut was delayed a bit as he had to clear up some issues with his work visa, but hes now a full-time member of the Reign. He spoke with the San Bernardino Sun earlier this week about his decision, and his reasons for playing essentially mirror what Clowe told on Thursday.

"It's nice to get in here and get in full practices, get the good sweat on, a good workout, get back to being involved in certain situations that you wouldn't be in your normal day skates, Setoguchi said.

Like Clowe, Setoguchi was hoping that the NHL season would have started by now.

"I didn't want to have to come here. Don't take that the wrong way, but I never wanted to have to do that. We (the NHL Players' Association) wanted to stick together and hopefully have it resolved sooner rather than later. Right now it's later rather than sooner."

The NHL and NHLPA were meeting for the fourth consecutive day on Friday, although reports suggest there hasn't been a whole lot of progress.

Besides Clowe, the Bulls have signed Edmonton Oilers defenseman Theo Peckham, who has 154 games of NHL experience. The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder has four goals and 13 assists for 17 points in his pro career, along with a whopping 382 penalty minutes. He made his Bulls debut on Wednesday in Ontario.

The 24-year-old Peckham and Clowe have a bit of a history, having dropped the gloves during a game on Jan. 13, 2011, according to (Clowe was adjudged the winner of the fight by 85 percent of that sites users, although play-by-play man Randy Hahn referred to it as more of a wrestling match).

The Bulls host the Stockton Thunder on Friday before Ontario visits on Saturday. Both games begin at 7:15 p.m. Giants playoff hero Sergio Romo will drop the ceremonial first puck on Friday.

Winchester finds a home

Brad Winchester, who almost certainly wont be back with the Sharks next season, has found a home for the lockout (and perhaps beyond).

According to a report, Winchester will join the Finnish team TuTo in the second tier Mestis league. Thats the same league where forward Tommy Wingels is currently plying his trade for KooKoo.

The pair could get a chance to catch up when TuTo and KooKoo meet on Dec. 12 (say that three times fast).

Winchester, 31, signed a one-year deal with the Sharks just prior to last season after a preseason tryout. Hes an unrestricted free agent after putting up 10 points (6g, 4a) in 67 games with San Jose in 2011-12.

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.