Sharks still lack secondary scoring

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Sharks still lack secondary scoring

Considering the NHL owners first CBA proposal and the marked lack of activity in the trade market this offeseason, its not a stretch to suggest that the Sharks roster, as it stands now, might be fairly close to how it looks at the beginning of the regular season.

Whenever that is, of course.

It also means that San Jose hasnt done much to fix what was one of its gaping holes last season, and that is the lack of secondary scoring, and production from the third and fourth lines.

While the Sharks still boast an impressive and productive top-six in Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Ryane Clowe and Marty Havlat, the offensive output of the rest of the forward group under contract drops off dramatically after that.

In fact, when you combine the scoring of what would probably be the bottom six forwards at this point (Andrew Desjardins, Michal Handzus, Adam Burish, Tommy Wingels, James Sheppard and John McCarthy or Tim Kennedy), you get a total of 21 goals scored last season in 278 games.

Thats one goal every 13.2 games, and doesnt even include Sheppard, who hasnt skated in an NHL game since the 2009-10 season.

To be fair, Desjardins and Wingels are perceived as improving young players in the organization and will be counted on to increase their numbers from last season. Wingels played just 33 games, but showed flashes of becoming a consistent scorer and contributor when he was in the lineup for the final two months of the season and the playoffs. Its not a stretch to think he could get between 15-20 goals next season should he remain healthy something he had trouble with when in the lineup.

On the other hand, Handzus, 35, who had seven goals and 17 assists in 67 games last season, will be a year older and a year slower after a disappointing season for the veteran center in his first year as a Shark. The pace of the NHL game may have passed him by.

It also seems more and more unlikely that the Sharks will land one of the big three remaining names in the free agenttrade market. Rick Nashs 7.8 million salary cap hit for the next six years looks even worse when you consider that the owners want to dramatically roll back the cap. The ownership situation in Phoenix could finally be clearing up, and if it does, its likely Shane Doan will return to the place hes called home for so many years. And Alex Semin, the best free agent still available, probably wouldnt be a good fit with the Sharks, who are looking to re-energize and add some personality to their locker room with players like Burish.

San Jose will still likely add at least one more forward, but the unrestricted free agent market after Semin is bone dry. The Sharks chose to watch from the sidelines while depth, scoring forwards that could have immediately helped them were plucked one-by-one by other clubs. No one expected the Sharks would land a Zach Parise-type, but there were several players that were free to sign anywhere that could have aided the Sharks top-heavy offense.

Whether or not San Jose came close to signing another scorer is uncertain, but at it stands right now, theyve only added Burish and lost Torrey Mitchell to Minnesota. Daniel Winnik, Brad Winchester and Dominic Moore remain free agents.

In short, there is still plenty of work to be done. And the summer isnt getting any longer.

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.”