Sharks shuffle lines, seeking offense


Sharks shuffle lines, seeking offense

SAN JOSE There is only so much the coaching staff can do to try and reverse a scoring drought.

The Sharks have just three goals over their last three games, which includes two straight losses after a 1-0 win against Chicago last week. A 3-2 defeat to Vancouver on Saturday was followed by one of their poorer efforts of the season on Monday, when Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings shut them out, 2-0.

Cue the line changes.

Logan Couture was back with Ryane Clowe and Marty Havlat at practice on Wednesday, while Patrick Marleau skated on the wing with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Thats the look that Sharks are likely to go with for Thursdays home game against Montreal.

Couture and Clowe have had success in the past, of course, including most of last season. The hope from Todd McLellan is that the reunion benefits everyone involved, as Couture, Clowe and Havlat have combined for just a single goal over the last eight games.

Were trying to jumpstart a few players, said McLellan. Our offensive production hasnt been enough for us to win games. When you look at the game as a whole in L.A., we didnt play very well and I wasnt very happy with our overall game, but we still only gave up two. We should be able to win games when we only give up two.

Were trying to jumpstart the offense and trying to create more around the blue paint, and the familiarity that Logan has with Clowie is probably the most important thing right now.

Couture gave the standard it doesnt matter who Im playing with response when asked about the changes, but acknowledged that he enjoys playing with the rugged Clowe.

I think we know how to read off of each other, said Couture. Hes strong on pucks, and I try to get in on the forecheck as hard as I can, and he can lay pucks in to me. Hes big around the net, takes pucks to the net, and last year I was there to bang in some rebounds. Thats something I need to get back to, scoring some dirty goals.

Havlat, who missed the first four games of the regular season while recovering from shoulder surgery, started his season with Couture and Clowe back on Oct. 21 in New Jersey. He recorded a goal and seven assists in his first eight games, playing primarily on that line.

Since then, Havlat has just one assist in his last nine games.

Everyone goes through slumps, thats just the way this game is. Hopefully he can play in the other teams end, said Couture of Havlat. Today, we talked about getting around the blue paint and scoring some ugly goals. Hopefully, thats something that we can do.

The biggest risk with these changes, though, is tinkering with Marleaus game. Since moving back to center the second line, Marleau has been the Sharks steadiest point producer with 11 points in the last nine games (7g, 4a).

Need more proof of how important Marleaus game is to the Sharks? Of his 20 points on the season, only one of those, a goal against Vancouver late last Saturday, has come in a Sharks loss.

Theres always a risk of trying to help one or two others, that you stunt someone else a little bit, said McLellan. Im confident in that Patty feels good enough about his game. Hes still playing with two good players, that he can go back to the wing awhile and produce.

Its whatever is best for the team and whatever the coach thinks, said Marleau of the change. You just have to continue playing the same way.

Marleau was unaware that all but one of his points has come in games that the Sharks have emerged victorious.

It gives you that much more incentive to get on the board and help the team win, he said.

Handzus still recovering

Sharks center Michal Handzus was back at the practice facility on Wednesday after missing Saturdays game in Los Angeles with an illness. Handzus rode the bike and worked out, and is probable to play against the Canadians. Colin White was still missing on Wednesday due to a family funeral. Antti Niemi will start against Montreal.

Sharks' draft pick Norris possesses 'Logan Couture attributes'


Sharks' draft pick Norris possesses 'Logan Couture attributes'

CHICAGO – Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is typically restrained in his public praise for players in the system. “We don’t like to over promote our prospects” is a phrase he’s used countless times.

That’s what made his instant comparison of Sharks first round pick center Josh Norris to a current core player so unexpected.

“We think – I hate doing this, but I’m going to – [Norris has] a lot of the Logan Couture attributes to him,” Wilson said on Friday at United Center, shortly after presenting Norris with a teal sweater.

Wilson also made note of Norris’ confidence, which was evident in the 18-year-old’s media availability. Norris described himself as “a 200-foot player. I think I can give you a little bit of everything: power play, penalty kill, faceoffs, can chip in offensively. I think I kind of do a little bit of everything.” He added that he attempts to pattern his game to Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak.

Like most players that aren’t top five selections, Norris isn’t likely to make the NHL roster in the fall. He’s set to attend the University of Michigan in the fall.

Still, Wilson suggested that it might not take long for the six-foot, 189-pound Oxford, Michigan native to make the leap.

