Sharks mailbag: Where does Murray stand?


Sharks mailbag: Where does Murray stand?

Answers to some Sharks mailbag questions on a Thursday afternoon...

Where does DouglasMurray stand with the Sharks?

At this moment in time Id say Douglas Murray is sixth or seventh on the Sharks depth chart on defense. Dan Boyle, Brad Stuart, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Brent Burns will likely comprise the top four, with the two righties (Boyle and Burns) partnering with the two lefties (Vlasic and Stuart).

Justin Brauns place in the lineup is secure his recent three-year contract extension tells you all you need to know about what the front office and coaching staff thinks of his progress and potential. That leaves Murray and Jason Demers as the final two d-men.

Which goalie do you see as more likely to become trade bait this year: Antti Niemi, Thomas Greiss, Harri Sateri, or Alex Stalock?

From a hypothetical standpoint, of those four, Stalock and Niemi have the most value. Stalock is probably one of the better NHL goalie prospects still in the minor leagues, while Niemi, despite a down year last year, still has a Stanley Cup ring stashed away somewhere. Sateri and Greiss, while still young, wouldnt bring a whole lot in return.

If the Sharks are trying to upgrade their NHL roster, Stalock could be an attractive commodity to a team lacking young goalie prospects. At the same time, Niemis struggles last season probably give the Sharks that much more incentive to keep Stalock in the fold. After all, he did win his only NHL appearance late in the 2011 season (in relief of Niemi), and its not a stretch to think that if Niemi falters again this season Stalock could get a real shot at the main job.

Is Dominic Moore still on the table?

Id say theres still a fair chance Dominic Moore returns to the Sharks, but Moore has much bigger and more important things to deal with at the moment with his wifes illness. If Moore decides he wants to play this year, I wouldnt be surprised in the least if a phone call to Doug Wilson is his first.

Although Moore wasnt very effective after a February trade with the Lightning brought him to San Jose, I think back to what Moore said before his first game with the Sharks: If I could have picked one team to go to in the entire league, this would have been it, he said on Feb. 17. Im really excited to be a part of this group. Ive watched from afar for a few years now and this team has been one thats really impressed me for the last few years.

Even with the recent news that Michal Handzus battled a hip injury most of last season, Moore would be an upgrade to the 35-year-old Slovakia native as a potential third line centerpenalty killer.

Any word on Brad Winchester? Curious why his time on the ice was cut so drastically. I liked his style of play and would love to see him stay in San Jose.
Kristina Schroeder

I would be shocked if Brad Winchester returns to the Sharks, as the coaching staff seemed to sour on him late in the season. He certainly showed a tendency to stick up for his teammates and deposit a goal here and there with his underrated shot, but if the Sharks wanted him back, they would have gotten a deal done by now.

If you had to speculate on someone to "come out of nowhere" & make the Sharks roster (maybe a college free agent) who would it be?

This might not be a popular answer, and its not exactly an out of nowhere name, but I can tell you that the organization wants to give 25-year-old John McCarthy a real chance to make the opening night roster and have an impact next season in some capacity.

McCarthy has failed to leave much of an impression in 55 games with the Sharks over three seasons, with just two goals and two assists for four points. That includes 10 scoreless games this past season.

Why hasn't James Sheppard signed his qualifying offer?

Thats a pretty good question, since James Sheppard certainly doesnt have many options after not playing NHL hockey for the last two seasons. Doug Wilson has already said he expects Sheppard to challenge for a roster spot next season, and after San Joses willingness to take on the responsibility of Sheppards rehab, one would hope that Sheppard and his agent realize he doesnt deserve anything much more than the NHL minimum at this point (or whatever it is San Jose is offering).

For the record, Brandon Mashinter, Nick Petrecki and Tim Kennedy also have yet to officially sign after they were extended qualifying offers earlier this summer.

Analysis: Sharks will need results from recent draft classes


Analysis: Sharks will need results from recent draft classes

It was late in the lockout-shortened 2013 season when Sharks general manager Doug Wilson really started to prepare for the future. Douglas Murray was dealt to Pittsburgh for a pair of second round selections. Ryane Clowe packed his bags for Broadway, in exchange for a second and a third round pick from the Rangers. Michal Handzus went to Chicago for a fourth rounder.

Wilson’s logic was sound, as it typically takes two-to-four years before draft picks have a chance to make an impact at the NHL level. The general manager figured that by then, players like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau either wouldn’t be a part of the team anymore or would be slowing down. Restocking the cupboards was essential.

From 2013-15, the Sharks made 24 selections over the next three NHL entry drafts, including seven total picks in the top two rounds. Some players have shown promise. Others haven’t. A few aren’t in the organization anymore. That’s the nature of the business.

The way the 2017-18 opening night roster is shaping up, though, now is the time that some of these young players in the system simply have to step up. Marleau and his 27 goals last season are gone, Thornton’s numbers are down and he’s coming off of major knee surgery, Joe Pavelski is now 33 years old, and the team’s offense depth is suspect at best. There have been no notable additions in the offseason.

