Brent Burns

It’s San Jose Sharks Day at PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The San Jose Sharks.

After suffering a reverse sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, Sharks GM Doug Wilson declared San Jose a “tomorrow team” in a summer that drew confusion and criticism from some, but went “exactly the right way,” according to the general manager. When all was said and done though, the result that San Jose missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

At the age of 35, Patrick Marleau took a significant step back offensively as he scored just 19 goals after reaching the 30-goal milestone for five straight campaigns, not including the lockout shortened season. Joe Thornton, who turned 36 in July, also saw a longstanding streak end as he recorded less than 70 points (65) in a season where he played in at least 70 games for the first time since 1999-2000.

San Jose still wasn’t bad offensively. Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture recorded 70 and 67 points respectively while Brent Burns tied for second among defensemen with 60 points. The Sharks just weren’t great in that regard though and their goaltending proved to be uninspired as well. Antti Niemi was a mixed bag and Alex Stalock, who had been a superb understudy in 2013-14, declined substantially last season.

With mediocrity being the Sharks’ calling card at both ends of the ice, they finished with a 40-33-9 record and were eight points behind Calgary for the third Pacific Division spot.

Off-season recap

Head coach Todd McLellan and the San Jose Sharks mutually agreed to part ways after failing to make the playoffs, which led to Peter DeBoer being named as the team’s new bench boss.

With that done, Sharks GM Doug Wilson moved on to the team’s biggest question mark going into the summer: the goaltending. Niemi was slated to become an unrestricted free agent and Wilson made his intentions clear by trading the netminder’s negotiating rights to Dallas. He later acquired Martin Jones, who enjoyed two strong season as the Kings’ backup goalie, to battle with Stalock for the top job.

San Jose also signed defenseman 34-year-old Paul Martin to a four-year, $19.4 million contract and forward Joel Ward to a three-year deal worth just under $10 million.

Once again the core of the Sharks hasn’t fundamentally changed, but at the same time the 2015-16 version of the team will certainly feature noteworthy differences from its predecessor.

Under Pressure: John Carlson

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We wrote yesterday about how most teams that win the Stanley Cup have an elite center, like Jonathan Toews.

Well, most teams that win the Cup also have an elite defenseman, like Duncan Keith, the 2015 Conn Smythe Trophy winner.

Can John Carlson be that guy for the Washington Capitals?

The 25-year-old is coming off his best season as a professional. In 82 games, he had 12 goals and 43 assists, his 55 points ranking fifth among NHL defensemen, behind only Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, P.K. Subban and Dennis Wideman.

And with the departure of Mike Green, the Caps will need Carlson more than ever to provide offense from the back end, while also continuing to improve in all the other areas of his game.

“I think with Carly, there’s been areas of his game that sort of would lag, and I think he’s done a really good job of focusing on those areas, so he can have that consistency,” coach Barry Trotz said in February, per the Washington Post. “He’s maturing as a player. He’s still a very young player who’s now entering the front end of the prime of his career. There’s lot of good things to see from him.”

Related: ‘It took him a few years, but Victor Hedman’s arrived’

B’s sign former Sharks d-man Irwin: one year, $800,000

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The Boston Bruins have added some depth on defense, in the form of Matt Irwin.

Irwin, 27, signed a one-year, $800,000 deal with the Bruins on Friday, the club announced. He arrives in Boston having played 53 games for the Sharks last year, racking up an impressive eight goals — trailing only Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic among San Jose d-men — and 19 points, while averaging 17:01 TOI per night.

An undrafted free agent out of UMass Amherst, Irwin has spent his entire professional career with the Sharks organization. He had two very solid years to start his tenure — during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, he had 12 points in 38 games as a rookie; in ’13-14, he scored a career-high 20 points.

Last year, though, seemed to be something of a setback. Injuries and healthy scratches kept him from playing as big a role on the Sharks’ defense, and GM Doug Wilson allowed Irwin to walk in free agency.

PHT Morning Skate: Burns would have a tiger, but wife vetoed

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns loves animals and has pet reptiles at home, in part because with his travel schedule a cat or dog isn’t as feasible. Speaking of cats though: “I’d have a tiger if my wife would let me, but she kiboshed that.” (Sportsnet)

It might seem weird for Sam Bennett to be participating in the Calgary Flames’ development camp after his strong showing in the 2015 playoffs, but he sees the benefit in it. (Calgary Sun)

Jack Eichel is naturally dominating the headlines at the Sabres’ development camp, but Buffalo has another big prospect there in fellow second overall pick Sam Reinhart. (Buffalo News)

James Duthie will have a role in Goon: Last of The Enforcers:

Retired defenseman Jay Leach is joining the AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins as an assistant coach. (Penguins.nhl.com)

After Philadelphia selected three goaltenders in the 2015 draft, Anthony Stolarz realizes he has to elevate his game. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Heading West: Paul Martin signs four-year, $19.4M deal in San Jose

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The San Jose Sharks have scored one of the biggest UFA defenseman prizes, inking former Pittsburgh blueliner Paul Martin to a four-year deal.

UPDATE: Per CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz, it’s a $4.85 million average annual cap hit — $19.4 million total. It makes Martin the team’s second highest-paid defenseman, behind Brent Burns.

Martin, 34, has spent the last five seasons in Pittsburgh and further established his reputation as a solid, all-around veteran defenseman. After an injury-filled ’13-14 campaign he rebounded nicely last year, scoring 20 points in 74 games while averaging 22:47 per night — and in the playoffs, with the Penguins’ defense decimated by various ailments, Martin averaged a whopping 24:36.

In San Jose, he’ll add to a defense that already included Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun and Brenden Dillon, who recently inked a five-year pact with an average annual cap hit of $3.27 million. On paper, it’s a good defensive unit with nice depth that should help with new head coach Peter DeBoer’s prediction of a “big bounce-back” season in San Jose.