Sharks sign ‘15 first rounder Timo Meier

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The San Jose Sharks have signed Timo Meier to a standard, entry-level contract, the club announced on Wednesday.

Meier was the ninth overall pick at last month’s NHL Draft.

“Timo is a dynamic forward who has outstanding finishing skills,” said Sharks’ GM Doug Wilson. “His big, pro frame allows him to be successful in all three zones, and his high hockey IQ has already become evident at our Prospects Development Camp. We look forward to watching his continued development.”

The 6-foot-1, 209-pound forward has spent the past two seasons with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Herisau, Switzerland native scored 44 goals and 90 points in 61 regular season games with Halifax during the 2014-15 season.

He was awarded the 2015 Michael Bossy Trophy given to the QMJHL player judged to be the best professional prospect.

Meier represented Switzerland at the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championship scoring two goals and four assists in six games.

“Timo is an accomplished goal scorer who had an excellent season in Halifax last year,” Sharks’ Director of Scouting Tim Burke said. “A strong body, good skater, and versatile player, we were very excited to take him with the 9th overall pick.”

Photo courtesy of the San Jose Sharks

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)

Report: Contract negotiations between Blackhawks, Kruger ‘progressing OK’

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Marcus Kruger was tendered a qualifying offer from the Chicago Blackhawks, but as of Saturday, there was no new deal in place for the 25-year-old center.

From ESPN Chicago:

The Chicago Blackhawks and restricted free agent forward Marcus Kruger are continuing to negotiate a new contract, a source said on Saturday.

“Things are progressing OK,” the source said. “Nothing really to report, but nothing to worry about either.”

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman described negotiations with Kruger and his agent as going “very well” on Tuesday and thought they were getting closer to a deal.

Kruger’s offensive totals were down in 2014-15. He had only seven goals and 17 points in 81 regular season games, but was relied heavily upon on the penalty kill. The previous season, Kruger recorded a career high 28 points in 81 games.

With the trade of Ben Smith to San Jose this season, Kruger emerged as the leader among Chicago forwards in ice time on the penalty kill per game.

Blackhawks re-sign Desjardins — two years, $1.6 million

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The Chicago Blackhawks have re-signed forward Andrew Desjardins. And they’ve kept him for a bargain.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Desjardins’ contract is for two years with a cap hit of $800,000. That’s only slightly more than the $750,000 cap hit he carried this season.

“Took far less to stay,” his agent, Todd Reynolds, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Loves it there.”

Desjardins was traded to the ‘Hawks in March, coming from San Jose for Ben Smith. The 28-year-old finished with one goal and three assists during Chicago’s Stanley Cup run.

GM Stan Bowman said after the final: “We would love to bring him back. It was a nice surprise the way Desjardins played a huge role for us. I think he played a bigger role than we probably expected.”

Related: ‘Hawks would like to re-sign Oduya, but still working through ‘financial hurdles’

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.