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Timo Meier’s Sharks future? Extra commerce situations? Prospects replace? Mailbag

The Sharks started what may find yourself as probably the most crucial stretch of the 2022-23 season Monday evening with one of many two “comfy” victories they’ve had this season.

San Jose is now one recreation into an 11-contest stretch that features six conferences with groups within the backside eight of the NHL standings. There are not any video games on this run towards the golf equipment that look elite up to now. It’s an opportunity for the Sharks to play their method again into the fringes of postseason competition. Conversely, in the event that they muddle their method via the following 10 video games with the same, .500-ish file, that could be the clearest indication the entrance workplace can see that making a playoff push simply isn’t prone to occur.

Even the comfy win Monday evening got here after a very sloppy first interval towards an undermanned Senators staff. The highest gamers dominated Ottawa within the second interval and coach David Quinn was most happy with how effectively his membership managed the third interval with a lead … one thing that has been one of many downside spots this season.

The Sharks are in Seattle on Wednesday evening, and the Kraken are at the moment one of the best staff (by factors share) San Jose faces between now and a mid-December journey to Los Angeles.

We tackled one of many greatest questions of the early Sharks season — what does Erik Karlsson’s scorching-hot begin imply for his future with the membership — in Half 1 of this version of the Sharks mega-mailbag. Now it’s time for Half 2, which features a bunch of subjects.

Let’s dig in.

Be aware: Submitted questions could also be edited for readability and magnificence.

I do know the Sharks might get a number of picks for Timo Meier however picks aren’t all the time assured to get you high quality guys. I really consider Timo could be THE high quality man for years to come back and the chemistry he shares with Tomas Hertl is plain. I simply love his physicality, relentlessness and shot. Any probability the Sharks are in a position to preserve Timo? — Carlos M. 

There are a number of questions in regards to the general path of the franchise that aren’t going to be a part of this mailbag however shall be referenced in a narrative/column that’s seemingly going to publish nearer to the top of this week or at the beginning of subsequent week. Meier’s future goes to be an enormous clue about how shut the brand new regime believes the Sharks are to being staff.

I actually assume there’s a probability the Sharks preserve him. The argument about how lengthy it’s going to take to get again to being a playoff staff/title contender is slightly completely different with Meier than it was with Hertl final yr presently. Meier is three years youthful, and will simply nonetheless be an elite participant when San Jose is a good-to-great staff once more, even when that takes 4-5 years.

It’s a difficult scenario although. Buying and selling Meier will seemingly, however not positively, make the method take longer. Retaining Meier would additionally seemingly, however not positively, make it tougher for the membership to select excessive within the draft if it’s not a playoff contender this yr or subsequent.

Ideally, the Sharks would preserve Meier, and signal him to a long-term cope with a cap hit under the $10 million qualifying provide they need to lengthen to him this summer season to retain his rights for yet one more season earlier than he can change into an unrestricted free agent. And GM Mike Grier would have the ability to transfer among the different lengthy, costly contracts to retool the roster and discover extra cap flexibility.

However, that is removed from a perfect world. Meier is probably the most beneficial commerce asset within the group, exterior of possibly William Eklund and the membership’s 2023 and 2024 first-round picks (due to the potential for them to be excessive alternatives). He’s additionally the one participant on the roster that counts greater than $5 million towards the cap with none commerce safety in his contract.

So, do Grier and his employees consider they’ll flip the Sharks right into a contender within the subsequent 2-3 years? If that’s the case, protecting Meier could be important. The cash shouldn’t be an issue, until Meier needs greater than $10 million per season. The cap ceiling is anticipated to begin going up once more, and there shall be comparatively simple methods to make room for Meier if he and the Sharks need him to remain.

Do the Sharks consider this course of may take slightly longer? And the longer this season goes with out the membership within the playoff image, will they see a chance so as to add a younger influence participant on the high of the 2023 draft as the best step within the course of?

If that’s the case, then Meier will seemingly be traded. The Sharks don’t need to do it earlier than the approaching commerce deadline, however giving potential contenders two assured playoff runs with him would seemingly drive the worth up.

William Eklund (Robert Edwards / USA At the moment)

Who from the Barracuda has impressed you? Ideas on the highest prospects: William Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau and Ryan Merkley? — Jamie M. 

I’ve seen the Barracuda play in individual thrice thus far this season, plus the rookie event and coaching camp. That is going to learn far more harshly than supposed, however the trustworthy reply is nearer to nobody than a protracted listing of fellows.

That isn’t to say that a number of of the Sharks’ prospects aren’t having a strong begin to the season. The newest recreation, a 6-0 win at Tucson, could be the breakout efficiency for the youngsters that they wanted to kick on from right here. Eklund, Bordeleau and Tristen Robins are all producing at a charge that’s completely tremendous for first-year AHL gamers. Additionally they mixed for 4 objectives and eight factors in the latest recreation.

