Sharks' Winchester a study in perseverance


Sharks' Winchester a study in perseverance

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SAN JOSE -- When Brad Winchester came to San Joses training camp back in September, it was on a Pro-Tryout basis, meaning there was no guarantee he would make the team, or that the Sharks would even offer him a two-way contract.

Thats somewhat difficult to imagine now, where more than halfway through the season, Winchester is one of 10 Sharks to have played in every game.

Its a really good thing for Brad as an individual, head coach Todd McLellan said. Initially with the draft (Year 2000) and picked where he was (35th overall) it became a little easy for him. But since leaving Edmonton and moving on to a number of different organizations hes really had to scrap for his career, for his ice time, hes done nothing but that here.

It was both a great fit, and a great find, in terms of the San Jose perspective.

Far as it goes for our organization, its always great to be able to find assets and not have to give anything up to get them, McLellan said. Brad was a great recruit by our management staff, and Im really glad that they brought him in, because he fits our team really well.

Winchester doesnt exactly relish in the fact that his journey this season has been amazingly positive. I asked him frankly about it this morning.

Each night youre coming to play, Winchester said. And certainly my mindset hasnt changed since day one.

He uses his size, hes got a very good shot and a very good set of hands to go with it, McLellan said. In the games played against the boards, and in front of the net, the scrums and the battles for loose pucks, hes very effective for us. So we want that to continue.

But its not always about playing with the puck. Most recently, Winchester dropped the gloves after Dane Byers of Columbus illegally shouldered teammate Andrew Desjardins in the head. He instinctually wasted no time in responding physically with Byers, if nothing else, to send a message.

Were teammates and were like brothers, Desjardins said Tuesday. So obviously thats a thing, but its hard to say you expect it. But he would do it for me ... and I would do it for him.

Winchester credits his consistency and success alongside linemates Desjardins and Andrew Murray to one thing.

Its been a lot of work, Winchester said. Working in practice, working with video. When you play with guys you get chemistry and talking through where guys want the puck. What the strengths are of each other, and playing to those.

As for settling in and enjoying his time so far, Winchester only has great things to say.

Its a great organization, he said. I love being here in San Jose. Its a great place to be and just its exciting and I feel awesome to be here.

Said McLellan: Sometimes when you jump around from team to team, you dont really find a home. Hopefully hes working towards finding his home here.

Follow Brodie Brazil in real time: @brodiebrazilcsn

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

The mere thought of Joe Thornton wearing a Kings sweater may be enough to cause some Sharks fans to lose their lunch.

But it might be a possibility.

According to LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen, the Kings consider Thornton to be a “priority” should be hit the open market as a free agent. While the two sides are currently allowed to express mutual interest, NHL rules forbid them from discussing terms of any deal until Saturday at 9 a.m. PT.

Rosen points to a number of individuals in the Kings' organization that have ties to Thornton, including general manager Rob Blake, who played on the Sharks with Thornton from 2008-10. Mike O’Connell was Thornton’s general manager in Boston and currently serves as the Kings’ senior advisor to the general manager. Glen Murray, a former teammate and frequent linemate of Thornton’s with the Bruins for three-and-a-half seasons, is in Kings player development.

The Kings, under new management since replacing Dean Lombardi with Blake, and head coach Darryl Sutter with John Stevens, have put a priority on finding players this offseason that can get pucks to dangerous scoring areas. 

Adding one of the best passers in the history of the NHL would surely help in that regard. Thornton sits 13th in the NHL all-time with 1,007 assists.

Rosen writes: “Los Angeles has been a dominant possession team without being a high scoring team for the better part of the last six-plus seasons, and it was articulated earlier in the off-season that the team needed to do a better job of taking advantage of that possession discrepancy. In trying to find players with the ability to turn possession into actual production, the team has placed an emphasis on finding players capable of distributing the puck into high-danger in the attacking zone. There might not be another player in the NHL – let alone unrestricted free agents – who is as gifted of a passer of Thornton, which places the team’s needs in concert with the future Hall of Famer’s skill set.”

As reported here previously Thornton, who turns 38 on Sunday, is seeking a deal of three years. That might not be agreeable to the Sharks, who are likely to sign Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long-term and expensive contract extensions that would kick in with the 2018-19 season.

Of course, Thornton could also be using the Kings as leverage to get a new deal in San Jose, where he would prefer to remain.

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

The Sharks have issued qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Chris Tierney, Marcus Sorensen and Barclay Goodrow, while cutting ties with three players in the system.

Tierney, 22, posted 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 80 games last season, serving primarily as the fourth line center. He has 64 points (24g, 40a) in 202 career games over three NHL seasons, all with the Sharks.

Sorensen posted one goal and three assists in 19 games with the Sharks last season, his first in the NHL. The 25-year-old played in all six playoff games against Edmonton, scoring one goal and one assist.

Goodrow, 24, skated in three games for the Sharks last season with one assist. He has 16 points (4g, 12a) in 77 games over three seasons with the Sharks, although has played in just 17 NHL games since the start of the 2015-16 season.

Forward Nikita Jevpalovs, defenseman Patrick McNally and goalie Mantas Armalis - also known for his career as a male model - were left unqualified and are now unrestricted free agents.

Earlier in the offseason, the Sharks signed pending restricted free agents Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. Donskoi received a two-year deal at a salary cap hit of $1.9 million, while Karlsson was signed to a three-year deal at $2 million annually.