Wilson, Burke talk draft strategy


Wilson, Burke talk draft strategy

PITTSBURGH Theyve hit their fair share home runs.

Recent draft picks like Logan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic in the early rounds, coupled with late finds like Justin Braun and Tommy Wingels has given the Sharks top-end, impact players as well as some rapidly developing youngsters.

There have been strikeouts, too. In 2003, the Sharks took Steve Bernier 16th overall, just ahead of players like Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Mike Richards and Ryan Kesler.

Recently, 2007 first round pick Nick Petrecki (28th overall) has spent the last three seasons in the minors, and a pair of NHL scouts recently told me he shouldnt even be considered an NHL prospect anymore.

Such is the nature of the NHL Entry Draft, which takes place over a two-day span beginning on Friday at Pittsburghs Consol Energy Center.

Theres always a degree of luck, but I think you create some of your luck, too, said Sharks scouting director, Tim Burke. I think its more our staff. Some scouts dont see everybody, but sometimes when they see a guy in their area theyre pushing hard for him, we have to go back out and look at him so they get some more support. Its more that, than anything else.

Doug Wilson said: Everybody works hard in this business, but what I like about the scouting staff is the healthy discussion. Burkie deserves the credit for that. Scouts have the opportunity to stand up and fight for their people.

With the pool of players so vast and so young, opinions can change almost overnight. Burke mentioned one player in this years draft, without using his name, as an example. Early on, the Sharks scouts were sky high about this particular player, but their evaluation of him quickly went the opposite direction.

RELATED: NHL Entry Draft need-to-knows

We got so excited on the guy early, it was like, how did you get to this point? Burke said. Youve got to look at the peaks and youve got to look at the valleys a little bit closer, or you get fooled. Theyre only 18 years old. There might have been something going on in his life.

The Sharks will stick with their philosophy of taking the best player available, as it's pretty unlikely the guy they take at 17 overall is ready to jump into the NHL right away. It typically takes three or four years of seasoning in junior hockey or the AHL before a draft pick is ready for The Show.

The kids are so young, by the time they are ready youve got a different need," Burke said. "It's different looking at it in hockey. In football, the kids are 22 years old. In hockey, not many guys play right away. Needs could change every year.

Since Wilson took over the Sharks just prior to the 2003 draft, the organization has had a generally strong run of success. In fact, Sharks selections have played more than 3800 combined games in the NHL (either for San Jose or another club), which is the most among Pacific Division teams and second only to the Chicago Blackhawks in the conference.

The club lists a staff of 11 scouts, several of whom scour North America and Europe looking for amateur talent. They file reports back to Burke, who oversees the operation and is the principle decision-maker when it comes to the draft.

We keep track of all the reports, where everybodys going and who theyre seeing and we cross check and have people go to tournaments, Burke said.

For the potential high round choices, Wilson is brought into the process.

Were looking at guys all year for different reasons to see if they keep improving or theyre going backwards. But certain guys that are important Wilson sees, and were all in it to make the decision. Some of the decisions, especially in the first round, you better be sure that everybodys on board about it.

That includes the interview, which takes place mainly at the scouting combine in early June and continues in the days leading up to the first round. Burke, 57, is in 15th season as head scout of the Sharks, and experience has served him well when it comes to that part of the process.

The interview, youve got to be careful sometimes, he said. The kid could come off as a real quiet, reserved kid, nervous around adults. Hasnt been in that environment before. And, he could fool you because hes a great interview but its all a bluff. You have to go back to who he is and what he does.

Wilson said: You have some players that are trained for the interview, or packaged for the combine. The work that really carries the most weight is what they see during the season. How players have played maybe in a tough situation.

The draft has become even more of an event recently than the NHL trade deadline, in terms of the opportunity to make drastic changes. So many teams are up against the salary cap in late February, or, with the recent penchant for parity, are still in the hunt. The past two NHL trade deadlines have been relatively quiet as a result.

If youre the GM of an NHL team looking to make a potentially extreme modification to your roster and there are several reports out there that the Sharks are trying to do just that theres no better time than now to do it.

Wilson, who admitted that hes in trade discussions, wont confess to any added pressure, though.

You want to start building your team in the offseason. It takes two sides to make a deal, obviously.

I think a lot of attention comes to today and the trade deadline, and a lot of attention on free agency beginning on July 1, but every day is an opportunity, and you plant seeds. Some deals and discussions take a long time to bring to fruition, but youre always looking at what your needs might be.

Youre trying to put your best team on the ice, and keep an eye on the future to refresh and replenish.

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.


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.