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.

Sharks’ Couture: ‘I think we have the core to win’

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It’s been a busy summer for the San Jose Sharks, as they look to get back to the playoffs after failing to qualify this past spring.

The Sharks and general manager Doug Wilson acquired goalie Martin Jones and then signed him to a three-year contract extension. They also signed veteran forward Joel Ward and defenseman Paul Martin.

However, with the new additions, it’s the core group of players, including Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, that forward Logan Couture seems to believe in as San Jose looks to get back to the post-season, despite what has been an overall lack of success that time of year.

“I talked to Doug a couple times throughout the summer, and we want to win,” Couture told The Hockey News.

“San Jose does. That’s our goal. We realize our best players, Jumbo and Patty, are getting a little bit older. I think we have the core to win, and Doug went out and got some very good players. Paul, Martin Jones, Joel, they’re just going to help us.”

 

Hudler edges out Datsyuk to win Lady Byng Trophy

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Jiri Hudler had a career season with 31 goals and 76 points in 78 contests. Along the way he only accumulated 14 penalty minutes and that helped him secure this year’s Lady Byng Trophy.

Among the top-20 scorers, he had the fewest PIM. Pavel Datsyuk, who has won this award four times, was a close second though with 648 votes to Hudler’s 700. There was a big drop off after that as Anze Kopitar just got 379 points. Hudler’s teammate, Sean Monahan, was the only player outside of the top three with at least 10 first-place votes (13).

Here are the voting results for the award, cutting off at the top 10:

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
1. Jiri Hudler, CGY 700 (52-13-12-8-5)
2. Pavel Datsyuk, DET 648 (29-28-24-10-12)
3. Anze Kopitar, LAK 379 (11-18-20-13-4)
4. Daniel Sedin, VAN 267 (6-10-15-18-8)
5. Sean Monahan, CGY 232 (13-5-8-7-6)
6. Jason Pominville, MIN 205 (8-10-7-5-5)
7. Matt Moulson, BUF 150 (4-8-6-6-6)
8. Logan Couture, SJS 148 (3-6-2-16-18)
9. Ryan O’Reilly, COL 139 (2-8-7-6-10)
10. Patrick Kane, CHI 130 (3-4-8-8-8)

Here’s a list of the Lady Byng Trophy winners and second-place finishers since 1990:

Year Winner Runner-up

2015 Jiri Hudler, Cgy. Pavel Datsyuk, Det.
2014 Ryan O’Reilly, Col. Martin St. Louis, NYR
2013 Martin St. Louis, T.B. Patrick Kane, Chi.
2012 Brian Campbell, Fla. Jordan Eberle, Edm.
2011 Martin St. Louis, T.B. Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
2010 Martin St. Louis, T.B. Brad Richards, Dal.
2009 Pavel Datsyuk, Det. Martin St. Louis, T.B.
2008 Pavel Datsyuk, Det. Martin St. Louis, T.B.
2007 Pavel Datsyuk, Det. Martin St. Louis, T.B.
2006 Pavel Datsyuk, Det. Brad Richards, T.B.
2004 Brad Richards, T.B. Daniel Alfredsson, Ott.
2003 Alex. Mogilny, Tor. Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
2002 Ron Francis, Car. Joe Sakic, Col.
2001 Joe Sakic, Col. Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
2000 Pavol Demitra, St.L Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1999 Wayne Gretzky, NYR Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1998 Ron Francis, Pit. Teemu Selanne, Ana.
1997 Paul Kariya, Ana. Teemu Selanne, Ana.
1996 Paul Kariya, Ana. Adam Oates, Bos.
1995 Ron Francis, Pit. Adam Oates, Bos.
1994 Wayne Gretzky, L.A. Adam Oates, Bos.
1993 Pierre Turgeon, NYI Adam Oates, Bos.
1992 Wayne Gretzky, L.A. Joe Sakic, Que.
1991 Wayne Gretzky, L.A. Brett Hull, St.L
1990 Brett Hull, St.L Wayne Gretzky, L.A.

Despite ‘win right now’ mentality, Sharks unlikely to shop No. 9 pick at draft

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Even though they hired a veteran head coach in Peter DeBoer — who, upon taking the job, said his expectation is to “win right now” — the San Jose Sharks don’t sound as though they’ll be entertaining offers for the ninth overall pick at this year’s NHL Entry Draft.

“The strength of this draft year, it impacted some of our decisions this season,” GM Doug Wilson said, per NHL.com. “We were not going to move our first-round pick regardless.

“The chance to add a high-end quality player [in the draft] was not something we were going to compromise on.”

While this approach fits with the “tomorrow team” label Wilson put on his team prior to last season, there was some thought the Sharks could have altered their philosophy, largely based on what DeBoer said upon being introduced in late May.

“I think if you enter the San Jose Sharks organization, like I am as the head coach, the expectation is to win right now,” he said. “Regardless of the ages or the birth certificates of the players, there’s a tradition here of winning and of challenging to go deep into the playoffs. That’s my expectation. I think that’s [GM Doug Wilson’s] expectation, and I don’t think anyone’s looking for anything less than that here.”

DeBoer then predicted a “big bounce-back” for the Sharks after they missed the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. That belief is based partly on a veteran core group of players — Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Brent Burns, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic — who will (presumably) return next season, and not so they can be part of a rebuild.

But even with that core group in place, Wilson was adamant he wants to stockpile future talent at what’s expected to be one of the deepest drafts in recent memory.

“We see it as a very good draft,” Wilson said. “It was forecast as a good draft and it’s playing out that way.”

DeBoer predicts ‘big bounce-back’ in San Jose

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So much for the San Jose Sharks becoming a “tomorrow team.”

Based on what Pete DeBoer said today at his introductory press conference, a “tomorrow team” isn’t what he signed on to coach.

“I think if you enter the San Jose Sharks organization, like I am as the head coach, the expectation is to win right now,” he said. “Regardless of the ages or the birth certificates of the players, there’s a tradition here of winning and of challenging to go deep into the playoffs. That’s my expectation. I think that’s [GM Doug Wilson’s] expectation, and I don’t think anyone’s looking for anything less than that here.”

Despite the Sharks having just missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003, DeBoer is predicting a “big bounce-back” for San Jose, which still boasts Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Brent Burns, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic on its roster.

DeBoer was asked what needs to change to avoid a repeat of 2014-15.

“I’ve got some ideas in my head, but I can’t box it up for you in one package,” he said. “I can tell you I believe it’s fixable, and the biggest thing that’s going to be fixed – and the most comforting thing to me – is the character of this group.

“You’ve got a lot of proud people here that aren’t too happy about where they were sitting at the end of last season. My history with that is, if you’ve got character and you’ve been through that, you’re ready to push back. And I think we’re going to see that.”