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Sharks Have a Quietly Busy Week

(Originally published at Sports Radio Service)

The Sharks had a busy, if low-profile, week. A date has been set for later this month for Jason Demers’ arbitration hearing. Demers and the team can come to terms before that if they are so inclined. It would probably be best for all if they did so. The market is pretty good for right-handed defensemen, especially young ones.

The Sharks added a few names to next season’s roster this week. James Sheppard’s one year contract was announced, as was defenseman Scott Hannan’s. Defenseman Matt Tennyson was signed to a two-year deal.

The Sharks also brought a couple of new faces into the fold on one year contracts. Micheal Haley, last of the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. Between the NY Rangers and the NY Islanders, Haley has played 52 NHL games. Last season he had seven goals, eleven assists and 131 penalty minutes. Bryan Lerg was captain of the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters last season. He had 12 goals and 13 assists.

The return of Scott Hannan is not surprising. His contract is modest (one year at one million), and he could be a good voice in the room. For all the talk of giving more responsibility to the younger players, it would have been out of character for the Sharks to not have someone over 30 on the blue line. Is that a character they need to change? Perhaps. Do they need someone of any particular age? Probably not. I do remember thinking that Hannan was one of the few players who seemed calmly angry about the way last season ended. He didn’t seem baffled or stunned, just pissed off– in a polite way of course. So I don’t think keeping him is a bad idea.

Apart from the still confusing addition of John Scott to the roster, the Sharks seem to be proceeding according to plan. They have made no splashy free agency moves, despite the tempting fat wad of cap space they still have in their pocket. They have given the longest contracts so far to Tommy Wingels (three years) and Matt Tennyson (two). That shows some faith in home-grown youth. Keeping James Sheppard instead of bringing in another veteran forward likewise fits with the youth emphasis.

Doug Wilson recently clarified his use of the term “rebuild.” That is a good thing, because there were a lot of people thinking he had gone crazy. Evidently he still expects the team to make the playoffs, and to have a fairly good regular season. To me, that means no one is leaning on Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau to get them to leave. Lose either of those guys without bringing in someone pretty spectacular and you will have a tough go.

That doesn’t mean I’m not indulging in baseless speculation. Like, wouldn’t it be grand if the Sharks were very very quietly maneuvering to get Evander Kane? Someone probably will get him from Winnipeg and he could be a pretty spectacular addition anywhere. He’s not worth the price of a veteran scoring leader right now, but it’s a fun thought.

Speaking of new leadership and youth, the Sharks prospect scrimmage was a pleasant break in the off-season rumor-mill.

The event at SAP Center was well-attended for a midsummer scrimmage between players most Sharks fans have not had a chance to become familiar with. Around the ten minute mark of the first period, some fans at the end of the rink did a little “Let’s Go Sharks” chant. That was a supportive gesture. The parking lot was nearly full when I arrived, and the lower bowl was probably 60%-70% full.

It was nice to be able to see the prospects live. Mirco Mueller’s skating, as promised, was noteworthy. He had a nice stride and smooth confidence.

On camera and from a distance, Barclay Goodrow reminded me of Tommy Wingels. I don’t know why.

I thought Ryan Carpenter and Brock Higgs made a good pair around the net, very hard to get rid of.

Petter Emanuelsson had nice hands, handling the puck cleanly through traffic.

Scott Savage stood out for persistence in one fairly extended puck battle. Several times it looked like he had lost it but he kept at it and got away with the puck.

Noah Rod looked very quick and shifty making his way through traffic.

The prospect scrimmage was equipped with video review. With 6:03 left in the second, a puck bounced over Bergvik’s pad and just over the line before he swiped it back out with his glove. The referee on the ice called it a no goal (we did not hear the explanation) but after showing the play a couple of times on the jumbotron, they gave team white the goal. It was scored by Noah Rod. It was ultimately the game-winner.

If Sharks fans are up in arms about how the playoffs ended or how the off-season is going so far, they didn’t show it Wednesday night.

 

That makes me wonder how the rumor that the Sharks might move out of the Bay Area could have gained any traction at all. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If they need to take Comcast to court, they should do it. If their contract is as bad as it sounds, they should be able to get it modified.

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