NBC Sports California

Sharks take playful jabs at city of Winnipeg, draw response (Update)

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The San Jose Sharks are probably very happy to have their only visit to Winnipeg this season over and done with. While they may have lost 4-1 to the Jets on Sunday night, some players were probably feeling like it was a bit of a win not to have to worry about staying there again until 2018-19* (*barring a playoff meeting, of course).

Prior to Sunday’s game, NBC Sports California Tweeted a video featuring Tomas Hertl, Justin Braun and Tim Heed expressing their thoughts on the city of Winnipeg — thoughts that won’t be featured on any tourism brochures.

If they wanted to add one final zinger they could have asked Ilya Bryzgalov for his updated thoughts on Winnipeg’s park situation or caught up with Altitude TV’s Kyle Keefe about the weather.

CBC News went and asked Dayna Spiring, president and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg, her thoughts on what the Sharks players said and she threw some shade their way.

Via CBC:

“Given that the Jets beat the Sharks 4-1, I can understand that they don’t like Winnipeg. It’s never fun to lose,” she said, offering to help them see the city in a better light.

“Once the NHL playoffs get into full swing and the Sharks have some more time on their hands I’d be happy to tour them around and show them all that Winnipeg has to offer — festivals, food trucks, sunshine, world-class attractions and one of the best culinary scenes in the country.

“If they want to take me up on my offer, we could even invite them to a Jets playoff game.”

As Jets fans like to do to certain opposing players, Bryzgalov was serenaded by them when he played there a few years after his comments. You can be certain they won’t forget next time those three players are in town.

UPDATE: Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister weighs in:

UPDATE #2: As you can see, NBC California has since deleted the controversial Tweet. Tueday has been an eventful day of responses. First, Jets head coach Paul Maurice spoke out, and now Sharks GM Doug Wilson said this to the Mercury News:

“It’s disappointing that our broadcast partner would put our players in that position. First of all, by even asking that question, then putting it on our broadcast. That was a question that was one of 30 that were asked earlier in the year. To me, it was an inappropriate question that should not have been asked. Whether it was an attempt at humor, it was not appropriate.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Looking to make the leap: Mirco Mueller

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Like most things in San Jose last year, Mirco Mueller’s progression didn’t go exactly to plan.

Mueller, the 20-year-old blueliner San Jose took 18th overall in 2013, started out the year in the NHL as part of GM Doug Wilson’s “tomorrow team” movement, only to see his ice time dwindle by early December.

From there, he was loaned to Team Switzerland for the World Juniors and, upon returning, was shuffled back and forth between San Jose and the club’s AHL affiliate in Worcester, before a thumb injury in late March ended his year.

All told, Mueller appeared in just 39 games for the Sharks, three for Worcester and six for Switzerland — not a ton of hockey for a youngster that needs all the reps he can get.

Which begs the question — where will he get them this year?

On paper, Mueller appears to be part of the club’s six-man defensive unit, along with Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun, Brenden Dillon and newly acquired Paul Martin. But the Swiss rearguard will have some pretty heady competition for that spot, particularly in the form of Matt Tennyson, who appeared in a career-high 27 games last year, and Dylan DeMelo,  a 22-year-old prospect who, according to AHL bench boss Roy Sommer, is ready to make the leap himself.

Speaking of the American League, it could end up being the place where Mueller starts this season.

There were worries San Jose rushed him to the NHL last year and it’s important to remember that, of all the d-men taken in the first round in ’13, only Seth Jones and Rasmus Ristolainen have emerged as regulars; some have argued that Nikita Zadorov, taken two spots ahead of Mueller, was also rushed to the NHL (and has since been traded to Colorado).

What’s more, the likes of Philly’s Samuel Morin (No. 11), Winnipeg’s Josh Morrissey (No. 13) and the Islanders’ Ryan Pulock (No. 15) have yet to even make their big-league debuts.

Mueller knows that, based on his age and number of players looking to stick with the Sharks, this fall’s training camp will go a long way in deciding his fate.

And he knows the challenge will be difficult.

 “It’s always competitive,” he said, per the San Jose Mercury News. “A lot of jobs are on the line.”

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.

Sharks agree to five-year deal with Brenden Dillon

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Agent Jarrett Bousquet has revealed that the San Jose Sharks have inked a five-year deal with his client, Brenden Dillon.

The financial terms of the deal weren’t immediately known, but he’s coming off of a one-year, $1.25 million deal.

Update: Dillon’s contract is worth roughly $15.9 million per CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz.

The 24-year-old defenseman had 10 points and 77 penalty minutes in 80 games with the Stars and Sharks in 2014-15. He also averaged 19:34 minutes per contest. He started the season with Dallas but was moved in November in exchange for Jason Demers and a 2016 third-round pick.

Although he was never drafted, Dillon signed an entry-level contract with Dallas in 2011 and became a regular with the team during the lockout shortened 2013 campaign, so he’s already a veteran of 209 contests.

Dillon is projected to join Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun, and Mirco Mueller on the blueline next season, leaving the door open for the Sharks to acquire another defenseman via the trade or free agent market to round out their top-six.

Related: Report: San Jose interested in acquiring Bieksa

Roundup: Grabner, Braun activated from IR; Volchenkov put on

Some news and notes as we get closer to this evening’s puck drops…

Isles activate Michael Grabner

Grabner will draw in tonight — his first action since Feb. 7 — and, in a corresponding move, New York has placed Casey Cizikas on IR. Grabner will skate with Frans Nielsen and Ryan Strome on the club’s second line; on defense, the Isles will insert Calvin de Haan at the expense of Lubomir Visnovsky, who sits.

Sharks activate Justin Braun

Braun will play for the first time since Jan. 19 when the Sharks take on the Preds in Nashville tonight. Braun, who’s missed the last 11 games with a left hand injury, will skate on a pairing with fellow blueliner Brenden Dillon, which is where he was skating before he came out of the lineup.

Nashville puts Anton Volchenkov on IR

The veteran Russian rearguard went on injured reserve today after speculation suggested he could be ready to rejoin the Preds lineup. Volchenkov, who last played in a win over Winnipeg a week ago, has appeared in 42 games for Nashville this year but could be hard pressed to get minutes in the future, especially with Cody Franson now on board and Ryan Ellis a week or two away from returning from injury.