Sharks mailbag: Where does Murray stand?

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Sharks mailbag: Where does Murray stand?

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

Where does DouglasMurray stand with the Sharks?
@davidgil_86

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?
@bleedingteal

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?
@BIGBIGBIGG

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?
@RotinajDrAcula

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?
@katylady23

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.

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic will compete in the upcoming IIHF World Championships for Team Canada, it was announced on Friday.

The tournament runs from May 5-21 in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany. 

Vlasic, 30, a native of Montreal, has played in the tournament twice before in 2009 and 2012. He also represented Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games, helping it to a gold medal, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which Canada also captured.

In 75 games with the Sharks this season, Vlasic posted 28 points (6g, 22a) and a +4 rating. He was second on the team in shorthanded time on ice (2:04 per game) and blocked shots (146).

A pending restricted free agent in 2018, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson called getting Vlasic signed to a long-term deal an offseason priority for the club. The two sides can begin negotiations on July 1.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” Wilson said. “[He] is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

The Sharks lost in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to Edmonton, although Vlasic and partner Justin Braun helped to keep Connor McDavid in check at even strength. The league's leading scorer had just one even strength point in the six-game series, an empty net goal with less than one second left in Game 6.

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

SAN JOSE – The Sharks didn’t make any blockbuster moves last summer, content to make another run in 2016-17 with largely the same group that came within two wins of capturing the Stanley Cup.

They still acquired a notable player, though, when Mikkel Boedker was signed on July 1 to add an element that the Sharks knew they needed more of moving forward – speed. Boedker was expected to make the team faster, after the Sharks were exposed for not having enough of that against Pittsburgh in the NHL’s final round, as well as play in a top six role. 

At the time, it was hailed as a slick, under-the-radar move that wasn’t going to change the dynamic of the club but could help push it over the top.

When Boedker was a healthy scratch in games three and four of the first round against Edmonton, the evidence became clear, though, that this was a decision that fell flat on its face. 

Frankly, Boedker – who is signed for three more years with a $4 million salary cap hit – brings back visions of Sharks bust Marty Havlat. You know the skill is there, but the desire to use it on a nightly basis while showing any semblance of a battle level is lacking. 

Should the Sharks give Boedker another chance next season, or should they do everything in their power to try and move him? That’s a question that will likely be debated in the front office over the next several weeks.

On get-away day on Monday, indications were that the Sharks were planning on sticking with the 27-year-old, who finished with 26 points in the regular season (10g, 16a) and added one goal and one assist in four games in the playoffs.

“He has the things we’re looking for: his career scoring average, his speed, [penalty killing] ability,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “Did he meet the expectations that he had for himself [or] that we had for him? No. Can we get that out of him? Pete [DeBoer] believes we can.”

DeBoer has known Boedker since he played for him in 2007-08 in Kitchener (OHL). Despite scratching him in the playoffs, DeBoer said he saw “huge improvement” in Boedker throughout the course of the season after the forward spent nearly all of his NHL career in Arizona.

“There was an adjustment. He’s played 6-7 years a certain way in the NHL,” DeBoer said. “We’ve asked him to play differently here, and there was an adjustment.”

Boedker still believes that he can be a fit in San Jose.

“I think it will be and it can be,” he said. “It’s learning period, but you’ve also got to look in the mirror yourself and see what you can change and what assets you need to bring. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m ready to do that.”

The list of Sharks depth forwads that had frustrating seasons hardly begins and ends with Boedker, though.

Veteran Joel Ward’s production dipped from 43 points last season to 29 in 2016-17, although that probably isn’t too surprising considering he’s 36. Tomas Hertl is proving to be a streaky player, too, although his season was interrupted by another a knee injury.

The bigger disappointment came from players like Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, who both made big impressions in the 2016 playoffs but struggled to produce consistent offense this year. Both were mentioned by name by DeBoer on Monday.

There are some promising youngsters in the pipeline like Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen, but it’s still too early to project any of them as can’t-miss scorers at the NHL level.

“I think we’ve got a large group of guys that I like, but need to step up,” DeBoer said. “Is Sorensen [like] Donskoi next year, where he takes a step back, or [does he take a] step forward? We’ve got a lot of guys that there’s a lot of potential there – Chris Tierney. 

“There’s a lot of those guys, but they need to have big summers and take a step, and show that they’re not just one season or one month players.”