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Couture extension continues Sharks’ summer spree

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The San Jose Sharks aren’t messing around this offseason.

The deal won’t become official until Sunday, but Logan Couture is set to sign an eight-year extension with the Sharks worth $64 million.

The signing could kick off a wild next 24 hours for the Sharks, who are reportedly one of the top teams in the running for unrestricted free agent John Tavares.

The team already locked up forward Evander Kane to a seven-year, $49 million contract earlier this spring, further solidifying a forward contingent that was already in the top half of NHL goal-scoring.

Couture was a big part of that, scoring a career-high 34 times to go along with 61 points in 78 games. He had four goals and eight assists in 12 playoff contests with the Sharks.

The move doesn’t change the cap (currently at $60 million and change) for the Sharks this year as Couture’s extension doesn’t kick in for another year.

The Sharks have two pending restricted free agents still to sign in Tomas Hertl (who is going to get paid) and Chris Tierney and have still yet to sign Joe Thornton, who is a UFA and 39 years old but still coveted by the team.

Couture’s signing should make what Sharks choose to do with their captain Joe Pavelski — who is entering the final year on his five-year, $30 million contract — interesting going forward.

But over the next few hours, what Doug Wilson can do regarding Tavares might just cement him as the best GM in the league this summer.

Getting Tavares, without trying to understate this, would be massive for a team that’s solid up front — with Kane, Couture, Pavelski and Hertl — solid on the backend — with Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic — and with a quality goaltender in the crease in Martin Jones.

Wilson has done a solid job of laying out a good future for Tavares to walk into if he so chooses.

And now we wait to see if Tavares wants to build there.


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

Report: Sharks, McLellan could mutually part ways

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A day after being named Team Canada’s coach for the upcoming World Hockey Championship, Todd McLellan could be parting ways with the San Jose Sharks.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the Sharks and McLellan could agree to mutually part ways as early as today.

The Sharks have their locker cleanout day today followed by GM Doug Wilson’s media availability.

As David Pollak points out in his piece, McLellan has already hinted at a mutual parting.

“Our coaching staff will come under that review, but I have to do my own personal review too,” McLellan said after Saturday’s loss to the Kings. “I’m going to have my family together for the first time on Tuesday for a long time. My son will be back. We’ll get a chance to sit down and I’ll look at the impact that I think I’ve had and can have moving forward. We’ll go from there.”

Since guiding the Sharks to back-to-back Western Conference final appearances in 2009-10 and 2010-11, McLellan’s teams have failed to get out of the second round of the playoffs.

The Sharks mustered just one win in the two conference final appearances and have been bounced from the first round of the playoffs in three of McLellan’s seven seasons in the Bay Area.

This is season marks the first time the Sharks have missed the playoffs altogether under McLellan’s watch.

In total McLellan has a 311-163-66 regular season record with the Sharks.

Infection in repaired knee will delay start of Sharks’ Torres season

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The San Jose Sharks won’t be seeing Raffi Torres on the ice at the start of the new season.

The team announced Torres developed an infection in his surgically repaired right knee and had to have a procedure to remove the surgically implanted graft. Sharks GM Doug Wilson said there’s no timetable on his recovery.

“Raffi has started a rehabilitation phase, but will need to repeat the surgical procedure to repair the ACL damage suffered on Sept. 20, 2013,” Wilson said in the team’s press release. “We expect Raffi to return to the team during the 2014-15 season but no official timeline for his return is being set at this time.”

Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea.com reports Torres could miss as much as half of the season.

Torres originally suffered his injury during preseason last year. He tore the ACL in his right knee and missed most of the season. He played in five regular season games and all seven Sharks playoff games in the first round against Los Angeles. He averaged 10:22 of ice time per game making him primarily a fourth line player. After the injury he suffered, it made sense not to give him a ton of time.

Captain no more: Sharks strip Thornton of ‘C’

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The inevitable has happened in San Jose.

