NHL Entry Draft need-to-knows

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NHL Entry Draft need-to-knows

The 2012 NHL Entry Draft takes place on Friday and Saturday this weekend in Pittsburgh, PA. The first round commences at 4:00 p.m. PST on Friday and will be broadcast in the United States on the NBC Sports Network, while rounds two through seven are on Saturday starting 7:00 a.m. on the NHL Network.Here are a few things to know
The Sharks have the 17th overall pick in the first round, and 55th overall pick in the second round. Should they use them both, it will be the first time since 2007 they have drafted two players in the top two rounds. That year, the Sharks drafted Logan Couture (ninth overall) and Nick Petrecki (28th overall), both in the first round.The Sharks have never drafted in the 17th position, and should they keep the pick, it will be the highest theyve drafted since they chose Couture in 2007.San Jose has a total of six picks, including one choice in the fifth round, one in the sixth and two in the seventh. It currently has no third or fourth round choice.Current Sharks drafted by the club (who finished the season on the active roster) include Tommy Wingels (2008, 6th round); Jason Demers (2008, 7th round); Couture, Justin Braun (2007, 7th round); Marc-Edouard Vlasic (2005, 2nd round); Thomas Greiss (2004, 3rd round); Torrey Mitchell (2004; 4th round); Joe Pavelski (2003, 7th round); Ryane Clowe (2001, 6th round); Douglas Murray (1999, 8th round); and Patrick Marleau (1997, 1st round). Brad Stuart was drafted third overall by the Sharks in 1998.Nashville picks 37th overall in the second round. The pick originally belonged to Minnesota, was sent to San Jose as part of the Brent Burns trade last summer, and then flipped to Tampa Bay in return for Dominic Moore. The Predators acquired the pick as part of the trade for goalie Anders Lindback earlier this month.The draft returns to Pittsburgh for the first time since 1997, when Joe (Boston) and Marleau were the top two picks, respectively.Thornton is the lone player from the 1997 draft to accumulate more than 1,000 career points (1,078), and his 754 assists also ranks first. Marleau leads in games played (1,117).The Sharks other first round pick in 1997 in Pittsburgh was Scott Hannan (23rd overall).Nine players from the 2011 draft played in the NHL this past season, including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Round 1, Pick 1); Gabriel Landeskog (Round 1, Pick 2); Adam Larsson (Round 1, Pick 4); Sean Couturier (Round 1, Pick 8); and Andrew Shaw (Round 5, Pick 139).The Consol Energy Center opened on August 2, 2010, with the first game on Oct. 7 vs. Philadelphia.The Sharks have played just one game at Consol Energy Center, the new home of the Penguins. They won 3-2 on Feb. 23, 2011, led by two goals from Marleau. They did not visit Pittsburgh this past season.The statue of Mario Lemieux outside of the Consol Energy Center took 15 months
to design and construct, and was transported across the country from California to Pittsburgh on a flat bed truck over six days.Three teams have a pair of first round picks: Washington, Buffalo and Tampa Bay. Washingtons 11 picks total is a league-high.

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 its 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.”