Important dates on the horizon for NHL, Sharks


Important dates on the horizon for NHL, Sharks

A critical couple of weeks for the future of the Sharks franchise are on the horizon, as the club must determine how to shape its roster for next season and beyond.

Here is a rundown of some important dates on the calendar – and how they may affect the Sharks – in a unique offseason that features an addition to the NHL’s family of franchises.

June 18 – Expansion draft protected lists released; Vegas can talk to free agents

General manager Doug Wilson has yet to say whether the Sharks will protect seven skaters, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters and one goalie for the expansion draft. We’ll find out this Sunday, as the league will release the protected lists from all 30 NHL teams.

That date also opens a brief window in which the Golden Knights can speak with pending free agents that are left unprotected. For example, they would be permitted to reach out to the camps of Joe Thornton and/or Patrick Marleau, assuming the Sharks don't protect either one.

June 21 – Golden Knights roster revealed; NHL Awards

Vegas’ selections are due by 7 a.m., and its roster be unveiled at the NHL Awards show later that night in Las Vegas. If the Sharks don’t come to some sort of agreement with them in the days and hours leading up to deadline, the Golden Knights will select one of the players on the Sharks’ roster that is left unprotected.

The Norris Trophy will also be presented that night, with Brent Burns likely to become the first Sharks player to ever be named as the best defenseman in the league.

June 23-24 – NHL Entry Draft

This year’s draft takes place over two days at Chicago’s United Center. The first round begins at 4:00 p.m. on Friday (NBCSN), while rounds two-through-seven are on Saturday morning beginning at 7:00 a.m. (NHL Network).

The Sharks still own their first round pick at 19th overall. They do not have any second, third or fourth round picks, but own one fifth round pick (143), two sixth round picks (159 and 174) and three seventh round picks (205, 212, 214).

June 25 – Free agents permitted to speak with other teams; deadline to qualify restricted free agents

If none of the Sharks current unrestricted free agents are signed by this date, they are allowed to speak with other teams that may be interested in inking them to deals on July 1. At this point, it appears likely that both the Thornton and Marleau camps will wait and see what other offers could be out there before making any decisions.

As for their restricted free agents, the Sharks have a few that are not yet signed that but will surely be qualified in Chris Tierney and Marcus Sorensen. Other notable RFAs likely to be qualified include Mirco Mueller, Tim Heed, Joakim Ryan and Barclay Goodrow.

July 1 – Free agency begins

Typically the most intriguing day of the offseason, unrestricted free agents are free to sign wherever they like beginning at 9 a.m. It will be particularly interesting to Sharks fans if Thornton and/or Marleau are not signed by this date, because if that’s the case they could very well move on to other organizations before the day is over. Other notable UFAs include Micheal Haley and Ryan Carpenter.

This is also the date that the Sharks are allowed to sign goalie Marin Jones and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long-term contract extensions, as they both enter the last year of their current deals in 2017-18. All indications are that the talks with both have gone smoothly so far for two players that are expected to help form the core of the team for the next several seasons.

* * *

The Sharks released their six-game 2017 preseason schedule, featuring a pair of games against the Golden Knights:

Sep. 19: Sharks vs. Anaheim (SAP Center)
Sep. 21: Sharks vs. Vegas (SAP Center)
Sep. 23: Sharks at Arizona (Gila River Arena)
Sep. 28: Sharks at Anaheim (Honda Center)
Sep. 30: Sharks vs. Arizona (SAP Center)
Oct. 1: Sharks @ Vegas (T-Mobile Arena)

The full 82-game regular season schedule will reportedly be released on June 22.

Sharks start training camp with familiar face elsewhere: ‘It’s kind of strange’


Sharks start training camp with familiar face elsewhere: ‘It’s kind of strange’

SAN JOSE — There was something familiar missing in San Jose when the Sharks opened training camp.

For the first time since 1996, the Sharks took the ice for their first training camp practice without Patrick Marleau on the team as the franchise's career leader in games and scoring left as a free agent for Toronto this summer.

"I've spent a lot of years with him. It is kind of strange," said Joe Thornton, who came to San Jose in 2005. "It's his birthday today too. It's a little weird, but he's going to do great up in Toronto."

Marleau had been with San Jose since being picked second overall in 1997 but left the Sharks to sign an $18.75 million, three-year deal with the Maple Leafs in July.

Marleau has 508 goals and 574 assists for 1,082 points. He had 46 points in playing all 82 games last season as he rebounded from a disappointing 2015-16 season by scoring 27 goals, including the 500th of his career. He ranks first in San Jose in career goals, games and points.

Only six players in NHL history have played more games with one team than Marleau's 1,493 in San Jose. The Sharks haven't played a game without him on the ice since April 7, 2009.

"Obviously Patty has meant so much to this organization and this group," captain Joe Pavelski said. "Everyone in this room has pretty much played with him and Patty has done something to help them out. He'll be missed. ... Just by committee somebody will step in and fill that kind of hole. That's what we'll need."

The Sharks made no major additions this offseason so will need to replace Marleau's 27 goals by getting development from younger players like Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Danny O'Regan, as well as bounce-back seasons from veterans like Thornton, Mikkel Boedker and Joonas Donskoi.

Only Pavelski, Logan Couture and Brent Burns are back after scoring more than 12 goals last season.

"When I look back at last year we had key people either have down years or miss significant time with injuries or coming off injuries," coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think if we can stay healthy I think we've got a large group of guys that can really take a step this year and I expect a step out of them."

While the Sharks lost Marleau in free agency, they did manage to keep Thornton by giving him a one-year, $8 million contract despite dwindling production last season and offseason knee surgery.

He scored just seven goals — his fewest in an 82-game season since his rookie year in 1997-98 — and was a key part of a power-play unit that uncharacteristically struggled last season. But he still managed 43 assists, teaming with captain Joe Pavelski on San Jose's top line.

Thornton missed the final week of the regular season and the first two playoff games with a left knee injury before returning for the final four games of a first-round loss to Edmonton. Thornton then underwent surgery to repair his MCL and ACL after the season but was back skating in August and started ramping it up for training camp two weeks ago. Thornton believes the lower-body work he did in rehab this offseason will pay dividends on the ice.

"They feel real strong," he said of his legs. "I feel a lot of pop out there. They're probably as strong as they've ever been just because I had to rehab that knee so much."

Sharks Media Day highlights: Beards, smiles & cup checks


Sharks Media Day highlights: Beards, smiles & cup checks

The boys were back together in San Jose on Thursday for Sharks Media Day, with plenty of smiles and moments of levity. Check out the highlights...

Hey Jumbo, you dropped something. 👖🤷‍♂️

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Martin Jones is pretty good at photobombs 📸💣

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🤳 Media Day #SJSharks

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New season. New commercials. 🕉🚌📺 #ComingSoon #SharksForLife

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