Boedker, Dillon among players left unprotected by Sharks

Boedker, Dillon among players left unprotected by Sharks

The NHL on Sunday morning released which players each of the 30 NHL teams are protecting and which they are making available to the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.

The Sharks are protecting Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Chris Tierney, Jannik Hansen, Melker Karlsson, Ryan Carpenter, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun and Martin Jones. San Jose chose the format of protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie rather than eight skaters and one goalie.

Among the notable players available for Vegas are Mikkel Boedker, Joel Ward, Dylan DeMelo, Brenden Dillon, Paul Martin, David Schlemko, Aaron Dell and Troy Grosenick. Pending unrestricted free agents Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were also left unprotected, as expected.

The Golden Knights must select one player from each of the 30 teams, including 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders. Their roster will be revealed on Wednesday, June 21, at the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas.

The Golden Knights are also now permitted to speak with pending free agents that were not protected by their respective clubs – including Thornton and Marleau – with a 72-hour window to sign those players. If the Golden Knights agree to terms with one of them, they are not permitted to take a second player from San Jose's list of available players.

In a statement, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said: "We are excited to welcome the Vegas Golden Knights to the National Hockey League and the Pacific Division. Per the guidelines that were set forth under the expansion draft rules, we have submitted our protected list to the National Hockey League. The reality is that we will be losing a player and quality person from our organization but whatever the outcome, we feel fortunate that we have a strong prospect pool with the San Jose Barracuda to help fill that loss."

Mailbag: Who will Sharks lose in the expansion draft?

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Mailbag: Who will Sharks lose in the expansion draft?

Our first Sharks offseason mailbag features the upcoming expansion draft, Micheal Haley, and Jannik Hansen...

Who's going to Vegas? (michael dalsky @rudy7799)

The NHL expansion draft, in case you’ve forgotten, will take place in late June with the Vegas Golden Knights roster set to be announced on June 21.

At this point, I believe it’s more likely the Sharks will lose a defenseman than a forward or a goalie.

It makes the most sense for San Jose to utilize the seven forwards/three defensemen/one goalie option in order to protect the maximum amount of players, rather than the eight skaters and one goalie. There are simply too many forwards on the team that need to be protected, especially if the team agrees to a contract extension with Joe Thornton and/or Patrick Marleau over the next few weeks. 

There are two obvious choices for the team to expose at forward in Mikkel Boedker and Joel Ward – the Sharks would likely welcome Vegas choosing Boedker, especially, who has three years and $12 million left on his deal, but I can't imagine Vegas would do that. Ward, who will turn 37 in December, had a significant drop in production this season and probably wouldn’t be an attractive target for the Golden Knights, either (although, it should be mentioned that general manager George McPhee knows the tremendously well-liked and respected Ward from their time together in Washington).

On defense, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are the obvious guys to protect, with Justin Braun likely the third. That would leave Vegas the option of selecting Brenden Dillon or David Schlemko, both of which are under contract for the next three seasons. If I were running the Vegas team, I’d target one of those two (Paul Martin would also be availabe in that scenario, but at 36 years old, he probably wouldn't make sense).

The protected lists are expected to be made public on June 18.

Any news on re-signing [Micheal] Haley? (Nik @niknisj25)

It's my understanding there is mutual interest from both parties about a potential return for Haley, but nothing is imminent. If something does get done with Haley, it would likely be after the expansion draft and after the team determines what is happening with Thornton/Marleau, but it’s still notable that the two sides have at least had some preliminary discussions.

One option, though, might be for the Sharks to re-sign Haley soon and make him available for the expansion draft, if they decide they would rather protect someone like Ward. Every team needs to expose at least two forwards that played in at least 40 games last season, or 70 games in the past two seasons. Haley would qualify.

Knowing what we know now, was the trade for [Jannik] Hansen a good or bad move? (Scott Hansen @SheboyganScottH)

If Hansen were a pending UFA this summer I would say it was a bad move, but this is still a player that has a year left on his contract at a very reasonable $2 million salary. He might not have had the impact that the organization hoped for this season, with two goals and five assists in 15 games and one assist in six playoff games, but he’ll get a full training camp under his belt next season and I still like what he brings to the table. This is a team that needed some more scoring depth than it got this season, and Hansen can still bring that in 2017-18.

Also, it’s not like Nikolay Goldobin showed that he’s ready for the NHL yet in his limited time in Vancouver at the end of the year. It's looking more and more likely that he'll never break through in the best league in the world.

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.”