Three takeaways: Sharks not concerned about potential rematch

Three takeaways: Sharks not concerned about potential rematch

SAN JOSE – There wasn’t a whole lot of action in the Sharks-Blues game at SAP Center on Thursday. That’s usually a good sign for the road team, and it was in this case, too, as St. Louis claimed a convincing 4-1 win. 

Still, we can find a few topics to discuss in our three takeaways…

1 – Worried about a potential rematch?

There’s a decent chance the Sharks and Blues will get to rematch their Western Conference Final series from a year ago in the first round. If San Jose surpasses the Wild and Blackhawks and gets the top seed, or the Blues move up to the first wild card position, it would make it much more likely.

Should the Sharks be worried about that, considering they were handled fairly easily by the Blues in the three-game season series?

“I’m not concerned about it,” Pete DeBoer said. “We’ll deal with that if we get them in the playoffs. I think if you go two games back we’re not very good, if you go the last 10 games against them we’re pretty good against them. I’m not worried about it.”

The Blues are surely doing something right against the Sharks. Since Jan. 1, two of San Jose's three lowest shot totals have been against St. Louis, including 23 shots on Jan. 14 (a 4-0 loss) and just 20 on Thursday, tied for a season-low.

Paul Martin said: “The last time we played them (on Jan. 14) was awhile ago, and two different teams I think from last time, but definitely we were not happy with our performance or the way we’ve been playing against them. We were off tonight, we didn’t have one of or better games, obviously. They did the job of bottling us up and not giving up a whole lot.”

2 – Burns going cold

It’s now been 11 games since Brent Burns has scored a goal, despite his registering 43 shots since Feb. 19. He still leads the Sharks with 70 points, but that’s now tied for seventh in the league, nine behind leaders Connor McDavid and Brad Marchand. He’s also just seven points ahead of Erik Karlsson for the NHL lead in scoring among defensemen, too. Is the Norris Trophy still a lock?

More concerning, though, is that Burns hasn’t been all that effective in his own end lately and is making some curious decisions with the puck and with his positioning. While Thursday’s game was a team loss – as we mention below, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun weren’t any better in terms of defensemen – it was Burns’ unforced turnover to Scottie Upshall in the neutral zone led to the Blues’ first score.

"When you pick off a pass from the best defenseman in the league," Upshall told the St. Louis Post Dispatch, "and make them pay for it, it's a big added bonus for your team, so it was a big goal for us to get us going."

As the team’s most important player now, Burns’ game will be something to monitor over the next little while. 

3 – Tarasenko takes over

One of the biggest reasons that the Sharks got past the Blues in six games last season was keeping Vladimir Tarasenko under wraps. That didn’t happen on Thursday, as the Blues’ forward registered a game-high eight shots and 12 shot attempts while recording a power play goal and an empty netter.

His line, with Jaden Schwartz and Paul Stastny, was dominant while skating mostly against the Sharks’ top shutdown pair of Vlasic and Braun, as Stastny had five shots and Schwartz another two.

Blues coach Mike Yeo like his team’s game overall, as it responded from Wednesday’s loss in Anaheim.

"I thought we competed at a real high level tonight,” coach Mike Yeo told reporters. “Right from the drop of the puck, guys were paying a price for each other.”

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.

https://twitter.com/sorensenmarcus/status/887412566447628288

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.