Sharks can't turn it on and off at will anymore

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Sharks can't turn it on and off at will anymore

Darryl Sutter, who once roamed the halls at La Pavillon du HP, was asked what he hoped for from Sundays Dallas-Calgary, and his joking response was a perfectly sensible, Can they both get nothing?And because he could only be wrong, he was totally so. Dallas won, 3-2, so the Stars got two, and the Flames got one part of the NHLs unbearably flawed system of reward and punishment.But if he wanted zero, he could have found it in a familiar place.San Jose.
The Sharks are now nested in eighth place, a blade away from ninth, and on one of their occasional long-term walkabouts. Theyve lost nine of their last 12, are faced with one of those dance-or-get-off-the-floor moment, and their head coach may not be back in time for their next road trip.RELATED: NHL conference standings
Now thats pretty damned zero-esque.The problem of the Sharks has been diagnosed many ways by many folks, but it really boils down to this. They are playing as a sixth-to-eighth-place team playing sixth-to-eighth-place hockey good enough for the playoffs, but not good enough to make a deep run. You may cite injuries as the reason if you wish, but Bill Parcells wasnt lying when he said You are what the standings say you are. Neither was former Sharks coach Kevin Constantine when he said, Potential is synonymous with getting your ass kicked.The sentiment is the same. The winning and the losing is all the required data. But if you must know, the Sharks are where they are at because they still think they are what they are not a team that can turn it on and off at will.It is instructive that they just finished losing at home to St. Louis, which whether you like it or not is a better team than San Jose. The Blues score first, and then they watch you slowly choke on their game. Its so very Ken Hitchcock, which is why he will be a Hall of Fame coach when he decides to stop coaching.RELATED: Sharks sluggish in 3-1 loss to Blues
Losing to the Blues is not a shame for this team, but it was regarded as such because the Blues took San Joses skill away, and the only way to combat that is to out-ugly the game. When San Jose grinds, it wins. When San Jose wants to fly up and down without a care in the world, it doesnt.And because you all like numbers this early in the morning, another one. St. Louis is 33-0 when it scores three goals or more. Thats a team with a very good clampdown rate. It isnt the be-all and end-all Los Angeles, currently not a playoff team, is 22-2 but it matters.The Sharks, on the other hand, are a sad 24-11 when scoring three. only one team either in or within two games of a playoff spot, has a worse record, and thats Winnipeg, which is 21-11.In short, in the race to three, the Sharks get there as often as anyone, but often make the game a race to four or five, which doesnt work nearly so well.The point, as though you never thought we would get to it, is that San Jose can score (13th in the league, which is meh but tolerable), and it can defend (seventh in goals against, which is good), but it does not do both at the same time often enough to be a top-caliber team.It is as if the Sharks struggle with who they are on a nightly basis. Can they run up and down with the young Turks of the league? Not consistently. Can they shut down a team with defense and puck control? Theyre better than most at all. Can they be both? Yes, if you like middle-of-the-pack hockey that is neither consistent nor satisfying.Thus, this isnt a talent issue, or a coaching issue, the two most common culprits cited by message board genii and chat-show experts. This is an image issue, as in, Who do they think they are? The evidence suggests they are a defensive team with grit and meanness, but their inner desires suggest a team that can go firehouse shinny with the best of them. They can do both, but they cant do them at the same time.And until they reconcile those two competing interests, they will be as they are. They can be more like the Blues, and position themselves for a playoff run, or they can be like the Jets and sweat out the final 18 games. But this isnt working, not the way they think it should, and we know this because they are what the standings say they are. The matter of what they intend to do with it is the story of the final quarter of the season.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Sharks have bevy of young defensemen to replace Schlemko

Sharks have bevy of young defensemen to replace Schlemko

CHICAGO – If there were a best-case scenario for the Sharks regarding the expansion draft, it probably would have been the Vegas Golden Knights selecting Mikkel Boedker, and the three years and $12 million remaining on his contract.

Instead, the Golden Knights swiped David Schlemko. While the 30-year-old was a nice third pair defenseman in his only year with the Sharks, it was probably the second-best case from San Jose’s perspective. The team should be able to fill the vacancy internally without too much difficulty. Schlemko had two goals and 18 points in 62 games last season, and has three years left on his contract at $2.1 million annually.

“I think it’s worked out well for all parties involved,” said general manager Doug Wilson. “You go into expansion, you know you’re going to lose a player. David came in and played well for us. We signed him as a free agent, so we didn’t have to give up an asset to get him. So, we think we moved through the expansion phase with the good young players coming in that are ready to play and compete for that spot. That’s probably as good as we could have expected to come out of expansion, in that position.”

If there are no other major moves on the Sharks’ blue line this offseason, the spot to play alongside Brenden Dillon will be there for the taking in training camp. There’s no reason, of course, to break up the top four of Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Justin Braun, and Brent Burns-Paul Martin.

Dylan DeMelo would figure to have the inside track on the job, but there are others like Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan, each of whom signed two-year contract extensions on June 17. They served as the AHL Barracuda’s top defense pair for most of the season.

