Brenden Dillon

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 11:  Patrick Marleau #12 of the San Jose Sharks is congratulated by teammate Joe Thornton #19 after he scored in the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers on February 11, 2017 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Sharks have reason to wait on Thornton, Marleau extensions

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Two of San Jose’s most important and longest-tenured players, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, are set to become unrestricted free agents this summer.

Given the Sharks are in the midst of their Stanley Cup window — with Thornton and Marleau playing significant roles — it seems odd neither has put pen to paper on an extension yet.

But the Mercury News has a theory on why:

Here’s where it gets interesting. Next season, the NHL is adding a new team, the Vegas Golden Knights. That franchise will participate in an expansion draft. It will happen in June, a few days before the annual entry draft.  Each existing NHL team can protect either seven or eight forwards from being selected by the Golden Knights. However, pending unrestricted free agents will not be eligible for the expansion draft.

In other words, it behooves Wilson and the Sharks not to sign Marleau and Thornton until after the expansion draft. That way, the two players would not count toward the seven or eight forwards on the Sharks’ protected list (the exact number depends on choices the Sharks make at other positions.)

San Jose’s in a fairly unique position for the expansion draft. It is one of four teams not required to protect anybody — Calgary, St. Louis and Washington are the others — and, with the addition of the aforementioned Thornton-Marleau scenario, GM Doug Wilson would have serious flexibility when it comes to exposing players.

Not that he’s willing to divulge any information.

“My position is that I have no comment on that,” Wilson told the Mercury News. “People can anticipate and speculate about what our approach might be.”

ESPN touched on this potential scenario last month, noting that Wilson has some big decisions to make regardless if he chooses the seven forwards-three-defensemen-one goalie protected list, or the eight-skaters-and-a-goalie setup:

If you go 7-3-1, it means you protect just three defensemen — Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and probably Justin Braun — which then leaves Paul Martin, Brenden Dillon, Mirco Mueller and David Schlemko among those exposed.

What if the Sharks decide to go the 8-1 protection format route in order to protect four defensemen? That means only four forwards could be protected: Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl and then take your pick from either Mikkel Boedker, Joel Ward, Melker Karlsson or Chris Tierney. (Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc are exempt.)

The risk in letting Thornton and Marleau get to free agency, of course, is that someone makes an offer neither can refuse. But it could be a risk worth taking. It’s fair to assume any potential offer would have to be massive in scope, given Thorton’s and Marleau’s ties to the Bay Area — the latter has spent his entire 20-year career with the Sharks, while the former has been there for over a decade.

Right now, there’s not much information about what type of extensions San Jose is offering. ESPN reported Thornton is eyeing another three-year deal — his last was a three-year, $20.25 million contract — and things are almost entirely silent on the Marleau front.

Sharks lose DeMelo for eight weeks to broken wrist

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 19:  Dylan DeMelo #74 of the San Jose Sharks skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on October 19, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The San Jose Sharks announced on Friday morning that they will be without defenseman Dylan DeMelo for an extended period of time due to a broken wrist that he suffered on Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers.

He underwent surgery on Thursday and is expected to be sidelined for at least eight weeks.

Demelo, 23, was a sixth-round pick by the Sharks in 2011 and has appeared in 14 games for the team this season, scoring a goal and adding three assists. He has mostly played alongside veteran Brenden Dillon.

The injury happened in the first period of Tuesday’s game when he was hit behind the net by Oilers forward Zach Kassian.

He was replaced on Wednesday by rookie defenseman Tim Heed who was making his NHL debut.

Sharks recall Mueller, who’s been ‘excellent’ in the AHL

Mirco Mueller, Joe Vitale
AP

It’s getting to the point where Mirco Mueller is either going to make it with the San Jose Sharks, or he isn’t.

Mueller, the 18th overall pick in the 2013 draft, turned 21 in March. While that’s still young for a defenseman, it’s about the age where the Sharks should expect their first-round investment to start paying off.

And with injuries to David Schlemko and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Mueller may get a chance to show his stuff during a four-game road trip that starts Tuesday in Toronto. He was recalled today from the AHL’s Barracuda.

“All the reports out of the American League team were that that he’s been excellent,” said Sharks coach Pete DeBoer, per CSN Bay Area. “I think he’s really taken a step maturity-wise as a player and as a kid this year. Everybody’s saying that he looks like he’s ready for full-time NHL duty. … He’s a guy that belongs up here.”