Frankly, this season could be viewed as a referendum on the team’s amateur scouting staff, including longtime director Tim Burke. Wilson handed Burke and his staff a wonderful opportunity to provide the organization with fresh talent with the team approaching an organizational crossroads.

What has transpired so far is a bit concerning, as already two of the team’s first round picks from that span ended up being nothing more than trade bait.

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Mirco Mueller, chosen 18th overall in 2013, was a huge disappointment in San Jose. It’s been well documented that he was mishandled by the organization when he was rushed to the league in 2014-15, but even this past season, regular observers of the Barracuda had Mueller as nothing more than the AHL team’s fourth-best defenseman. He’s now in New Jersey, swapped for a pair of draft picks.

The scouting staff was so high on Mueller on draft day that Wilson traded a valuable second round pick to Detroit to move up just two places to select him. With those acquired picks, the Red Wings took Anthony Mantha 20th overall and Tyler Bertuzzi 58th overall – two forwards that have shown a whole lot more NHL potential than Mueller (especially Mantha, who has 39 points in 70 career NHL games so far).

Perhaps more concerning, though, is that the Sharks 2013 draft class as a whole is looking like a dud. Second round pick Gabryel Boudreau suffered a wrist injury and is no longer in the organization anymore, but he was trending downward even before he got hurt. None of the remaining players selected from rounds four-through-seven look to be NHL quality, either.

The next year brought Nikolay Goldobin, chosen 27th overall after the Sharks traded down in the first round, and he ended up being the key piece in the Jannik Hansen acquisition from Vancouver. Goldobin showed some flashes of offensive talent during his time in the organization, but his lack of hockey sense and on-ice work ethic helped lead to his exit. Whether Goldobin becomes an NHL regular, even with a fresh start in Vancouver, is highly uncertain.

Had the Sharks stayed at 20th overall, they could have selected Nick Schmaltz (20th overall), Robby Fabbri (21st overall), or David Pastrnak (25th overall). Instead, they moved down and took Goldobin, making it back-to-back first round failures.

* * *

Still, unlike 2013, other players from Goldobin’s draft class have shown some promise. Second rounder Julius Bergman was a steady blueliner for a good Barracuda team last season, and although he’s probably not NHL-ready yet, he could be on the right track. Late in the draft the team found Kevin Labanc in the sixth round with the 171st overall selection, and Labanc had some nice moments with the Sharks last season. His shot and his hands make him a solid prospect, although Labanc still probably has to get a bit bigger and stronger to play in the NHL full-time.

Noah Rod (second round, 53rd overall) and Rourke Chartier (fifth round, 149th overall) are also still developing, with Rod playing against men in the Swiss league the past few seasons and Chartier a valuable player for the Barracuda last year.

In 2015, the draft provided the Sharks with Timo Meier at ninth overall, as the club drafted in the top 10 for the first time since 2007. At this point, Meier is far and away the best prospect in the organization, and he’ll likely be relied upon to play a top nine (or even a top six) role for the Sharks this season.

The 2015 draft brought other decent prospects, too. Defenseman Jeremy Roy was selected 31st overall, and after suffering a serious knee injury in juniors this year, he’ll get a chance to play for the Barracuda this year. Fourth rounder Adam Helewka and fifth rounder Rudolfs Balcers have also developed nicely since draft day. It’s still a bit too early to evaluate that draft as a whole.

It should also be mentioned that while their draft day record may be suspect the past few seasons, the Sharks have brought in European free agents like Melker Karlsson, Joonas Donskoi and Marcus Sorensen. Karlsson has developed into a versatile, hard-working forward; Donskoi has shown flashes of offensive brilliance despite a disappointing second year in the NHL last season; and Sorensen looks primed to make the opening night roster after his speed and tenacity shined through during the Sharks’ first round series loss to Edmonton.

The Sharks scouting staff has helped to keep the team competitive for a long time, and they’re as big a reason as any that the team has missed the playoffs just once in the past 11 seasons. But this is also a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business, and now is the time that the Sharks need to see some results from players that were chosen by Burke and company.

Report: Former Sharks forward awarded millions in suit against former agent


Report: Former Sharks forward awarded millions in suit against former agent

Dany Heatley last played in the NHL in the 2014-15 season, but he's still raking in hefty paychecks.

The former Sharks forward was awarded $6.5 million on Wednesday, when a judge ruled in his favor in a lawsuit filed against Heatley's former agent, Stacey McAlpine, and McAlpine's parents. 

The lawsuit, filed in 2012, claimed that McAlpine coaxed Heatley into unwise real-estate investments and withdrew over $4 million from Heatley's accounts without authorization.

After a five-year legal battle, Heatley was awarded $4.1 million from defendant company Presidential Suites Inc. and $2.3 million from the second defendant company Waterfront Development Inc, according to CTV Calgary.

Heatley, 36, played two of his 13 NHL seasons in San Jose, where he totaled 146 points (65 goals and 81 assists) in 162 games.

McAlpine was also sued in 2016 by former Senators defenseman Chris Phillips.