Sharks prospect impresses at junior camp

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Sharks prospect impresses at junior camp

Sharks prospect Sean Kuraly is making quite an impression at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp this week in Lake Placid, NY.

Kuraly, a fifth round pick of the Sharks in 2010, leads the Americans with five goals, including one on Wednesday that put the United States up for good in a 5-2 win over Finland at Herb Brooks Arena.

NHL.coms Adam Kimelman caught up with Kuraly after the game, and paints a picture of a 19-year-old player who is seemingly putting all parts of his game together as he continues his development.

In 2010-11, his first season with the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League, he had eight goals in 51 games. He had opportunities to score more, but while his legs got him into wide-open spaces, he couldn't get his head or his hands to into the right position to put the puck in the net.

"He's always had that blinding speed," U.S. goalie Jon Gillies, a teammate the past two seasons with Indiana, told NHL.com. "He would have six or seven breakaways a game and he may have scored one of them his first year."

Kuraly said it was a question of getting all the facets of his game going the right way, which he was able to do when he returned to Indiana for the start of the 2011-12 season.

"The first year I got about six breakaways a game and I'd score once out of every four games," he said. "Last year I got two a game and buried maybe one a game. It all came together got everything on the same page -- my hands with my legs and my head. When it comes together, things slow down a little bit and you don't have to go 100 mph."

Kuralys line consists of Ottawa prospect Stefan Noesen, a first round pick in 2011, and Mario Lucia, a second round choice of the Minnesota Wild in 2011.

But its Kuralys hard work and all-around effort thats making the line go, according to head coach Phil Housley. In four games, the line has a combined nine goals and seven assists for 16 points.

While his NHL debut is likely still a few years away, if things continue to progress for him, Kuraly could join a long list of names drafted by the Sharks in the later rounds that have found professional success. Players like Joe Pavelski (7th round, 2003), Ryane Clowe (6th round, 2001), Douglas Murray (8th round, 1999) and Justin Braun (7th round, 2007) are the best examples of that on the current roster.

Kuralys USA squad plays Sweden on Thursday.

Sharks to support San Jose flood victims with $20,000 donation, raffle

Sharks to support San Jose flood victims with $20,000 donation, raffle

SAN JOSE - The San Jose Sharks announced today that they will support San Jose flood victims with a $20,000 donation from the Sharks Foundation and at upcoming home games on Thursday, March 9, Saturday, March 11 and Sunday, March 12, through the Foundation's 50/50 Raffle.

The $20,000 donation and half of the evening's jackpot, during all three games, will be donated to the San Jose Flood Victims Relief Fund at Silicon Valley Community Foundation to support nonprofit organizations providing immediate and long-term relief and recovery assistance to flood victims in San Jose.

The Sharks Foundation will also accept monetary donations during each game at the Sharks Foundation booth located at section 118 on the concourse or to donate now, click here.

A series of heavy rain in the area caused Coyote Creek to rise to a 100-year peak. With widespread flooding as a result, 14,000 residents have faced mandatory evacuations.

About the Sharks Foundation
The Sharks Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the lives of youth and families in our community with an emphasis in the areas of education, health and safety, and character development. During the 2015-16 season, the Sharks Foundation donated a franchise-record $1.5 million in funding to support the Bay Area. Since its inception in 1994, the Foundation has given nearly $10.1 million to hundreds of high-performing non-profit organizations serving youth and families in need. To learn more about how the Sharks Foundation is helping underserved children and families in the community, visit SharksFoundation.org or read our 2015-16 San Jose Sharks & Sharks Foundation Community Report.

About Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Silicon Valley Community Foundation advances innovative philanthropic solutions to challenging problems. As the largest community foundation in the world, we engage donors and corporations from Silicon Valley, across the country and around the globe to make our region and world better for all. Our passion for helping people and organizations achieve their philanthropic dreams has created a global philanthropic enterprise committed to the belief that possibilities start here. Learn more at siliconvalleycf.org.

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Analysis: Scoring winger a need for Sharks ahead of trade deadline

Analysis: Scoring winger a need for Sharks ahead of trade deadline

SAN JOSE – There are no glaring holes for the San Jose Sharks to fill ahead of next week's NHL trade deadline on March 1.

Still, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is a notorious tire-kicker, and he’s surely working the phones these days to see if there’s anything out there that could help his hockey club, which has a comfortable five-point lead on the Pacific Division midway through its bye week.

“We’ll see, but we do feel really good about this group,” Wilson told CSN earlier this month. “We believe in our players and we believe in our guys on the Barracuda, because they’ve earned that.

“Having said that, our history speaks for itself. If there’s a way to help this hockey team or add something, we’ve always done it, and we’ll always explore it.”

