Joe Pavelski

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Sedins helped sell Sharks on putting Hansen with Thornton, Pavelski

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San Jose had an idea that trade deadline acquisition Jannik Hansen would be a good fit on the club’s top line next to Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.

But a word from Hansen’s ex-Canucks teammates — Daniel and Henrik Sedin — cemented it.

From CSN Bay area:

According [Sharks head coach] Pete DeBoer, assistant Johan Hedberg “got a note from one of the Sedins” that Hansen “would be a real good fit with those two guys. That just reinforced it,” said the coach.

Hansen has been a nice fit since making his Sharks debut on March 9. While he hasn’t exactly racked up the points — just one assist, in his first game — the club is 3-1-0 since acquiring him, and Pavelski said the 31-year-old Dane has been a nice compliment to the line.

To hear Hansen explain it, playing with Joe and Joe is a lot like playing with Danny and Hank.

“[Pavelski and Thornton] play the same way as a couple guys in Vancouver,” Hansen said, referring to the twins. “They want the puck, they want to hold on to it, they want to make the plays. For me, it’s fairly simple as to how I’m playing.

“It’s the same thing – digging pucks out, going to the net, getting pucks back for them.”

Hansen often played alongside the Sedins in recent years. When he scored a career-high 22 goals during the ’15-16 campaign, one or both of the twins routinely provided primary/secondary assists.

Hansen will look for his first goal in teal-and-black tonight, when the Sharks host the Blues in San Jose.

 

Jannik Hansen practices on Sharks’ top line

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Jannik Hansen is starting right at the top.

At today’s Sharks practice, the speedy winger, acquired last week in a trade with the Canucks, was skating on San Jose’s top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.

Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, and Mikkel Boedker comprised the second line. Then came the trio of Joonas Donskoi, Tomas Hertl, and Melker Karlsson. And finally, on the fourth line, it was Marcus Sorensen, Chris Tierney, and Joel Ward.

That Hansen is starting on the top line should come as no surprise. The 30-year-old spent time in Vancouver with the Sedin twins on the Canucks’ top line. And if it’s not a fit with Thornton and Pavelski in San Jose, Hansen has the versatility to play further down the lineup.

Hansen is expected to make his San Jose debut tomorrow against the visiting Washington Capitals.

The Sharks also assigned forward Kevin Labanc to the AHL today.

Related: Hansen adds more speed to Sharks, who were already faster

Thornton gets 1,000th assist as Sharks hurt Jets’ playoff chances

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If you’re in the mood to troll a San Jose Sharks fan celebrating Joe Thornton‘s 1,000th assist and a nice win, note that the team indirectly helped the hated Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Yes, by beating the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in regulation, they improved the outlook for other West wild card hopefuls, from the Stars and Kings to other teams like the St. Louis Blues.

Of course, the Sharks also fattened their lead in the Pacific to the point that it’s looking like a pretty robust edge, so you probably won’t get much mileage out of trolling. Here’s how the race for the last West spot looks now:

Final wild card spot in West: Blues, 69 points in 64 games

Kings – 68 in 65 GP
Jets – 66 in 67 GP
Stars – 64 in 66 GP (after beating the Capitals)
Canucks – 63 in 65 GP

Nights like these make you wonder if it will ultimately come down to the Kings vs. Blues, especially with the Calgary Flames more interested in seeding in the Pacific than wild card concerns at 76 points. Winnipeg’s chances of making a real push took a blow in this one.

Meanwhile, Thornton became the 13th player to collect at least 1,000 assists. There was some nice symmetry to “Jumbo Joe” doing so in his 900th game as a member of the Sharks (1,432 overall).

It came on an empty-netter scored by … you probably guessed it, Joe Pavelski:

NBC and NBCSN have you covered for Hockey Day in America

With two games on NBC and then two more on NBCSN, your Sunday should be jam-packed with Hockey Day in America action. A look at the hockey hotbed of Warroad, Minnesota adds a delectable cherry on top, too.

If you need a guide to this party of pucks and patriotism, look no further than this post.

Washington Capitals at New York Rangers, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC

John Carlson, T.J. Oshie and the dominant Capitals take on Ryan McDonagh and the Blueshirts. The Metropolitan Division represents some of the NHL’s upper crust, so don’t be fooled by the Rangers being the first wild card while the Caps are tops in the East; both of these teams can go. Kenny Albert and Brian Boucher will be there to call the action.

MORE: For Oshie, ties to Warroad run deep

Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins, 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC

Mike “Doc” Emrick and Eddie Olczyk will be in the booth for this battle between teams that met in back-to-back Stanley Cup Final series in 2008 and 2009. Along with usual suspects like Sidney Crosby and Henrik Zetterberg, these teams feature American scorers such as Dylan Larkin and, of course, Phil Kessel.

Chicago Blackhawks at Buffalo Sabres, 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN

The action shifts to NBCSN as Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks hope to teach Jack Eichel and the upstart Sabres a lesson or two. The Blackhawks are in playoff position, as usual, while Buffalo is rallying to try to make a push of its own. Gord Miller and Joe Micheletti will be your guides.

MORE: Islanders forward Brock Nelson’s journey from Warroad to the NHL

Boston Bruins at San Jose Sharks, 8:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Hockey Day in America’s coverage closes off with this matchup between David Backes‘ Bruins and Joe Pavelski‘s Sharks. Randy Hahn, Andy Brickley and Bret Hedican will take you through this match between the Pacific Division’s top team and a Bruins team fighting to stick in the East playoff picture.

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.