San Jose Sharks’ free agency acquisition Nico Sturm spoke to the media about his decision to sign with San Jose on Monday afternoon.
One funny realization that came from Sturm’s first meeting with San Jose media was that both he and new Shark Luke Kunin were in Greece when they became Sharks. That’s not the only Sturm-Kunin connection: Sturm says he was linemates with Kunin with the Minnesota Wild, along with Jordan Greenway. Kunin was a 2016 Wild first-round pick, while Sturm was signed by Minnesota out of Clarkson.
Sturm made his NHL debut in Apr. 2019 and was dealt to the Colorado Avalanche during this past Trade Deadline. It was a good deal for Sturm: He’s still soaking in his Stanley Cup victory with the Avalanche. Sturm mentioned that his day with the Cup is coming up this weekend, and he’ll be enjoying it around his native Augsburg, Germany. Part of the day will be spent at Curt Frenzel Stadium, so fans can see the Cup up close and personal.
“I keep close ties to the team here,” Sturm said of DEL’s Augsburger Panther, who play at Curt Frenzel. “I skate with them every summer and obviously, they’re going to play a huge part in my day with the Cup. Like I said, they were a big part of my journey, and, rightfully so, I’ll bring the Cup back where my journey started.”
As for why he’s continuing his hockey journey with the San Jose Sharks, Sturm recognized that he was not the top signing priority of the Avalanche, and though he would have loved to stay, he started looking for a new opportunity and a new challenge. Minutes before putting pen to paper with the Sharks, a positive call with GM Mike Grier made the decision easy.
“For sure would have loved to stay in Colorado,” Sturm repeated, “but we all know that’s just part of the business sometimes. Especially in this salary cap era, there’s sometimes no room for where you really want to go and then you look for a new opportunity and a team that really wants you. I’m super excited. Couldn’t be more excited for next year.
Sturm has shown that he can be a championship-caliber fourth-line center, but he’s hoping that he can seize San Jose’s 3C role next year: “I want to take the next step in my career here.” Sturm scored nine goals and 11 assists in 74 games this past season, won 53 percent of his faceoffs, and was a penalty-killing staple.
After he signed, Sturm said he sent Grier a text saying that he’s thankful for the opportunity he’s getting with the Sharks and that he’s excited to bring his style of play to San Jose. He went on to specifically talk about his grittiness and ability to play hard along the boards, something that he says he has in common with Sharks’ Draft day trade acquisition Kunin.
“He’s got that physical edge,” Sturm said of his Wild linemate. “I remember he can drop the gloves if need be and he’s also got that sneaky scoring touch. I think we’re kind of probably in a similar spot where we both feel like we can still expand our game offensively. He’s definitely a player that’s kind of in the same mold, I would say, as me.”
Grier is betting that his new cadre of forwards, Sturm, Kunin, and Oskar Lindblom can flourish in the elevated roles that are waiting for them in the Bay.
Of course, Sturm is a familiar name to San Jose Sharks fans. Sharks’ 1996 first-round pick Marco Sturm was one of the first German NHL stars, thrilling San Jose Arena fans before he was traded to the Boston Bruins in a package for Joe Thornton in 2005.
There’s no relation between Nico and Marco Sturm though, please don’t ask (again).
Nico Sturm chuckled, on coming to Marco Sturm's old stomping grounds: "I'm sure we'll see one or two [Marco Sturm jerseys] and I'm probably going to have to answer the question if we're related a couple times again." (They're not)
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) July 18, 2022
He went on to comment that when he was growing up, it was more difficult to watch NHL games in Germany than it is now, but that the two teams he was most aware of were the Sharks and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“We didn’t have those means back in the day, so the only thing I remember is that my dad actually has a really, really old San Jose Sharks t-shirt. I gotta ask him [about it]. I’m not sure where that came from, or why he bought it,” the 27-year-old recalled. “I just remember he used to wear that a lot when I was a little kid.”
That’s something that’ll surely make Marco Sturm or the San Jose Sharks’ German owner Hasso Plattner smile.
It may be time for Nico Sturm’s dad to get a new Sharks shirt, and this time, Sturm will know exactly why his dad has it.
Sturm is also excited that the Sharks will be playing what he called a “friendly” in Berlin this fall, saying he’ll have many friends and family there.
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