Joonas Donskoi

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Sharks begin 1st training camp without Marleau in 21 years

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) There was something familiar missing in San Jose when the Sharks opened training camp.

For the first time since 1996, the Sharks took the ice for their first training camp practice without Patrick Marleau on the team as the franchise’s career leader in games and scoring left as a free agent for Toronto this summer.

“I’ve spent a lot of years with him. It is kind of strange,” said Joe Thornton, who came to San Jose in 2005. “It’s his birthday today too. It’s a little weird, but he’s going to do great up in Toronto.”

Marleau had been with San Jose since being picked second overall in 1997 but left the Sharks to sign an $18.75 million, three-year deal with the Maple Leafs in July.

Marleau has 508 goals and 574 assists for 1,082 points. He had 46 points in playing all 82 games last season as he rebounded from a disappointing 2015-16 season by scoring 27 goals, including the 500th of his career. He ranks first in San Jose in career goals, games and points.

Only six players in NHL history have played more games with one team than Marleau’s 1,493 in San Jose. The Sharks haven’t played a game without him on the ice since April 7, 2009.

“Obviously Patty has meant so much to this organization and this group,” captain Joe Pavelski said. “Everyone in this room has pretty much played with him and Patty has done something to help them out. He’ll be missed. … Just by committee somebody will step in and fill that kind of hole. That’s what we’ll need.”

The Sharks made no major additions this offseason so will need to replace Marleau’s 27 goals by getting development from younger players like Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Danny O'Regan, as well as bounce-back seasons from veterans like Thornton, Mikkel Boedker and Joonas Donskoi.

Only Pavelski, Logan Couture and Brent Burns are back after scoring more than 12 goals last season.

“When I look back at last year we had key people either have down years or miss significant time with injuries or coming off injuries,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “I think if we can stay healthy I think we’ve got a large group of guys that can really take a step this year and I expect a step out of them.”

While the Sharks lost Marleau in free agency, they did manage to keep Thornton by giving him a one-year, $8 million contract despite dwindling production last season and offseason knee surgery.

He scored just seven goals – his fewest in an 82-game season since his rookie year in 1997-98 – and was a key part of a power-play unit that uncharacteristically struggled last season. But he still managed 43 assists, teaming with captain Joe Pavelski on San Jose’s top line.

Thornton missed the final week of the regular season and the first two playoff games with a left knee injury before returning for the final four games of a first-round loss to Edmonton. Thornton then underwent surgery to repair his MCL and ACL after the season but was back skating in August and started ramping it up for training camp two weeks ago. Thornton believes the lower-body work he did in rehab this offseason will pay dividends on the ice.

“They feel real strong,” he said of his legs. “I feel a lot of pop out there. They’re probably as strong as they’ve ever been just because I had to rehab that knee so much.”

 

Sharks keep stockpiling European free agents, land Sandberg

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Doug Wilson is at it again.

On Thursday, the Sharks GM confirmed yesterday’s news — the signing of Czech d-man Radim Simek — and announced that Swedish forward Filip Sandberg had agreed to a two-year deal.

“Filip is a very creative player who sees the ice well and can create offense in limited space,” Wilson said in a release. “He plays a high-pressure, puck-pursuit game and his battle level is something we have been impressed with, especially against older players.

“We are excited for him to join our organization.”

Sandberg, 22, is fresh off a Swedish League title with HV71. The club announced Sandberg would be headed overseas last week, but didn’t divulge what team had signed him.

It wasn’t surprising NHL clubs had interest. Sandberg had a good offensive campaign in Sweden, scoring 25 points in 52 regular season games, then broke out for six goals and 14 points in 16 playoff contests.

Prior to this year, Sandberg twice represented Sweden at the World Juniors, including the 2013 tournament where the country won silver. He finished with two goals in six games playing alongside the likes of Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, Elias Lindholm and Victor Rask.

As for Simek, he inked a one-year deal.

“Radim is a quick transition defenseman who drives the play offensively and plays with a physical edge,” said Wilson. “We like his offensive instincts especially on special teams and think his game will translate well in North America.”

Simek just finished representing his native Czech Republic at the World Hockey Championship, where he had two points in eight games.