No, they haven’t made a franchise-altering trade – they’ve stripped Joe Thornton of his captaincy.

Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea.com shared the update from GM Doug Wilson and coach Todd McLellan. Instead of Thornton wearing the “C,” no player will enter training camp with a letter. The Sharks will have no captain and no alternates and have no obvious form of leadership. That means former captain, and now former alternate captain, Patrick Marleau also loses his “A.”

As for who the next captain will be, that’ll be determined later and perhaps not before the start of the season. From Kurz:

“A new captain and leadership group will be determined at some point, but not necessarily before the start of the season. McLellan did not rule out Thornton becoming the captain again, although would seem to be a long shot, as the Sharks plan to give their younger players a bigger stake in the club.”

Thornton losing his letter isn’t a big surprise as McLellan said in late June there was the possibility of that happening.

That said, considering how the team has changed its tune regarding he and Marleau saying they’ll be “part of the solution,” it’s just another thing to add to the list of baffling moves the organization has made in the wake of blowing a 3-0 series lead to the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the playoffs en route to a seven-game defeat.

If you think this is all head-scratching from the outside, imagine what it’s like being a Sharks fan.

Under pressure: Todd McLellan

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The coach of a California-based NHL club under pressure to get his team to the promise land, its a common theme in the Golden State unless your name is Darryl Sutter of course.

San Jose’s Todd McLellan, who by the way wasn’t fired during the off-season, despite having his name be linked to a number of coaching vacancies is back behind the Sharks bench for a seventh season.

This after his team collapsed in epic fashion blowing a 3-0 series lead to the LA Kings in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.

In May, Sharks’ majority owner Hasso Plattner voiced his disappointment in the team’s playoff failures in a statement. Plattner added he was confident that general manager Doug Wilson would make the appropriate changes moving forward.

Apparently keeping McLellan, who is believed to have two years remaining on his contract, around is part of that plan. His supporting staff, which includes associate coach Larry Robinson and assistants Jim Johnson and Jay Woodcroft, is still in tact as well.

McLellan has been at the helm for six seasons in the Bay Area after serving as an assistant coach on Mike Babcock’s staff in Detroit from 2005-08.

In San Jose, McLellan has guided the Sharks to six consecutive playoff appearances; however, they’ve reached the conference finals only twice.

Once getting to the final four, McLellan’s teams have won just one of eight games – that was a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Since then, McLellan hasn’t been able to get his team past the second round despite finishing in the top 3 of the Pacific Division each year.

Following his team’s most recent collapse, a 5-1 loss in Game 7 to the Kings, McLellan called it his lowest point.

“I’m responsible for this group,” he said while at the podium at the SAP Center. “Low point since I’ve been here … that’s an easy one to answer.”

Wilson is apparently willing to go down with the sinking ship.

He re-signed Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau to similar three-year contracts in January and tacked on no-movement clauses despite heading into a rebuild. Both have two years remaining on their deals after 2014-15  all but guaranteeing they’ll be in San Jose longer than McLellan and Wilson.

Wilson’s motto this off-season appears to be addition by subtraction.

He dealt defenseman Brad Stuart for a pair of draft picks and decided not to re-sign veteran Dan Boyle. Additionally, Wilson, who has been with the club since 2003, bought out forward Martin Havlat.

As it stands, it appears Wilson is banking on players such as sophomore Tomas Hertl and third-year NHLer Tommy Wingles, who had 16 goals in 77 games last season, to pick up the slack up front and help veterans Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture.

On the back end San Jose is hoping defenseman Mirco Mueller can make the leap and help fill out the top six.

According to CapGeek, San Jose has a little over $6 million to play with.

But without much significant help left on the free agent market, Sharks’ fans have to hope Wilson can make additions by trade or else its quite a similar looking team, which will once again try to get San Jose to that elusive Stanley Cup final.

Related: Trying to make sense of the ‘rebuild’ in San Jose