Earlier today, the San Jose Sharks announced the signings of Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto:
Here are highlights from their press availability today: Marleau talked about Joe Thornton and Nieto discussed the path that led him back to San Jose. Doug Wilson also jumped on and admitted, I think for the first time in public, the mistakes he made earlier this season, and his thoughts about how the Sharks are going to play next year.
Marleau, on Joe Thornton:
We’ve texted here and there. Obviously, if Joe came back…we’ve had a lot of years together, that would be a comforting thing for myself and I’m sure a lot of the other guys. Not too sure what’s he going to decide to do. But would love to be able to be on the same club with him.
Marleau, on if his kids are playing hockey and how they affected his decision to keep playing:
All four of them are in it this year.
Caleb, my youngest, is just starting out. Been able to get out there with him, try to help him out.
I appreciate [being able to play in front of my kids]. But there’s some critics too when I come home. They let me know what’s going on, if things didn’t go this way or that way. It’s pretty fun to be able to talk to them about that. They’re a huge reason why I’m still playing. I couldn’t play without their support.
They all want me to continue to play and have fun. I don’t know if it’s they want to watch me play or if they want to watch some of the star players play. (laughs) Or if they want to come into the locker room and grab some gum and Gatorade. I don’t know what it is, but it’s been fun.
Marleau, on if he considered any other teams besides San Jose in free agency:
I didn’t really look at too many other places. I was just trying to come back here. I’m thankful that it all worked out.
Nieto, on the favor San Jose did him by waiving him in 2017 and how that affected his decision to return:
It was a favor for sure. At that point, I wasn’t playing a lot of games. All I wanted to do was play games. So Doug gave me that opportunity. I found a home in Colorado.
When I made the decision to come back to San Jose, I have good relationships with Doug and everybody I was involved with here. It was really a simple decision for me.
Wilson, on adding depth and competition to San Jose Sharks line-up:
We certainly want to leave opportunities for the Gregors and Gambrells, players like that. But having depth is crucial. What we’ve tried to do is try to create depth and competition.
We added Dubynk and Melnichuk for goalie competition, for example. Ryan Donato for young forward competition. And Patrick [Marleau] and [Matt Nieto] for forward competition.
That’s what we need.
Looking back, maybe I didn’t have enough depth and competition last year, early in the season. We didn’t want to go down that path. That’s why we done what we’ve done.
Wilson, on Matt Nieto:
Without Barclay and Melker Karlsson being here, we needed somebody who was familiar that could do that job. Matty can do that job, and he does it in a way with speed.
We want to get faster as a group.
One of the other things I really liked about Matty is when he went to Colorado, they went through a resurgence. How they did it? They got back to details, they brought a new coach in. They really turned it around pretty quickly.
His experience not only with us in the 2016 Stanley Cup run, but what he went through in Colorado, he can share that also.
Both these guys are such quality guys, great teammates too, them coming back into our dressing room is a big add-on.
Wilson, on importance of Patrick Marleau breaking Gordie Howe’s all-time games played record in a San Jose Sharks uniform:
It’s important. He’s one of the most iconic players not only in Sharks history, but the NHL’s history.
It’s not just about this record though. Patty is a competitor. He wants to compete. He loves the game. His elite-level fitness is inspiring to everybody, to our young players.
He may not say a lot but he says an awful lot with his actions.
And if he’s going to set that record — which is an incredible, incredible record — it should be in a Sharks jersey.
Wilson, on Joe Thornton and if “has the door been closed” on Jumbo’s return to San Jose:
I talked to Jumbo a couple days ago.
Any conversations that he and I have are always kept in confidence.
The respect and admiration we have for him as a player, as a person, as a man, what he’s done for this organization…but those conversations stay between him and I.
We communicate quite a bit. We want what’s best for Jumbo and for everybody involved.
But as I said, those conversations stay between him and I.
Wilson, on what he still might be looking to add via free agency or trade:
It’s still going to be quite a while until we start up.
Getting our depth taken care of, getting competition in all parts of our line-up is very important. We have some young guys who are telling me don’t get anybody else, bring anybody in. This is a competition we want. We want to take these jobs.
My response is, well, just come in and take the job. Don’t wait for the door to open, knock it down. Put the work in.
