Wilson improves Sharks without blockbuster move


Wilson improves Sharks without blockbuster move

The hints that the Sharks would be idle at the trade deadline came in tiny but perceptible waves. Doug Wilson kept getting asked about players being moved out and he kept talking about players coming back in. They talked trades, he talked health.And even for someone who hates the idea of playing with his media friends during trading season, he was unusually coy.But after a road trip so wretched that Todd McLellan being hit in the head by an opponents stick could be considered a high point, the suspicion that Wilson was fibbing about his teams activity remained strong.

And in the end, it was or seeing his coach get clocked caused him to sit up and take notice. Either way, the Sharks made serious moves on Rick Nash and James Van Riemsdyk before pulling off a deadline deal that netted them two seemingly useful pieces in Daniel Winnik and T.J. Galiardi from Colorado in exchange for Jamie McGinn and prospects Michael Sgarbossa and Mike Connelly.RELATED: Sharks made deadline deal with Avs (21 comments)
Winnik, who likely will take McGinn's spot on the third line, and Galiardi, who likely becomes a right wing on the fourth line, would be regarded as immediate help for a team that hit E on their recent road trip, but Wilsons seeming disinterest in the market was in fact seeming.According to multiple sources, he worked with the Flyers to strike a deal for Van Riemsdyk, the 22-year-old left winger, and also tried to convince the Blue Jackets to talk Nash without including the name Logan Couture. But when those didnt happen (neither Van Riemsdyk nor Nash moved), Wilson scrambled to do the Colorado deal, beating the deadline by about an hour.Winnik, who makes 950,000, is an unrestricted free agent with penalty killing skills who was a more dynamic player when he was with Phoenix. Galiardi, who is 22, makes 700,000 and is a restricted free agent. Colorado had wanted to package Winnik and Galiardi separately, according to sources, but couldnt make both deals work and therefore settled for the group play San Jose offered.When Dominic Moore, the checking winger from Tampa Bay, is put into the trade mix, the Sharks have essentially changed half their third and fourth lines, and still have Martin Havlat expected to come off the ouchie list in two weeks. In short, the Sharks tried to make big moves, acknowledged that this wasnt the market for that made medium-sized moves, and are hoping that lots of tweaking can substitute for one big splash.The one big splash was largely prevented by the roster and talent logjam. After you remove the untradeables (Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle, Michal Handzus) and the ungettables (Logan Couture, Ryane Clowe, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Brent Burns and eventually Joe Pavelski), there wasnt a lot to love here. Lots of journeymen, a hunk of undertested youth, and not a lot of marketability.That he got what he did for McGinn, having his best year, and two prospects, of which Sgarbossa is considered the superior of the two, is actually not a bad score at all, but it is not the seismic move that he apparently sought, nor does it change the central core.So these San Jose Sharks, the ones you saw just endure the Bump-In-The-Head road trip, are the ones you will white-knuckle into April.Indeed, after years of being the popular off-brand Cup pick, the Sharks have been supplanted as media darlings by Nashville, which acquired Paul Gaustad from Buffalo and Andrei Kostitsyn from Montreal.But San Jose has now changed itself at the edges again, as they have in deadline days past, and theyll find out starting Tuesday if theyve relocated their fizz.

Facial fractures for Couture; Thornton undergoes surgery

Facial fractures for Couture; Thornton undergoes surgery

SAN JOSE – Just in case there was any question as to the grisly nature of Logan Couture’s mouth injury, the Sharks forward shared a picture on his personal Instagram account on Monday.

If you haven’t seen it yet, proceed with caution.

The photo was taken the night of his injury on March 25 in Nashville, showing several top teeth missing in a mouth that can accurately be described as a bloody mess, after he was hit with a defected puck while standing in front of the net in a game against the Predators.

Couture revealed on Tuesday in a conference call that there was more to his injury that just damaged teeth. He also has some facial fractures, including one above his upper lip that extends to his nasal area, and another that is under the bottom row of his teeth.

The one that’s higher in his face is still painful. 

“Still struggle to eat and sleep. … It’s not a comfortable state to be in,” said Couture, who missed the final seven games of the regular season before returning for the six-game first round series loss to Edmonton.

As for the next step, Couture has yet to sit down with his dentist, although further work is on the horizon.

“There’s going to be some implants to get the teeth fixed,” he said. “Hopefully get it done in the next few weeks, and then I’ll head back to Canada.”