According to a report from Radio Praha, the Sharks beat out the Rangers to acquire Simek. Passed over in his draft year, the 24-year-old has spent his entire pro career with Liberec Bili Tygri.

As mentioned above, Wilson has done well finding European skaters in their early-to-mid-20s, ones that can contribute right away at the NHL level: Melker Karlsson, Joonas Donskoi and Marcus Sorensen, most specifically.

The hope now is that Simek and Sandberg will continue that trend.

Report: Sharks sign Czech d-man Simek

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San Jose’s had good success scouting European leagues in recent years, and the club is hopeful that trend continued on Monday.

The Sharks have signed d-man Radim Simek out of the Czech League, per NBC Sports California. It’s a one-year, two-way pact for the 24-year-old, who just finished representing his native Czech Republic at the World Hockey Championship.

Simek had two points in eight games for the Czechs.

According to a report out of Radio Praha, the Sharks beat out the Rangers to acquire Simek. Passed over in his draft year, Simek has spent his entire pro career with Liberec Bili Tygri.

As mentioned above, Sharks GM Doug Wilson has done well finding European skaters in their early-to-mid-20s, ones that contribute right away at the NHL level: Melker Karlsson, Joonas Donskoi and Marcus Sorensen, most specifically.

Sharks extend Karlsson (three years, $6M) and Donskoi (two years, $3.8M)

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Earlier this week, we passed along a report that San Jose was close to inking Melker Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi to multi-year contract extensions.

On Friday, the deals became official.

Karlsson has inked a three-year extension while Donskoi gets a two-year, the Sharks announced. Per TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, Karlsson’s is a $6 million pact ($2M average annual cap hit) while Donskoi’s is for $3.8 million ($1.9M hit).

Karlsson, 26, was plucked from the Swedish League three years ago and has evolved into a dependable two-way forward in San Jose. He’s posted double-digits in goals in three straight years.

“Melker plays an up-tempo, high-energy game and brings flexibility to our lineup wherever he plays,” GM Doug Wilson said in a release. “His tenacious style of play fits our team perfectly, and we feel confident using him in many different situations. He kills penalties, can play with high-end players and brings an honest effort night in and night out. We’re excited he has made this commitment to the organization.”

Donskoi, 25, was signed out of the Finnish League two years ago. He had a solid rookie campaign for the Sharks before injuries played a role in his disappointing sophomore campaign. After scoring 11 goals and 36 points in his first year, Donskoi had just six and 11 this season (though he was limited to just 61 games played).

“Joonas plays a solid two-way game, combining his skill and creativity with an aggressive, hard-working effort in all three zones,” said Wilson. “He plays the game the way we want to play as a team, and we feel he has only scratched the surface of his abilities. He battled through multiple injuries last season and we look forward to having him healthy at training camp this season.”

The deals are good value for San Jose, and nice raises for both players. Karlsson’s last deal paid $1.65 million annually while Donskoi’s came in at $925,000.

 

Report: Sharks close to multi-year extensions with Karlsson, Donskoi

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San Jose is on the verge of locking in two of its better depth forwards.

Per sources of the Mercury News’ Paul Gackle, the Sharks are close to multi-year extensions with Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. Both are pending RFAs.

The two are similar, in that GM Doug Wilson pried them out of top-flight European leagues at advanced ages.

Donskoi was signed out of the Finnish League at 23, and had a solid rookie campaign for the Sharks before injuries played a role in his disappointing sophomore campaign. After scoring 11 goals and 36 points in his first year, Donskoi had just six and 11 this season (though he was limited to just 61 games played).

Karlsson was plucked from the Swedish League, also at 23, and has evolved into a dependable two-way forward in San Jose. He’s posted double-digits in goals in three straight years though, like Donskoi, he battled injury in ’16-17 and only played 67 times.

It will be curious to see what kind of money and term the pair get. Karlsson’s last deal paid $1.65 million annually while Donskoi’s came in at $925,000 — both pretty good bargains.

Wilson will undoubtedly need to pay them more this time around. But having said that, Wilson also needs to be mindful of what’s down the road — big financial decisions to be made with veteran UFAs Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.