Sharks-Oilers: What to watch for


Sharks-Oilers: What to watch for

SAN JOSE Sharks coach Todd McLellan is set to return to the bench for tonights game at HP Pavilion against the Edmonton Oilers. McLellan has missed the last three games with a concussion suffered last Sunday against Minnesota.

Im going to go on the bench, give the bench my full attention, and Ill see how it goes from there, he said. I dont know whats going to happen. Im anticipating that Im going to be alert, and Im going to be sharp.

For a team that has lost eight of its last 10 games (2-7-1), it will take any sort of good news it can get as it struggles to maintain its place in the Western Conferences top eight. The Sharks (33-24-7) are in eighth place with 73 points, just one more than Los Angeles and Colorado.

Were letting some games just slip away and not picking up enough points, Logan Couture said. Sitting eighth in the conference with LA right behind us, its going down to the wire. We need to get some sort of points out of almost every game from here until the end of the year.

Its time to make it happen. Were in a position now where every game counts, Ryane Clowe said.

The Sharks are concluding a four-game homestand and will begin a four-game road trip on Thursday in Dallas. The week-long journey continues with stops in Phoenix, Edmonton and Calgary.
Improving D, but searching for O: The Sharks didnt have trouble putting the puck in the net during their brutal nine-game road trip in which they won just twice. The problem was keeping the puck out of their own net, allowing 35 goals over those nine games.

Since returning home, the Sharks have allowed just four goals in three games, but the offense has dried up. San Jose has just two goals, and is a combined 0-for-6 on the power play.

Weve got to earn our goals, and we just havent done that the last three games, Dan Boyle said. Weve gone through these things before and gotten out of it, so weve got to do that again.

McLellan touched on his teams season-long pattern of fixing one area of its game while letting another slide.

Were in repair mode a lot. Were never fully comfortable with what were doing in a certain area of the game. We get our offense going, and the defensive part of the game slips a little bit. We go and repair that, and the offensive zone goes, the coach explained.

Weve been chasing our game all year. Usually when youre doing that, youre not getting enough out of individuals and playing to your capabilities as a team. The responsibility lies on us as coaches to get that out of them, but they also have to bring it night in and night out.

Oilers surging power play: Edmonton (25-34-6, 56 points) enters the game well out of the playoff race, but the Oilers possess the leagues top-ranked power play with a 22.1 percent success rate. The Sharks penalty killing, an issue for most of the season, is 28th in the NHL at just 77.5 percent.

They have a youthful creativity to their game, and that shows through on the power play, McLellan said. Their young players have confidence and courage with the puck, and theyre not afraid to err with it. Sometimes that allows them to be very successful offensively, and we see that in their power play.

In the last seven games, the Sharks have allowed seven power play goals in 25 chances (72.0 percent), including a pair to St. Louis during Saturdays 3-1 home loss.

Newcomers Daniel Winnik, TJ Galiardi and Dominic Moore, acquired specifically to help eat up minutes on the PK, could see more action there tonight. Mondays practice offered the Sharks coaching staff the opportunity to help review the teams system.

Were hoping to get to the point where we could potentially throw a pair of them out together, but they will get some minutes, McLellan said. Hopefully were not penalty-killing and we dont have to worry about that.

Boyle said: When a team is clicking on the power play, youve got to try to stay out of the box as much as you can. Thats one thing we can do.

Lineup changes coming: Expect to see some different faces in the Sharks lineup tonight from Saturdays loss to St. Louis.

Michal Handzus and Andrew Desjardins, both healthy scratches against the Blues, skated on the teams fourth line with Galiardi for Monday's practice. Jason Demers, who also sat against the Blues, looks like hell be coming in for Justin Braun, based on the morning skate.

That leaves Brad Winchester and Benn Ferriero as the odd forwards out.

As for the top three lines, Joe Thornton was with Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau; Couture skated between Clowe and Tommy Wingels; while Dominic Moore centered Winnik and Torrey Mitchell.

And yes, folks, that means Colin White, who has been solid on the current homestand, remains in the lineup.
Odds and ends: Antti Niemi will start in net for San Jose. The Sharks are 1-0-1 against the Oilers this season, with Edmonton winning the most recent game, 2-1 in a shootout, on Jan. 23 at Rexall Place. Edmonton lost 4-2 in Anaheim on Monday night. Jordan Eberle leads the Oilers with 29 goals.

Sorensen returns to Sharks after having 'positive impact' last season

Sorensen returns to Sharks after having 'positive impact' last season

Editor's Note: The above video is from March 2, 2017

One of the Sharks’ young forwards expected to challenge for a full time roster spot this season has been re-signed.

Marcus Sorensen, who started the year in the AHL before working his way up to the Sharks, signed a two-year contract extension the team announced on Tuesday. A source told NBC Sports California that the deal is worth $700,000 at the NHL level for each of the next two seasons.

In 19 regular season games with the Sharks, Sorensen, 25, posted one goal and three assists. He appeared in all six playoff games against Edmonton, posting one goal and one assist.

In 43 games with the AHL Barracuda, Sorensen had 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points.

"The time he spent with the Sharks this season, and the positive impact he had, proved that he can be an effective player at the highest level,” assistant general manager Joe Will said in a statement.

Sorensen originally signed with the Sharks as a free agent on May 13, 2016. He was originally drafted by Ottawa in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, but spent six seasons playing in Sweden before joining San Jose.

Sorensen was a restriced free agent. The Sharks have just one RFA left to sign in forward Barclay Goodrow.

Mailbag: Will Sharks miss Marleau's leadership? Thornton to be bumped?

Mailbag: Will Sharks miss Marleau's leadership? Thornton to be bumped?