Couture doesn’t yet know how many teeth need to be replaced.

“All depends on how the teeth respond,” he said.

* * *

Joe Thornton had successful surgery on his left knee on Monday afternoon, NBC Sports California has learned, and according to a team statement released later on Tuesday he is expected to "make a complete recovery and be ready for the start of the 2017-18 season." 

According to a source, the damage to Thornton’s MCL was more significant than his ACL. The team declined to give any details about the surgery in its statement, including who performed it and where it was done. 

Thornton played four playoff games against Edmonton despite damaged knee ligaments, head coach Pete DeBoer revealed on Monday, when he said Thornton was dealing with a “torn MCL and ACL” after getting hurt in Vancouver on April 2.

Power play at the center of Sharks' downfall in 2016-17

Power play at the center of Sharks' downfall in 2016-17

SAN JOSE – There was an NHL coaching casualty on Monday on a team that flamed out in the first round.

No, it wasn’t in San Jose. It was in Chicago, as the Blackhawks fired assistant coach Mike Kitchen, who was in charge of their penalty kill. Chicago, swept by Nashville despite finishing atop the Western Conference, finished 24th on the PK in the regular season.

When it comes to the Sharks’ coaching staff, there’s no doubt that head coach Pete DeBoer will return, but it’s fair to wonder if assistant coach Steve Spott is feeling a little heat right now. The Sharks’ power play, a primary focus of Spott’s, finished just 25th in the NHL this season (16.7 percent) after it was third in the league in 2015-16 (22.5 percent).

When asked if the full Sharks’ coaching staff would return next season, general manager Doug Wilson didn’t offer anything definitive.

“I haven’t sat down with them yet. I think they did an outstanding job,” Wilson said. “You go through the last 12 months with a compressed schedule, very few practices, integrating players. I’m very pleased with their performance.

“I think there are things that they want to do better. We all have to take a look back and be honest, and say since we’re not playing right now, what can we do better? I think that transparency and honesty is a really good part of this group. We’ll do that in the next week.”

And what was Wilson’s perspective of the power play?

“It’s got to be better. [The coaches] will tell you. …  It’s not [always] the percentage or the number, it’s when you score goals. We certainly have the talent, and historically we’ve done very well,” Wilson said.

There was no part of the Sharks’ game during the regular season and in the playoffs that was more baffling and frustrating than it’s performance with a man advantage. Last season’s success seemed to bleed into October as the Sharks were running at a 24.1 percent rate through the first month of the 2016-17 season, but after November 1 and through the end of the season, the power play was a miserable 15.7 percent (34-for-217).

In the playoffs the Sharks were a more respectable 5-for-28, but even DeBoer called that misleading as four of those came in the 7-0 blowout in Game 4. They were 1-for-18 the rest of the series.

DeBoer, as the head coach, took responsibility for that part of the Sharks’ game when asked how much the miserable power play grinded on Spott.

“It grinds on all of us,” he said. “This isn’t about Steve. The power play is not about Steve. The power play is about our whole staff. We sit on all those situations as a group, and I’m the ultimate guy responsible for all those things. 

“I think it ground on all of us. It didn’t give us momentum, it didn’t create momentum even when it wasn’t scoring. That’s what you want your power play to do, is at least give you some momentum that you’re feeling good coming out of it. We didn’t get that, so that’s something that’s right at the top of our list.”

One baffling aspect of the power play is that the coaching staff hardly ever tried anything different with its units unless it was forced into it due to injury. Patrick Marleau was bumped from the top unit for a brief stretch in the middle of the season, but it didn’t last very long.

The second unit generated just seven goals in the 82-game season, and none after Feb. 2 other than rookie Danny O’Regan’s score in the final game when several Sharks regulars were resting.

One argument regarding the top unit is that it simply became too predictable. Joe Thornton could be counted on to pass, Brent Burns was going to shoot any chance he got, and Joe Pavelski would be hovering somewhere around the slot looking for a deflection.

Pavelski said: “There were times where maybe we rushed it, forced a few things. Definitely all year it could have been a little better, a little more of our identity and what it has been in the past. So, that’s on us as players.”

DeBoer said: “I think we got a little stagnant. I don’t think we had as much motion as we usually have and as much movement, and that comes with some confidence. You lose confidence, you tend to stand still. That’s something that we’ve got to get back.”