Watching them in individual, and once more it was solely three video games, I’d say that every of these three guys is doing a few cool issues per recreation, however there wasn’t sufficient constant influence over the course of a number of shifts to assume they’re positively able to step in and assist the Sharks proper now. The final recreation I noticed was the comfy win towards San Diego. Bordeleau had an awesome go to arrange a objective. Eklund made a candy transfer to create an opportunity that may have been highlight-reel materials. However actually watching them intently … there have been loads of shifts the place they had been simply type of on the market.

These two guys specifically are usually not with the Barracuda to work on their offensive creativity. Each of these guys might costume for the Sharks on Friday towards the Kings and appear like artistic NHL gamers in the best conditions. However are they prepared for all the things else, from profitable puck battles to managing the puck when it’s wanted to defensive obligations? It might be arduous to say so from these three video games.

That’s additionally completely tremendous, and the purpose of getting them within the AHL. The one method these guys had been going to have a quick keep throughout city was in the event that they dominated or if there have been severe harm points for the Sharks. Simply being strong or making a couple of good performs per recreation wasn’t going to earn them early promotions.

The opposite “children” — Robins, Daniil Gushchin, Brandon Coe and Ozzy Wiesblatt — had been all prone to spend most if not all of this yr within the AHL, if not into subsequent yr as effectively. Robins has been actually strong, and has some related stuff in his recreation to Bordeleau. The opposite three are off to various levels of sluggish begins, but it surely’s their first actual, full AHL season (the COVID-19 shortened yr wasn’t the identical contemplating the schedule and the watered-down league). It’s simply too early to get too nervous about any of them.

Merkley is a distinct story. There must be excessive expectations for him, given his age and expertise. He’s as much as seven assists in 14 video games, however he’s had at the least a few tough video games (as a result of I noticed them). Merkley’s greatest path to the NHL could be to get right into a bunch of bodily battles alongside the partitions and win sufficient of them to point out he gained’t be a legal responsibility. It’s doable that his offensive creativity and passing capacity gained’t be sufficient to hold him. His quickness and short-area skating is robust, however he’s not quick and struggles to cope with the tempo of some speedy forwards. The issue is within the NHL, like 80 p.c of the forwards are speedy, in comparison with the AHL degree.

Of the prospects who aren’t as younger, Strauss Mann spent a while within the ECHL, however he’s made probably the most of restricted probabilities with the Barracuda. Additionally, I wouldn’t say that Artemi Kniazev had nice video games once I’ve seen him, however he had some optimistic moments and flashed some NHL-level instruments.

Anybody from the group of recent minor league goalies standing out but? — Neil O.

Mann has performed rather well for the Barracuda, but it surely’s solely three video games. He additionally had a powerful summer season camp and performed effectively within the rookie event. He’s been an underdog his total profession due to his dimension, and that’s most likely not going to alter with the Sharks — particularly after Grier added one other greater goalie (Eetu Makiniemi) that he has to compete with proper now.

And Makiniemi is off to a powerful begin this season with a .926 save share in seven video games … however that’s nonetheless a tiny pattern. He solely performed 14 video games final yr due to an harm as effectively.

Under the AHL, Mason Beaupit began the yr on a nasty staff (Spokane) however received traded to top-of-the-line within the WHL (Winnipeg). He’s had two actually good begins in three video games for the Ice and will get some beneficial high-stakes expertise later within the yr for a Memorial Cup contender.

Benjamin Gaudreau’s numbers have slid from final yr, however two unhealthy begins out of 18 video games are a part of that. He’s nonetheless a contender to make Canada’s world juniors staff, however I’d think about he must play higher over the following few weeks if he needs to be within the lineup on the WJC. And Magnus Chrona is buzzing together with strong however unspectacular numbers for top-of-the-line groups within the NCAA.

The Sharks don’t have a Yaroslav Askarov/Jesper Wallstedt sort of prospect in internet, however they’ve amassed a group of intriguing gamers that shall be price monitoring over the following couple of seasons.

The Sharks want scoring and Logan Couture is a objective scorer — would it not be smart to maneuver him to the wing? Strum might play middle and deal with the protection so Logan could be free for offense. Sturm is massive and will deal with high facilities. Doesn’t it look like they preserve placing bottom-six wingers up there that possibly have recreation or two then flip one other? — John G. 

Is Sturm commerce materials or will he find yourself a part of a brand new “core” for the following few years? — Geno S. 

The Sharks have settled, for now, on Matt Nieto and Alexander Barabanov has Couture’s wingers. It’s been one of many longest stretches for the captain having the identical two linemates shortly, and it’s gone fairly effectively. Couture has been on a little bit of a heater with six objectives previously seven video games, a few of which occurred after John submitted his query.

