Welcome to Day 3 of San Jose Sharks’ training camp!
It was the same groups as yesterday:
A couple interesting notes: Ryan Donato shared that he’s been playing on a line with Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane. Meanwhile, Logan Couture, Timo Meier, and Kevin Labanc have been skating together.
Between these two lines, this suggests that Bob Boughner is trying to stack his top-six, instead of spreading the wealth throughout the top-nine. Boughner also raved about Noah Gregor at center today, could he be the third-line center?
Boughner, on Gregor: "Gregor especially has really stood out to me as a guy who's bigger, stronger. He has that speed to his game."
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) January 3, 2021
Donato spoke today about what went wrong in Minnesota and how it feels good to have the San Jose coaching staff’s immediate confidence, while Kane discussed the possibility of being named alternate captain. Boughner talked about pushing Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson together on the power play again, and Dylan Gambrell’s development. Finally, Devan Dubnyk shared his thoughts about what happened in Minnesota and Ryan Merkley discussed his off-season growth.
Dubnyk Ready for Reset
Devan Dubnyk is looking for a reset.
Last year, the three-time All-Star endured a difficult season, posting his worst Save % in seven years amidst his wife going through a serious medical situation and losing his starting job to Alex Stalock.
“It’s funny. When I break down the year, I started 0-5. I would say the first four games, three or four games, I felt like were some of my best games of the year. We were just on the wrong side of the final score.
“Things kind of unraveled a bit for a couple games and then I had a small injury. It was kind of the story of the year where nothing seemed to get on track. Obviously, had the family stuff going and had to miss some time.”
All this led to bad habits that he’s ready to turn the page on.
“When things weren’t going well, I was thinking a little too much. Goalie is a reactive position. You have to let everything come to you. If you start thinking and try to force plays or overanticipate, that’s where you get into trouble,” he explained. “I got into a little bit of that last year. Just thinking a little too much. A little overactive. Not just settling down, let things come to me like I’m used to. Once it comes back, it’s natural.”
The confident 34-year-old doesn’t seem concerned about whether or not he’s getting it back.
“I’ve played a lot of hockey. I know what I’m doing. I know what it takes to get back on track here.”
What Is Dubnyk Giving Suomela for No. 40?
Devan Dubnyk has worn No. 40 for his entire career. Problem when he got traded to the San Jose Sharks? It was Antti Suomela’s number.
Was it difficult to pry away?
“There wasn’t too much resistance to passing it on,” the veteran goalie laughed. “I’m not even sure if he liked the number much.”
Suomela is now No. 14, which is the number that he wore throughout his Finnish career.
“I told him I’d take him to dinner,” Dubnyk said, before quipping, “I told him I wasn’t quite in Bobrovsky’s pay grade, so I wasn’t going to be throwing out any Rolexes.”
Merkley Isn’t Just Visiting Anymore
Ryan Merkley isn’t just visiting anymore.
The 2017 first-rounder attended his first two San Jose Sharks’ training camps knowing he was going back to juniors.
That isn’t the case now for the 20-year-old offensive whiz.
“The first two camps, you come in here and just try to watch the guys, learn. Obviously, not expecting much as a young guy,” he shared. “But now knowing I’m either with the Cuda or the Sharks, it’s an exciting time. It’s kind of nerve-wracking.”
To that end, Merkley has gained a lot of muscle and concentrated on improving his much-criticized defensive game this off-season.
“Last camp, I came in at maybe 170 pounds. Getting around 182, 183 has been big for me, just for battling in the corners, puck possession, winning my battles,” Merkley said. “Going into the corners, coming in at 182, 183 now, it’s a lot easier for me to handle my own and not get pushed around by these big guys.”
Of course, playing defense isn’t just about outmuscling your competition, it’s also about outsmarting them.
“It’s not being so aggressive,” he noted. “Let the game come to me. In the d-zone, making better reads.”
We’ll see if Merkley has grown enough to crack an opening night NHL roster.
Merkley on Dale Hunter
Merkley endured a checkered OHL career, piling up points but being shuttled to three OHL teams in four years. However, he appears to have found a home in his last stop with the London Knights under head coach Dale Hunter.
“He was awesome to play for,” Merkley offered. “It was probably the most pro-like organization I’ve been a part of. They really worked with me. They really knew who I was as a person.”
Sheng’s Travel Fund
Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.