Sharks-Detroit: What to watch for

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Sharks-Detroit: What to watch for

DETROIT, MI There was a noticeable wrinkle on defense for the Sharks at the pregame skate on Friday at Joe Louis Arena.

San Joses third defense pair, which has had a number of different looks through the first seven games, could be Jason Demers and Justin Braun tonight after they skated together this morning. In the past two games, it was Braun and Jim Vandermeer, and before that, Demers and Colin White.

Todd McLellan would not confirm anything after the skate, of course, when asked if he would go with that new look tonight against the Red Wings.

Well make some game-time decisions. Theres a chance there will be, he simply said.

Demers, who admitted it was tough sitting out after he was scratched in Boston, liked what he saw while practicing with Braun.

Hes a great player, smart with the puck. He competes hard, and if we do keep going together it will be good to see how we do as a partnership, he said. It was good today, really good.

Braun, who was recalled from Worcester before Saturdays win in Boston, knows that facing the Red Wings wont be easy.

You look over there and they have some pretty good hands, he said. You have to just not over-commit, and contain, and wait for them to make a mistake and make good passes all night.

As for other potential roster changes, signs point to Benn Ferreiro staying in the lineup for at least one more game. Ferriero and Torrey Mitchell both took some rushes on the third line, but Ferriero came off the ice much earlier than Mitchell, who has been battling upper body soreness for a week.

Havlat new to rivalry: Martin Havlat will get his first taste of the Sharks-Red Wings rivalry tonight, but it will be pretty familiar territory for him.

It was a pretty big rivalry when I played in Chicago too, so its not that much different, he said. I know the last couple years the Sharks and Red Wings met in the playoffs, and both teams are one of the best in the league.

Havlat has registered one assist in each of his first three games, and the goals have been huge the Sharks essentially won all of them by a goal, with the shootout win against New Jersey and a couple of empty-netters in their last two games.

You couldnt tell by watching, but Havlat says there is still some work to be done in terms of gelling with Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe.

We need more games. Its just been three games, he said. Weve started pretty good. They are both good players and very strong on the puck. We just need to get the chemistry going even more, and positioning-wise. Its going to get easier for us.

One other note regarding Havlat in his only shorthanded shift on Tuesday in Nashville, he set up Couture for a goal that that opened the scoring and stood into the third period. But, dont expect he and Couture to get too many shorthanded minutes just yet.

Havlat is into basically exhibition game number four tonight, where basically everybody else is ahead. Were going to manage his minutes, said McLellan.

We talked about trying to take some of the penalty kill minutes away from our bigger players and distribute them evenly. Logan could potentially be one of those guys.

Opposite directions? The logic is simple the Sharks have won three straight, while the Red Wings have suffered two straight ugly losses. That would seem to indicate two teams heading in opposite directions.

Right, Todd McLellan?

I dont know about that, said the Sharks coach. I think both teams are finding their way is probably the best way of putting it. They obviously arent happy with the results in the past two games and I dont think thats indicative of their team on most nights.

Our game is slowly improving. Were finding ways to win now where earlier in the season we probably would have found ways to lose. Were making progress.

Odds and ends: Jimmy Howard will face Antti Niemi in net. Howard missed the last two games while his wife was giving birth, while Niemi will be making his fifth straight start. McLellan was tight-lipped on a couple of topics after practice, when asked about potentially starting Thomas Griess in the second of a back-to-back tomorrow on Long Island, and not having to face an injured Evgeni Nabokov. The Sharks won three of the four regular season matchups with Detroit last season. Joe Thornton has five goals and four assists in his last six regular season games against the Red Wings. Detroit is beginning a stretch of seven home games out of eight. Joe Pavelski has four goals and two assists in the last three games. The Sharks lead the league in shots on goal (38.4 per game), while Detroit is second (36.1).

Sharks conclude NHL draft with five more forwards in the system

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Sharks conclude 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.”