I don’t assume the Sharks have any designs on transferring Couture to the wing to assist his offensive output. Proper now, 10 objectives and 17 factors in 21 video games is nice manufacturing from any staff’s No. 2 middle. However Couture is de facto the staff’s No. 3 ahead, offensively talking, and nonetheless its most essential defensively.

Barabanov is okay as a complementary ahead on a top-six line, however the Sharks might clearly use one other potent offensive participant and slotting him subsequent to Couture would make quite a lot of sense. That may very well be one of many prospects within the close to future, or it may very well be an offseason addition to discover if the Sharks do plan on protecting Meier and attempting to construct a playoff contender for subsequent season (they would want to clear some cap area, although).

Sturm has had a powerful offensive begin to the season and he’s deservedly been promoted from the fourth line to the third. However that’s most likely as excessive as he must go.

I can actually see the argument for entertaining commerce proposals for Sturm. If he continues to play effectively because the staff’s No. 3 middle, he’s on a really team-friendly contract. He’s a coach’s dream. The media actually respects his willingness to be trustworthy and insightful, however we may also be too fast to anoint a participant a “chief” as a result of he offers good interviews. That mentioned, there’s no motive to consider that his new teammates don’t respect his candor, work ethic and willingness to “play the best method.”

Put all of that collectively, and he may very well be a beneficial addition for various contenders. However … that additionally makes him fairly beneficial to the Sharks, and to a brand new GM/new coach who’ve each preached setting a selected sort of tradition. Sturm looks as if a near-perfect manifestation of that.

When a current report mentioned Grier would hear on anybody, save for possibly Hertl, that makes quite a lot of sense. And I’m positive if somebody made a “whoa, that a lot, eh?” provide for Sturm, Grier and his employees would have an actual dialog about it, and possibly even take the deal. However Sturm would even be fairly excessive on the listing of “yeah, we’ll hear, however we’re not that fascinated by buying and selling him, both” guys on the roster proper now.

I don’t assume that essentially makes him a “core” participant. Perhaps if we group them into inner-circle and outer-circle core gamers, he’d be firmly within the latter proper now.

Noah Gregor (Kyle Ross / USA At the moment)

Is a commerce on the horizon for Noah Gregor? Appears to have fallen out of favor with the coaches and doesn’t appear to suit Mike Grier’s “arduous to play towards” type. — George R.

Gregor falling out of favor and spending a lot time as a wholesome scratch might be probably the most stunning roster growth of the season thus far. Although I’d say James Reimer beginning 14 of the primary 20 video games regardless of each goalies being wholesome can be a contender.

It appeared like Gregor was a simple alternative as a breakout sort of participant, simply due to the variety of scoring probabilities he created final yr and the unhealthy luck/poor ending that may very well be correctable. I’m undecided the “arduous to play towards” type has actually been the problem for Gregor. He simply didn’t play very effectively in any respect within the early a part of the season. If he’s not creating lots offensively, then the opposite elements of his recreation are going to get extra scrutiny.

Perhaps getting again within the lineup Monday and scoring a objective will spark him. I wouldn’t say that was a “classic” Gregor recreation like one of the best of his performances from final yr, but it surely could be a step in the best path. A commerce appears fairly unlikely, as a result of this may be transferring him at a low level in his worth. If he might begin producing usually, and the coaches/entrance workplace nonetheless weren’t glad with the remainder of his recreation, then that could be time to attempt to flip him elsewhere.

That mentioned, he’s 24 and nonetheless below staff management past this season. It’s price ready to see if he can get it going once more. Even when he by no means turns into a medical finisher, a man with that pace could be beneficial in a depth position.

Is Joe Thornton nonetheless across the staff amenities typically? Any rumbling of an official position? — Scott S. 

Jumbo has been on the varied staff amenities on a fairly common foundation this season. Practices at Sharks Ice, video games at each SAP Middle and Tech CU Area, the tall man with the fuzzy beard isn’t powerful to identify. By no means say by no means applies right here, but it surely looks as if a fairly strong wager that Thornton’s enjoying days at the moment are behind him.

Whether or not or not he needs an official position with the group, seemingly in hockey operations, stays to be seen. There hasn’t been quite a lot of chatter about it not too long ago. It’s not like he wants the cash, and I’m positive the Sharks are keen to offer him so long as he needs to make up his thoughts on what’s subsequent for him.

Devils fan right here nonetheless following you since your transfer to the West Coast — I’m positive the climate and surroundings is nice, however given the fortunes of the present and former groups you cowl, any tinges of remorse? — Graham S. 