It doesn’t mean there’s not other things we’re not still exploring. We’ve made trades — one of the biggest trades we’ve ever made was in training camp a couple years ago. We’re open to a lot of things. Having the flexibility, the depth of players to be able to give the coaching staff different combinations is really important. Once we get everybody back together, we can take a look at what we have, what we need, what opportunities are still out there.
That part is still going to be fluid.
Wilson, on what he thinks of current San Jose Sharks roster:
It reminds me a little bit of my first year. You can’t really compare this year to any else. But we had a lot of unknowns. People said well geez, you’re going to go with younger players. You’ve got guys who didn’t have a great year the year before.
We went to the Western Conference Finals, we made the playoffs, people were shocked.
In this league, there’s such parity. We have high-end players. Take a look at our defense. We have four 30-goal scorers. A 60-point guy. Two Norris Trophy guys.
We’ve got to get off to a great start, be connected as a group. The results will take care of themselves.
Do I think this is a playoff team with this roster? Yes, I do.
I felt that the first year when I came in.
We have a certain amount of talent. There’s no doubt. But you have to have a team that plays the right way. Plays for each other.
I think our group is looking forward to some of the adjustments and changes in our style of play. We want to get quicker as a team. We want to attack. We certainly have to defend a whole lot better in our d-zone at 5-on-5.
Agent on UFA Gridlock, Gambrell & Kellman on Jumbo’s Departure
The free agency gridlock is real — and according to an agent, there’s no end in the sight.
It’s not just the money being handed out, or lack thereof, it’s also the rush, or lack thereof, to sign guys.
To illustrate, 19 days into free agency, six of TSN’s final top-20 free agents are still on the board: Mike Hoffman, Erik Haula, Corey Perry, Mikael Granlund, Anthony Duclair, and Sami Vatanen.
Last summer, just two of TSN’s top-20 were available after 12 days of free agency: Ben Hutton and Jake Gardiner.
“The length of time until the season starts is probably affecting [this off-season’s free agents],” an agent told San Jose Hockey Now. “There’s not much rush right now since who knows when NHL camps even open?”
This is on top of revenue concerns that every organization is facing.
So the teams are in no rush to commit — and in some cases, the players aren’t either.
This particular agent agreed that players might see better offers once there’s more certainty with when the 2020-21 season will begin.
So while we know there are multiple teams in on the likes of Hoffman, Haula, and Conor Sheary, it might be a while yet before all these dominos fall.
No Conor Sheary Update
Speaking of Sheary, San Jose Hockey Now broke last week that the San Jose Sharks were talking to his camp.
At the moment, however, SJHN doesn’t have an additional Sheary update.
That’s no surprise. It is, after all, an unusually stagnant market.
Gambrell, Kellman on Thornton
A week and a half ago, when Joe Thornton left the San Jose Sharks for Toronto, San Jose Hockey Now reached out to a few Sharks to ask them about Jumbo’s departure.
Kevin Labanc was quick to reply; over the last week, a couple more Sharks have responded.
Dylan Gambrell texted: “Huge loss, big presence, and has been such a key piece for the Sharks for a very long time. Someone I looked up to very much and learned a ton from.
“I wish him nothing but the best and you can ask just about anyone how much he’ll be missed. With that said, it’s up to us as a team to step up and make up for that presence going forward and I know we have the guys in the locker room to do that.”
Gambrell, who the San Jose Sharks hope can step up to help fill Thornton’s void on the ice, has spent most of the last half-year in Denver. The 24-year-old forward plans to be in San Jose in about a week, to join the likes of Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, and Labanc, who have been skating together.
Meanwhile, over 5,000 miles away, Joel Kellman won’t be back soon — he’s playing for Allsvenskan’s Kristianstads IK right now.
Kellman messaged SJHN about the San Jose Sharks legend: “I was so happy I got to play with him for a couple months! He was just a true professional, always working hard on and off the ice. That’s why he’s been good for so many years.”
Meeting Mr. Robins
Erik and JD look into the second of the San Jose Sharks’ two second-round draft picks, Tristen Robbins. We review his statistical profile and where he lands on some draft models. Then, we look at his tape to determine his strengths and weaknesses (8:00) as well as why his numbers exploded over the second half of the season. We finish by looking at his timeline for making the NHL (18:00). Check out the podcast on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
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