Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton

GM Wilson suggests Sharks might need to ‘take one step backwards’


The San Jose Sharks have advanced to the postseason for 10 consecutive seasons and if they stay the course, they will probably continue to make the playoffs for many years to come. That’s not what San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson is ultimately after though.

“This is a team that’s accomplished quite a bit over the last decade, but regular season success has not gotten us to that ultimate playoff success that we all talk about,” Wilson told CSN Bay Area. “We haven’t gotten to that level. We’ve had [seven] 100-point seasons (since 2003-04), we’ve had three final four appearances, we’ve had 20 playoff rounds.

“That all sounds nice, and the players and coaches deserve credit for that, but we have not gotten to where we need to get to.

“And, I think to do that, you have to take one step backwards to be in a position to go two steps forward.”

Wilson has already made it clear that defenseman Dan Boyle or forward Martin Havlat won’t be back and he wants Brent Burns to shift back to defense, but that might just be the beginning of the Sharks’ makeover.

He wants the team to get younger and while he didn’t go into detail about the possibility of making trades, he did counter the argument that players like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau would be difficult to move because of their reported no-movement clauses.

“We don’t have that many restrictive contracts, and a lot of the details in those contracts have flexibility and windows to them,” Wilson said.

He also made it clear that nothing was off the table and promised “more drastic (moves) than putting a Band-Aid on it,” per the San Jose Mercury News.

The presence of Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture insure that the Sharks will remain dangerous offensively if one or both of Thornton and Marleau are traded. The team also had some promising rookies this season in forwards Tomas Hertl and Matt Nieto.

With Marleau and Thornton both set to turn 35 before the start of the 2014-15 campaign, the window of opportunity to win with them is closing. Perhaps it would be better for the Sharks long-term future if they focused on trying to get something significant in return for them while that’s a possibility.

Still, Wilson has stuck with them through previous summers following disappointing playoff runs. This one might prove to be no different in that regard.


Sharks owner ‘very disappointed,’ but McLellan’s job is safe

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.