The brief reply is nope. It was enjoyable to get again to The Rock earlier within the season and see quite a lot of previous mates, however my resolution to go away New York Metropolis/masking the Devils was way more a private/life-style resolution than an expert one. I lived within the Washington, D.C. space and Manhattan for about 10 years every, however I’ve all the time been somebody who enjoys being in or close to the mountains, mountain climbing and that form of factor. And being out right here that form of factor is in every single place, whether or not it’s the native stuff or a fast flight to Hawaii, Montana or the Pacific Northwest.

I’m completely satisfied for the individuals who have been with the Devils for a very long time and are lastly seeing the sunshine on the finish of the tunnel. They’re a enjoyable staff to observe, and the barn is rocking once more prefer it hasn’t since these two playoff video games in 2018.

How was your journey abroad for the International Collection? What did you see? What did you eat? What did you want/not like? Any suggestions? — Donald C.

It was superb. There are nonetheless two extra Sharks tales coming from that journey, one this week and the opposite hopefully someday subsequent month.

I spent 5 days in Berlin and 4 in Prague. Each are nice cities. I wasn’t positive what to anticipate from Berlin, but it surely’s an enchanting place.

A part of the Berlin journey didn’t get plastered throughout social media for a motive … as soon as that story is revealed, there shall be extra photographs on Twitter/Instagram. I actually loved the Hertha Berlin match at Olympic Stadium. That was my first correct European soccer match, and all the things about it delivered. There’s a lot historical past within the metropolis as effectively, and so they haven’t shied away from attempting to come back to phrases with the worst elements of it. Fantastic public transportation metropolis as effectively — spent plenty of time on the S-Bahn and the U-Bahn and so they put each subway/tram on this nation to disgrace.

My favourite meals in Berlin … the doner kebap (not kebab!) at Mustafa’s Gemüs was fantastic. I went to Fleischerei Domke a few occasions as a result of Anthony Bourdain went there for “Elements Unknown.” Had the sous-chef, the black pudding and the currywurst. All the pieces there was nice. Considered one of my grandmothers was Very German, and she or he used to make potato pancakes on a regular basis. So I had them at two completely different locations as effectively.

Prague had been hyped as much as me by different hockey writers for a very long time, and it took about one hour within the metropolis to see why. It’s now most likely my second favourite metropolis in Europe behind Rome. I instructed Hertl that and he authorised (he’s additionally a giant Rome fan).

I didn’t have quite a lot of time to sightsee in Prague, but it surely’s a metropolis that’s price taking your time in. Previous City is the kind of place the place you are feeling like you must cease at each road nook to take a photograph. I stayed in Karlín, which is a superb neighborhood between Previous/New City and the sector the place the Sharks performed. All the pieces was walkable. All the pieces was stunning. I’ll positively return sooner or later on trip to see the opposite two-third of town that I didn’t get to.

My favourite meal in Prague was at Di Carlo, which is an Italian restaurant within the suburb that Hertl grew up in. Belief me — when he instructed me the place to go was a pizza/Italian place on the outskirts of town limits … I used to be skeptical. But it surely was an unbelievable meal — I had duck rissotto, a pizza (although I didn’t end it, both) and one moderately tall glass of Czech beer. And it was like $28 USD earlier than the tip.

Each Sharks fan who goes to Prague ought to go to Di Carlo. They’re fairly pleased with their hometown hero.

What’s your confidence degree in Arsenal profitable the league? — Fernando M. 

Very low. However … increased than zero p.c!

I’ve been a fan since 2010, and this seems like the primary time the place simply ending within the high 4 wouldn’t be a passable season. Totally count on Manchester Metropolis to win the league, however ending second could be an awesome accomplishment.

Greater than something, this staff has reignited my emotions in regards to the membership and the game at its highest degree after quite a lot of frustration not too long ago. Arsenal have had plenty of nice gamers over the previous 12 years, and the Gunners have performed, at occasions, a fun-to-watch model of soccer. However this staff does really feel completely different.

It’s the deepest staff they’ve had, and simply one of the best again line plus goalkeeper combo they’ve had because the prime Arsene Wenger glory days. There isn’t a world-class famous person (but), however there are such a lot of actually, actually good younger gamers. I don’t watch matches ready for the unhealthy issues to occur (although I’m positive there shall be a few of that later within the season). I’m not almost as nervous about each good younger participant getting scooped up by Barcelona or Bayern Munich.

Get again into the Champions League for subsequent yr, lock up extra of the younger core on long-term offers and plan on hanging round close to the highest of the league over the following few seasons. That works for me. After which hope that Metropolis slips up a type of years and possibly that’s not a Dying Star-level season for Liverpool and Chelsea as effectively.

(Photograph: Stan Szeto / USA At the moment)

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