Mueller has no goals and seven assists in 18 AHL games this season. He has 50 games of NHL experience, 39 of them in 2014-15 when he was perhaps rushed into the league as a teenager.

A left shot, there is opportunity for the native of Switzerland to advance in the Sharks’ organization. Paul Martin is 35 and may require fewer and easier minutes going forward. Vlasic, 29, only has two years left on his contract and will be expensive to re-sign. Brenden Dillon currently plays the left side on the third pairing and could theoretically be beaten out for a lineup spot.

But it remains to be seen if Mueller will make his season debut on this trip.

From CSN Bay Area’s story:

Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told reporters on Sunday that Vlasic had improved since Saturday but was still “day-to-day.” Last season, the Sharks were 7-7-1 without their defensive stalwart in the lineup.

Schlemko said on Thursday that he had hoped to play in one of the two Sharks games over the weekend, but that didn’t happen.

Mueller has taken warmups in each of the last two Sharks games, but has yet to make his season debut.

The Sharks (16-11-1) will also make stops in Ottawa, Montreal, and Chicago before returning home.

Sharks’ Dillon criticizes lengthy goal reviews

DALLAS, TX - APRIL 16: Referee Brad Meier #34 signals for a Dallas Stars goal against the Minnesota Wild after a review in the second period in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on April 16, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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If goal reviews in the NHL – and really any “challenge” process in sports – proves anything, it’s that there are times when you simply can’t make everyone happy.

With replays readily available online and with TV instant replay, fans can dissect missed calls – or calls they perceive as missed calls – as they fasten their tin foil hats.

So, the league decided to allow goals to be reviewed and … there are still plenty of people who are unhappy.

Take San Jose Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon, for instance. On Thursday, he had a goal disallowed, but he’s (allegedly) more steamed about the arduous eight-minute process to determine the no-goal.

“They obviously have to tweak a couple things,” Dillon said, according to the Mercury News. “Whether, hey, it’s a five-minute window. If you can’t find enough evidence in that five minutes, or that three minutes, which would be preferable for us players, instead of having your goalie sitting around. …

“It could be a big momentum shift if the call goes the opposite way, which it did. But it’s frustrating.”

If you’re the league, the instinct might be to reply with a mere ¯_(ツ)_/¯.

As Peter DeBoer notes in that same article, these are tough calls, and it’s important to get things right. Or as right as you can. We’re not ordering a Domino’s pizza here, right?

Anyway, check out the play in question and decide for yourself. And with no time limit.

San Jose Sharks’ defense looks very promising

SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 03:  Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues and Brent Burns #88 and Marc-Edouard Vlasic #44 of the San Jose Sharks go for the puck at SAP Center on January 3, 2015 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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In the long term, there are some questions about the San Jose Sharks’ defense.

For one thing, Brent Burns is due what could be a raise almost as big as his Burt’s Bees beard.

What’s even more troubling is, like the Sharks’ forwards, the defense’s upper ranks might see Father Time nipping at their heels. Burns is 31, Paul Martin is 35 and three defensemen are 29 in Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun and newly signed blueliner David Schlemko.

This isn’t to say that the Sharks will age as rapidly as Melisandre, but that group prompts more questions about how long San Jose’s window might be hope.

Quite a promising present

So, maybe it won’t be a strength forever … but wow, this group sure looks promising on paper heading into next season.

Burns gets the most attention thanks to his booming shot, strong all-around skills and bizarre presence, yet Team Canada isn’t oblivious to Vlasic’s subtler brilliance. Paul Martin might be slipping a bit, but he’s still a useful player.

The signing of Schlemko really ties the room together, though.

The point isn’t that Schlemko is a star or better than the likes of Jay Bouwmeester. The very different nature of their roles makes a comparison a little risky.

Instead, it argues that Schlemko is the sort of supporting cast player who can push the Sharks closer to having a quality defenseman on the ice during every shift.

Beyond those four blueliners, the Sharks have some interesting options. Braun enjoyed some nice playoff moments. Brenden Dillon has his flaws, but perhaps he’d flourish if used in more protected situations.

With Mirco Mueller and Dylan DeMelo among those waiting in the wings, it’s not as though the Sharks are totally devoid of young talent on defense.

In an age where it almost feels like teams would give up vital organs for difference-makers on defense, San Jose’s group looks primed to rank among the elite. After struggling when the likes of Roman Polak were caught in bad situations, the Sharks have a great chance to trot out a remarkably balanced group in 2016-17.