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Joe Thornton return among Sharks’ possibilities for Game 4

When asked about the San Jose Sharks’ lineup for Game 4 against the Vegas Golden Knights, Peter DeBoer repeatedly deflected questions, hammering the phrase “game-time decisions” in each instance.

That hasn’t stopped people from speculating about who might be in or out of the mix.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

The most interesting name popping up is Joe Thornton. The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz notes that Thornton said that he’s probably not ready for Game 4, yet Kurz believes there’s some possibility for a pleasant surprise once those game-time decisions are in.

Kurz isn’t the only reporter who’s showing some optimism about a possible return for “Jumbo Joe” tonight. The Mercury News’ Paul Gackle goes as far as to label Thornton as “likely to play.”

Thornton’s already gone through some of the vague-if-positive steps of recovery, even warming up with the Sharks recently. If nothing else, it seems like the 38-year-old has a shot at playing sometime during the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Really, it would be a shame if he did not. That’s especially true if the pending UFA doesn’t re-sign with the Sharks, as that would make for an unceremonious end to his decade-plus with the team.

Thornton underwent surgery in late January, and even at his previous “bringing the game to his own speed,” it was reasonable to wonder how he’d fare against the lightning-fast, aggressive Golden Knights. That would be an even more valid question if Thornton plays at less than 100 percent.

Even a hobbled Thornton could make a big difference, whether he skates with Evander Kane and Joe Pavelski on a top-heavy first line or gets eased into the mix as a third-line center.

The Sharks’ official Twitter feed acknowledged the uncertainty at hand while pointing to another tweak to monitor: it looks like Joakim Ryan will replace veteran defenseman Paul Martin tonight. Do note that DeBoer wouldn’t give a concrete answer on that subject, either, though:

If that swap stands, Ryan will be making his first-career appearance in an NHL postseason game. The 24-year-old played in 62 games for the Sharks during his rookie season, averaging 16:45 TOI and scoring 12 points. His possession stats are fairly promising, all things considered.

It’s actually remarkable that Paul Martin has been able to stay in the lineup for this long considering how often he was a healthy scratch (or demoted to the AHL) during the regular season. Let’s just say that this is a mere sample of the less-than-positive reviews of his recent work:

After the Golden Knights throttled the Sharks 7-0 in Game 1, the two teams have traded overtime victories. Game 4 will go a long way in determining if this could be a long, fascinating series or if Vegas might continue to dominate in ways that still seem shocking.

You’d have to think that even a less-than-optimal Thornton would give the Sharks a serious boost, but we’ll have to see how the game-time decisions play out.

Game 4 takes place on NBCSN tonight with puck drop slated for 10 p.m. ET. This is the livestream link.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Vegas continues to roll, Hischier’s hand injury, Jets coming of age

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Up top, check out the onslaught put on by the Vegas Golden Knights in their blowout win against the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round matchup.

• Five reasons the Vegas Golden Knights continue to thrive as NHL’s most-successful expansion team (USA Today)

• What If The Golden Knights Just Never Lose? (Deadspin)

• NHL Referees and Linesmen for Round 2 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Scouting the Refs)

• There’s no shortage of opinions on whether NHL draft lottery is working (Ottawa Sun)

• A bevy of blueliners may await Canucks in NHL draft lottery (The Province)

• An analytical preview of the second round of the NHL playoffs (TSN.ca)

• Subban trying ‘to have a little bit of fun’ with Predators in playoffs (NHL.com)

• Hischier played through hand injury during rookie season with Devils (NHL.com)

• Few players have had more Stanley Cup near-misses than Sharks veteran Paul Martin (ESPN)

• Where did it all go wrong? A postmortem for Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (Yardbarker)

• Five storylines to look for in the second round of the NHL playoffs (The Canadian Press)

• Predators vs Jets: Did Winnipeg take early lead on social media? (Tennessean)

• The Winnipeg Jets Are An Insufferable (But Talented) Hockey Team (On the Forecheck)

• Growing up: Jets come of age (Winnipeg Sun)

• Predators’ silent second line needs to step up to beat Winnipeg Jets (Tennessean)

• Much-maligned Adam McQuaid may have saved the Bruins’ season (Stanley Cup of Chowder)

• The Lightning is fun, but does its playoff run translate into dollars for Tampa? (Tampa Bay Times)

• A party 31 years in the making, we look back on life in 1987 (Winnipeg Sun)

• Leksand’s Leon Reuterström publicly comes out as transgender, retires from women’s hockey (The Ice Garden)

• Bruce Cassidy proves his Jack Adams worth in Game 7 (Bruins Daily)

• Humboldt survivor has breakthrough as support continues to pour in (Sportsnet)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Shea Weber to miss six months after foot surgery

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We already knew Shea Weber was done for the season and that he was scheduled to have surgery to repair a tendon injury in his left foot.