“He’s a kid, the way he plays and the way he thinks, he potentially could fast track. So, we’ll see,” Wilson said.

Norris had some familial help on his journey to draft day. His father Dwayne had a few cups of coffee in the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques more than two decades ago, playing 20 career games from 1993-96.

Dwayne Norris was right there to congratulate his son, who was no sure thing to go in the first round as the 34th ranked North American skater, according to NHL Central Scouting.

“He just said how proud of me he was, and it was kind of a big moment we had that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Norris said about his conversation with his father.

Norris’ stats suggest he has an ability to create offense, as he posted 27 goals and 61 points in 61 games for the U.S. National Under-18 team last season, and added 12 goals and 26 points in 25 games in the USHL.

“I think I’m a little bit of a goal scorer and a playmaker,” Norris said. “I think I’m really good in my defensive zone. I think I have a lot of upside on the offensive side of my game that I’m going to continue to work on.”

Wilson said: “We think he’s a mature player.”

Norris had a strong showing at the NHL combine, leading all 104 draft-eligible players in attendance in five of the 14 fitness tests. Those results, along with a strong interview, made Norris an appealing target for San Jose.

“He’s arguably one of the most athletic guys in the combine,” Wilson said. “His interview was phenomenal. If you go back in his history in big games he’s stepped up in a big way, and that’s the type of guy we’re looking for.”

Norris, who played baseball as a shortstop until age 13, said: “I wasn’t too nervous going to the combine. … I just tried to make good impressions on teams. The physical testing aspect of it, I’ve always been a pretty good athlete.”

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Norris will make his first-ever trip to California in early July to take part in the Sharks’ development camp.

* * *

Just before the Sharks’ contingent made its way to the stage to select Norris, Wilson was spotted talking with Washington general manager Brian MacLellan. After a brief exchange, MacLellan shook his head, and Wilson went back to the San Jose table and gathered his group to head to the podium.

Asked about the chat, Wilson said it was not about the 19th overall pick.

“We were actually looking at some other things, some other picks that we had,” Wilson said. “Some teams had reached out to us, and we’re planting our seeds a little bit for tomorrow already.”

The draft concludes on Saturday, with the second round beginning at 7 a.m. PT.

Sharks select center Josh Norris No. 19 in 2017 NHL Entry Draft

Sharks select center Josh Norris No. 19 in 2017 NHL Entry Draft

CHICAGO – The Sharks used their first round draft selection on Friday night to select Josh Norris, a center from Michigan.
San Jose stayed in the 19th position in the first round, where it was originally slotted, to take Norris. The six-foot, 189-pounder posted 61 points (27g, 34a) in 61 games with the U.S. National Under-18 team last season, and added 26 points (12g, 14a) in 25 games in the USHL. He has committed to the University of Michigan for the 2017-18 season.
Norris became the Sharks’ first North American-born first round pick since Charlie Coyle in 2010. Their previous four first round selections were born in Europe.
Norris’ father, Dwayne, was drafted 127th overall by Quebec in 1990 and played in 20 games with the club from 1990-93.
Just before making the pick, general manager Doug Wilson had a quick chat with Washington general manager Brian MacLellan, but nothing apparently came of it.
The Sharks had never selected a player 19th overall in their history. Notable players around the league selected in that spot include Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay, 2012), Oscar Klefbom (Edmonton, 2011), Nick Bjugstad (Florida, 2010), Chris Kreider (Rangers, 2009), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim, 2003) and Keith Tkachuk (Winnipeg, 1990).
The Sharks have seven more selections on Saturday when the draft resumes at 7 a.m. PT, including the 49th overall pick in the second round, acquired from New Jersey as part of the Mirco Mueller trade earlier in the week. They also own one fourth round pick, two in the sixth round, and three in the seventh round.
Swiss native Nico Hischier went first overall to the New Jersey Devils, while the Philadelphia Flyers selected Nolan Patrick second.
Recent Sharks first round draft picks
2016 – None
2015 – Timo Meier (9th overall)
2014 – Nikolay Goldobin (27th overall)
2013 – Mirco Mueller (18th overall)
2012 – Tomas Hertl (17th overall)
2011 – None 
2010 – Charlie Coyle (28th overall)
2009 – None
2008 – None
2007 – Logan Couture (9th overall), Nick Petrecki (28th overall)