James Sheppard

Shall we dance again? Sharks acquire James Sheppard from Wild for 2013 third round pick

For the third time this offseason, the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild have completed a trade. Unlike their previous two deals, this one is just a blip on the radar screen as San Jose acquires forward James Sheppard from Minnesota in exchange for a 2013 third round pick.

If you can’t recall seeing much of Sheppard last season, it’s because you didn’t see him at all as he was knocked out for the year after suffering a knee injury in an ATV accident last September. Now that he’s healed up and run out of chances in Minnesota, the Sharks are taking a chance on him that a change of scenery will be just what he needs to not become a full draft bust.

The 2006 first round pick, ninth overall, has had three sub-par seasons with the Wild scoring just 11 goals in 224 games played and totaling 49 points in that time. Sheppard was taken ahead of NHL studs like Michael Grabner, Chris Stewart, and Claude Giroux and after the Wild and former GM Doug Risebrough rushed Sheppard to the NHL at age 19, he’s suffered for it both in fitting into the Wild system and with injuries.

Going to San Jose will give Sheppard an opportunity to turn things around for himself. While the Sharks’ top six forwards are more than set, Michal Handzus and Torrey Mitchell are about the only sure things on their third or fourth lines. With a host of youth eager to win ice time, Sheppard has a chance under coach Todd McLellan to win his favor and find a home on what should be a very good Sharks team.

This trade may not stick out in many people’s memories when compared to the other deals the Wild and Sharks have done. During the 2011 NHL Draft, the teams first paired up to see the Sharks send Devin Setoguchi and prospect Charlie Coyle to Minnesota for Brent Burns. Burns then signed a five year contract extension with the Sharks to make that deal stand out. Later, they did a blockbuster deal sending Dany Heatley to Minnesota in exchange for Martin Havlat.

Safe to say that James Sheppard doesn’t stand out with those other names, but if he asserts himself and finds a home in San Jose and realizes that first round talent, he could be a great pick up for the Sharks. That’s all up to him, however, and he’s got to prove he’s serious about making it in the league. His game in Minnesota certainly never showed that. Here’s to hoping he can at least stay away from the ATV’s in northern California.

Video: Ryan Suter doesn’t seem very happy with his coach


As you can see in the video, apparently Ryan Suter doesn’t like being paired with fellow lefty Jonas Brodin.

The Wild defenseman rather openly questioned the coaching staff’s decision-making today after practice.

“Yeah, I don’t know what they’re thinking,” said Suter. “I need to play with a right-handed defenseman. To give me more options. Neutral zone. Offensively. And even coming out of the D zone, it’s not fair to put a guy on his off side.”

Suter didn’t know if the pairings were just for practice or not. The Wild play tomorrow in Chicago. Minnesota has just one win in its last seven games.

Suter also had something to say about that.

“It does no good to pout and get pissed off at each other,” said Suter. “You’ve got to come together and dig out of this. Now’s when you need leadership more than ever. It’s easy to be a coach and a leader when things are going good.”

Yeo, by the way, has not been very happy with the Wild lately.  In fact, one could go so far as to say he’s been acting pretty “pissed off.”

For example, at today’s practice:

The Star Tribune has more on what went down today.

Yeo, you may recall, went a little “nuts” during a Wild practice last season.

Goalie nods: Sparks to make NHL debut for Leafs

Garett Sparks
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We already knew this yesterday, but in case you missed it, Garret Sparks will make his NHL debut in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight against Edmonton.

Sparks, 22, has been excellent in the AHL this season, going 8-2-1 with a .938 save percentage. He spent most of last season in the ECHL, where he also posted good numbers.

Sparks is getting the nod tonight because James Reimer is hurt and Jonathan Bernier has been struggling badly.

“He’s got an opportunity like lots of kids have had before him and it’s up to him to grab it,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said, per NHL.com. “He’s got the [second-best] save percentage in the AHL and he’s winning all the time down there. Obviously we’re in need of some saves and we’ll have to play well in front of him for sure. But it’s an opportunity for him.”

Bernier, meanwhile, will have to sit and watch. The 27-year-old has allowed at least four goals in four of his last five starts. His save percentage has fallen all the way to .888.

Anders Nilsson will be in net for the Oilers.


Cam Ward for the Hurricanes. Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers, who will try not to rely on him so much.

Semyon Varlamov for the Avs. Thomas Greiss for the Isles.

— The Canucks aren’t saying if it’ll be Ryan Miller of Jacob Markstrom. For the Ducks, it’ll be John Gibson.

Vigneault: ‘After three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention’

Alain Vigneault
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Alain Vigneault has maintained for much of the season that the New York Rangers needed to play better.

The head coach said it a week ago, after the Blueshirts had beaten the Predators, 3-0, despite getting outshot, 31-19.

He’d said it a couple of weeks before that, after they’d beaten the Hurricanes in very similar fashion. (Final score: 3-0. Shots: 33-23 for Carolina.)

But as long as the Rangers kept winning, it was tough, according to Vigneault, to get the message across.

“Sometimes, the results might be going your way, so when you’re pointing out certain things, it might be a little bit more challenging for them to understand because the results are so positive,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.

“But after three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention.”

Derek Stepan‘s injury — he’ll miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs — has no doubt captured their attention as well. (Oscar Lindberg will center Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast tonight at home to Carolina.)

The Rangers also play Wednesday, in Brooklyn against the Islanders (on NBCSN).

Benn, Holtby and Galchenyuk are NHL’s three stars of the week

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Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From NHL.com:

Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.

Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.

Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.

As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.