So, what might the Sharks be exploring? There are two areas that make the most sense – a backup goaltender, and a scoring winger.

* * *

No question Aaron Dell has exceeded expectations in his first NHL season. He’s 7-3-1 with a 1.95 GAA and .934 SP in 12 games, and his .953 even-strength save percentage is tops in the league among goalies that have played at least 10 games.

Still, it’s unknown if Dell would be able to handle the day-to-day grind, if anything were to happen to Jones. Even in the minors last season when he earned the number one job with the Barracuda, he wasn’t playing three and four games a week due to the AHL’s Pacific Division having fewer games than the rest of the league. He’s also not been overly tested at the NHL level – of Dell’s 10 starts, only one has come against a team currently in playoff position, and the Calgary Flames are only barely in the second Wild Card spot.

There are some goalies thought to be trade bait as pending unrestricted free agents. They include Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavalec, the Islanders’ Jaroslav Halak, or Philadelphia goalies Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth. All could likely be gotten for some combination of young players and/or draft picks.

But is it worth it for the Sharks to make a move for a player that might not even be needed in the postseason? According to one NHL analyst, the Sharks should just take their chances with the inexperienced North Dakota product.

“I probably wouldn’t put a whole lot of resources in [finding a backup goalie],” NBCSN analyst Keith Jones told CSN on the latest Sharks Insider Podcast. “If Martin Jones was injured you’d have a real problem, it would be tough to find a goalie to replace what he brings to the table. I know they tried James Reimer last year, and the book is out on him. … I’m not sure that that’s a major upgrade on Aaron Dell.”

That said, Keith Jones would like to see Martin Jones – who’s on pace to play 69.5 games – get more time off after the schedule resumes. That means increased playing time for Dell.

“I think you might just want to take a chance with your backup a little more frequently,” Jones said. “You may want to sacrifice a few games along the way. [Dell] gains some experience, and Jones gets some rest.”

The impression here is that the Sharks will probably stick with Dell. Sharks coach Pete DeBoer has been nothing short of glowing in his reviews of Dell lately, as well he should be. The goalie has earned his place on this team, and none of the other goalies that the Sharks could acquire would be obvious upgrades at this stage of the season.

* * *

A much stronger case can be made that the Sharks are in need of another scoring winger. 

While the offense has been more dangerous in recent weeks than it was over the first half of the season, it still doesn’t look as effective as it was last season going into the playoffs, when it finished fourth in the league. Yes, the power play has been relatively power-less, but there’s more to it than that.

Mikkel Boedker has been a disappointment after signing a four-year deal as a free agent, and was benched yet again on Sunday. Joonas Donskoi, still out with what looks like a shoulder injury, hasn’t taken that next step after his strong playoff run last season. Joel Ward is off his scoring pace from last year. Patrick Marleau has been outstanding, but remains streaky. Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier have done some nice things as rookies, but neither of them has “arrived” yet, to borrow a word commonly used by DeBoer. Nikolay Goldobin failed in his two-game tryout last week, too.

Finding a winger to play on the Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski line should be a priority, as DeBoer has tried seven different wingers there this season without finding a permanent fit. 

Among the veterans that could be available are Dallas’ Patrick Sharp or Patrick Eaves, Arizona’s Shane Doan, Colorado’s Jarome Iginla, Detroit's Thomas Vanek, or even Vancouver’s Alex Burrows or Jannik Hansen, if the club is looking for a more agitating type.

Sharp is perhaps the most intriguing name on that list. Although he’s been hurt off and on this season and his numbers are down on a bad Dallas team, he’s a veteran scorer that has won three Stanley Cups as part of Chicago’s dynasty. He’s an obvious upgrade over the players that have rotated through the Thornton line.

Bringing in one of those aforementioned forwards would require some salary cap juggling (especially Sharp, who carries a $5.9 million cap hit) and perhaps a salary from the current roster going the other way, as the Sharks don’t have a whole lot of room right now. But it’s worth exploring, as a consistent offensive attack should be this team’s biggest worry right now with seven weeks until the postseason.

* * *

If the Sharks don’t make a move, DeBoer and company are still confident with the team in the dressing room. After all, most of those players were a part of the team’s run last season, when the Sharks were just two wins from capturing the Stanley Cup.

“For us, it’s not whether a piece comes in or whether we don’t bring any pieces in, I think we’re confident in our group,” DeBoer said. “It’s about us…playing to our identity for as long a stretch as is possible, because that’s what wins in the playoffs. Whether we don’t do anything or whether a piece comes in here, I don’t think that mindset changes.”

Justin Braun said: “Management is going to do what they’re going to do, but if they don’t do anything, we have confidence with everyone in here to get the job done.”