Now that the dust has settled on the draft and free agency, here’s a meaty offseason Sharks mailbag before my vacation…

Who will replace Patty's leadership? (philip malan‏ @pmalan1979)

Patrick Marleau was a good example for other players in that he always came to camp in great shape and took care of himself between games, allowing him to be very productive into his later years. 

But let’s not overblow it. From what I understand, Marleau preferred to avoid confrontation, and was never the guy in the dressing room challenging other players to step up. That was left more to guys like Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, with Logan Couture growing into that role in recent years, too. When it comes to veteran leadership there are other guys still in the dressing room of more value than Marleau. His leaving town shouldn’t change the dynamic.

Will Thornton be bumped from the top line center role? Who do you think will replace Marleau on the PP? (Elle‏ @LikeShiningOil)

The whole “top line” designation is something that us writers and broadcasters like to use, and I’m going to keep using it for Thornton so long as he and Pavelski are on the same line. That said, there will be plenty of games where the Couture line gets more even-strength ice time than the Thornton line. I guess my point here is don’t read too much into the labels. I don’t expect Thornton’s ice time to go down from what it was last season. He’s averaged 18 minutes and change in each of the past five seasons, and probably will again.

As for replacing Marleau on the power play, I would tab Tomas Hertl as the frontrunner, but I’m sure the Sharks will try a number of different looks there in training camp. After finishing 25th in the NHL last season they pretty much have to, right?

How will the lines roll this season, if you were to prognosticate now? (Erik Kuhre @Puckguy14)

It seems like we say this every year, but it depends on where the Sharks see Hertl slotting in. Last season Hertl started out on the wing of the top line after offseason knee surgery before moving to center fairly quickly. I know he battled through yet another knee injury during the season, but Hertl’s 22 points in 49 games was a disappointing total.

If the season were starting today, I’d put Hertl on the wing of the Thornton line again with, of course, Pavelski on the other side. Here’s what I’ve got in that scenario:

Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Timo Meier – Logan Couture – Joonas Donskoi
Jannik Hansen – Chris Tierney – Mikkel Boedker
Melker Karlsson – Ryan Carpenter – Joel Ward

Extras: Marcus Sorensen, Kevin Labanc, Barclay Goodrow

(One guy who is really going to have to fight to keep his spot is Ward. I could see him getting pushed out, but for now I’m leaving him in).

Will there be a tough guy in the lineup to protect the kids? (Jim Kelley)

The Sharks signed free agent Brandon Bollig a couple weeks ago to replace Micheal Haley, but I don’t seem him as a regular in the NHL lineup. Bollig could be a guy they recall if they think it’s necessary to dress a pugilist, like when Pete DeBoer brought up Haley late in the 2015-16 season for the sole reason of fighting Darnell Nurse, who had jumped Sharks defenseman Roman Polak just two weeks earlier for no real reason.

Do you think Chris Tierney is capable of more point production at this point in his career? (Ian Stephenson)

Count me among those that thought Tierney was ready to have a better season last year after his strong performance in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Still, he’s just 23 years old, and his line in the series against Edmonton with Meier and Sorensen was a very effective one for long stretches of play. This is a huge year for Tierney, who had to settle for the Sharks’ one-year, $735,000 qualifying offer. Perform, and he’ll get paid. Struggle, and he could be on the move.

Do you think the Sharks will trade either Grosenick or Dell? Doesn't seem Grosenick has much more to prove in AHL. (Chris Greni)

No, they’ll hold on to all three for the time being. Getting Troy Grosenick re-signed to a one-year deal was a nice move on the Sharks’ part, considering Aaron Dell still has just 20 games of NHL experience. Perhaps if they both continue to play well the Sharks could dangle one as trade bait later in the year, but it wouldn’t make sense at this point. 

Any thoughts on DW using the offer sheet to bring in scoring help? There’s several serviceable RFAs out there still waiting for contracts. (Tony Martinico)

Keep in mind that some of those high end RFAs, like Colton Parayko, Nino Niederreiter and Tomas Tatar are currently headed for arbitration, which takes the offer sheet off the table.

Purely speculation here, but I have to wonder if the Sharks have at least kicked around trying to ink Leon Draisaitl to an offer sheet. You have to think Berlin native Hasso Plattner would love to add the “German Gretzky” to the roster. I know we're settling into the part of the NHL offseason where typically nothing happens, but it was July 19 when the Flyers signed Shea Weber to a monster offer sheet five years ago.

And, of course, Doug Wilson has used the power of the offer sheet in the past, signing Niklas Hjalmarsson in 2010 and then using the threat of an offer sheet with Boston to acquire Martin Jones.

Which Cuda player, aside from Meier, Labanc and Sorensen, would you expect to be a dark horse and could make the big team out of camp? (olin @sleepymofo)

Keep in mind that the sixth and defensemen spots are open, too. I would presume that Dylan DeMelo is the frontrunner to replace David Schlemko, but Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan are coming off of strong seasons in the AHL. Perhaps one of them overtakes DeMelo in training camp.

As for other forwards than those you mentioned, Goodrow could end challenging for a spot on the fourth line. I get plenty of questions about Danny O’Regan, too, and perhaps he makes a push. The issue with O’Regan is that although he’s a skilled player in the minors, he’s probably not quite skilled enough to make up for his small frame at the NHL level. I view him more as a fill-in guy.

Any word on [Barclay] Goodrow and [Marcus] Sorenson? I'm assuming they didn't sign their QO's? (DaveBPilot‏ @DaveBPilot)

Yes, that’s safe to assume, since the deadline was Saturday. They remain RFAs, and negotiations will surely continue.

Still, it’s worth mentioning what happened last year with Matt Nieto. The forward didn’t sign his qualifying offer, as he was pushing for a multi-year deal, and ended up signing for one year for less than he would have made had he accepted the original offer. He was waived and claimed by Colorado.