The 24-year-old Ryan, a sixth round pick in 2012, posted 10 goals and 49 points in 65 games last season in the AHL. He was recalled once by the Sharks but did not play. Heed, 26, is an offensive defenseman that tallied 14 goals and 56 points in 55 games with the Barracuda and played in one game with the Sharks on Jan. 11 in Calgary. Ryan is a left-handed shot; Heed, like Schlemko and DeMelo, shoots right.

Regarding Ryan, Wilson said: “He’s right on track. He’s the type of guy that – if you look around the league at the number of young defensemen that are making an impact – he thinks and plays the game the right way.”

“Watching [Ryan and Heed] play together, I would say they were arguably the best defense pair in the AHL last year.”

There are other defensemen to monitor, too. The Sharks signed soon-to-be 25-year-old Czech Radim Simek to a one-year contract on May 23, beating out several of other NHL teams to acquire his services. 

“He’s a puck-moving guy,” Wilson said. “He’s got a little bite to him, too. Not tall, but thick and strong. We think he’s a guy that has the skill set to step right in and play. We’ll see how much time it takes him to adjust to the smaller rink.”

And don’t forget about Jeremy Roy, either. The first pick of the second round in the deep 2015 draft (31st overall), Roy is expected to join the organization next season, likely starting his pro career with the Barracuda after recovering from a significant knee injury that ended his junior season in late October.

“He had a major repair, but he’s back healthy,” Wilson said. “We’ll see him this summer, and he’s a puck-moving guy. … Injuries you can’t control, but we have high expectations for Jeremy.”

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Vegas shipped Schlemko to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday for a fifth round pick in the 2019 draft.

Sharks prepare for 2017 NHL Draft with eight picks in hand

Sharks prepare for 2017 NHL Draft with eight picks in hand

CHICAGO – The glass-half-full observer looks at Sharks’ recent draft record and sees some late round picks that could be on the cusp of making the NHL on a full time basis. 

Defenseman Joakim Ryan (7th round, 2012), center Danny O’Regan (5th round, 2012) and forward Kevin Labanc (6th round, 2014) have all exceeded expectations so far. Dylan DeMelo (6th round, 2011) could also be included in that group.

The glass-half-empty observer, though, sees that the Sharks have traded away a pair of recent first rounders that didn’t pan out. Nikolay Goldobin (27th overall, 2014) was dealt to Vancouver in late February for Jannik Hansen and a fourth round pick, while Mirco Mueller (18th overall, 2013) is off to New Jersey for a pair of picks in this year’s draft.

It’s all part of the uncertainty of selecting what are mostly teenagers in the annual NHL Entry Draft, which takes place at Chicago’s United Center this weekend. The Sharks’ first pick during Friday night’s first round sits at 19th overall, and they have seven more selections on Saturday when rounds two-through-seven take place.

Doug Wilson is used to picking in the mid-to-late first round, as the Sharks have missed the playoffs just once under his 14-year watch.

“I think we always take the best player available,” he said. “I think it’s a good draft. … We feel pretty comfortable at 19 we’ll get a pretty good player.”

The Sharks have never selected 19th, and Wilson left open the possibility that they could move up or down.

“People move up and down all the time. We’ve got a history of doing that so teams do reach out to us,” he said.

The Sharks moved up to pick Mueller in 2013, sending a second round pick to Detroit to jump ahead two places in a deal that now looks regrettable. The next year, they moved down seven spots before selecting Goldobin.

Less than a week ago, the Sharks didn’t have any picks in the second, third or fourth rounds. But in dealing Mueller (and a fifth rounder this year) to the Devils, they acquired second and fourth round picks from New Jersey (49 and 123 overall). They also have a pair of sixth round picks and three in the seventh round.

While this year’s draft isn’t thought to be especially strong, Wilson still expects there to be some good players available after the first round. Getting some assets in exchange for Mueller, who had been passed over in the organization, was critical.

“I think it was important for us to fill in the grid like we did. I think it’s a good draft,” Wilson said. “Realistically, it’s probably not a Connor McDavid-Auston Matthews type draft, but there are some very good players in this draft that will go on and have very good careers.”

As for losing Mueller and Goldobin recently, the general manager seemed to say that that those are the breaks when you’re a team doesn’t make one of the first few selections.

“First of all, you’ve got to clarify where we pick and have picked. You’re not talking about top five picks or lottery picks, so often – and this is not to take away from Mirco and Goldie, because they’re really good players and good kids – you move players when you’re trying to win or trying to make things happen,” he said. 

“Historically, our scouts have done an outstanding job, one of the best records for a scouting staff in the league, since 2003 in particular. But, you can’t be afraid to be bold and move things.”

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Although the Sharks have never made a pick in the 19th overall spot, they’ve been around it. Players include Tomas Hertl (17th overall, 2012), Marcel Goc (20th overall, 2001) and Marco Sturm (21st overall, 1996). 

Some notable players around the league taken 19th overall include Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay, 2012), Oscar Klefbom (Edmonton, 2011), Nick Bjugstad (Florida, 2010), Chris Kreider (Rangers, 2009), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim, 2003) and Keith Tkachuk (Winnipeg, 1990).

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The Sharks will hold their annual development camp from July 3-7 at their practice facility. It includes a scrimmage at SAP Center on Thursday, July 6.