What we didn’t know was how long he’d be sidelined after the final puck was dropped this year.

Now we know.

The Montreal Canadiens announced that Weber had the surgery to repair injured tendons in his left foot in Green Bay on Tuesday. The defenseman expected to miss six months as he recovers from the procedure, which would see him return to some sort of activity near the middle of September, or right around the time training camp begins — and that’s if all goes to plan.

Weber has been out since Dec. 16 with the foot injury. He resumed light skating at the beginning of February but the Canadiens shut him down for the rest of the season on Feb. 22. He has six goals and 16 points this season.

˝Following the diagnosis of Shea Weber’s injury, it was our belief that after a comprehensive rehabilitation protocol under the guidance of our medical team, Shea would be able to return to play this season,” the Canadiens’ orthopedic surgeon Dr. Paul Martineau said at the time.

“Unfortunately, after extensive efforts to heal Shea’s injury, progress has not been made as expected. After further exams, and a consultation on Wednesday in Green Bay, Wisconsin with specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, and with Shea’s approval, it has been determined that he should undergo surgery and will be out for the remainder of the season. Our medical group will work with Shea to ensure he is pursuing the best course of treatment moving forward, and we expect him to make a full recovery and be ready for the start of training camp next season. The length of his recovery will be determined following surgery, which will be performed by Dr. Anderson,”

The Canadiens said Tuesday that Weber will meet with the media at a later date.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Sharks reportedly making ‘serious push’ for Erik Karlsson

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Try to picture this: A blue line with Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson on it. Together. That would be a whole lot of fun, wouldn’t it?

That may have seemed farfetched a few months ago, but not anymore. According to TSN 1200’s AJ Jakubec, the San Jose Sharks are making a push to acquire Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators. TSN.ca’s Travis Yost backup up Jakubec’s report.

Before Sharks fans get too excited, the report also mentions that the “Bobby Ryan factor” is complicating things, which isn’t unexpected at all. Ryan has four years left on his contract that comes with a cap hit of $7.25 million, and the Sens want to include him in any deal involving Karlsson.

Any team adding Karlsson and Ryan would be taking on $13.75 million. That’s why any trade involving the Swedish defenseman would likely have to include a third party willing to take Ryan or at least a portion of his contract.

As for San Jose, they have quite a bit of money coming off the books this summer (Joe Thornton‘s $8 million, Joel Ward‘s $3.275 million and Jannik Hansen‘s $2 million), but they already have $24.17 million committed to their top five blue liners in 2018-19 with Burns, Paul Martin, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun and Brendan Dillon. Adding Karlsson would take them over $30 million, but that’ll be the least of their worries if they can make this trade happen.

The Sharks still have their first-round pick to use as a trade chip, but they have no picks in the second or third rounds.

MORE: Pro Hockey Talk 2018 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

PHT Morning Skate: Kane talks future; NHL responds to Kid Rock backlash

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Likely-to-be-traded Evander Kane on his future with the Buffalo Sabres “One thing I’ve always said is that I’ve really really enjoyed my time here and will continue to do so for as long as I’m here.” [Buffalo News]

• The NHL explains the decision behind having Kid Rock perform during next weekend’s All-Star Game, which has garnered a bit of backlash. [ESPN]

Jack Johnson and John Tortorella talk about the Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman’s decision to request a trade. [Dispatch]

• Before he became one of the league’s top scorers, Anders Lee was chucking the pigskin as a top high school quarterback in Minnesota. [Sports Illustrated]

• How has Willie O’Ree not been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame? [Stanley Cup of Chowdah]

• With Paul Martin in the AHL, Brent Burns has a lot of lifting to do to improve his game. [NBC California]

• It’s taken some time, but Kyle Okposo of the Buffalo Sabres is finally feeling comfortable following a concussion suffered last season. [Buffalo Hockey Beat]

• It’s time that Phil Kessel gets more respect around the league. [FanRag Sports]

Sebastian Aho is out of the lineup indefinitely. How can the Carolina Hurricanes replace him? [Canes Country]

• The Olympic rosters for South Korea’s men’s and women’s teams have a touch of North America on them. [Olympic Talk]

• A look at the good and bad of the NHL partnering with women’s hockey teams. [The Ice Garden]

• Why Adam Lowry is important to the Winnipeg Jets. [Arctic Ice Hockey]

• Solid breakdown of Eric Nystrom’s lawsuit against the Nashville Predators. [On the Forecheck]

• Trying to explain why some players missed out on the 2018 NHL All-Star Game. [Featurd]

• Finally, here’s Eddie Olczyk telling the story of the time the Toronto Maple Leafs traded him to the Winnipeg Jets while he was in the delivery room with his wife:

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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.