Originally, Mikael Granlund was supposed to center William Eklund and Luke Kunin in Saturday night’s pre-season game.
But Granlund, suffering from a nagging but supposedly minor lower-body injury, was replaced by top prospect Thomas Bordeleau.
“Test him again,” San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn said, of the decision to play Bordeleau over other available centers.
If we’re being honest, the 21-year-old center did not pass this test with flying colors in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
“I didn’t love a lot of our forwards,” Quinn said of an uninspired offensive effort against LA’s JV squad, when asked about Bordeleau.
The bench boss was quick to soften the blow though.
“I’m gonna give a bunch of guys a little bit of an out here. He’s played a lot of hockey. He played the other night in Anaheim. We’ve practiced two hard days,” Quinn said. “We’re practicing to prepare for the [Oct. 12 season opener], not for tonight. That can get lost in the evaluation sometimes.”
Bordeleau has practiced or played a game in each of the last five days. Of course, you can say that about a number of other San Jose Sharks forwards.
So no matter what, time is running out for the waiver-exempt Bordeleau, in his quest to break camp with the Sharks. And every game and practice, fresh or not, he’s got to make an impression.
“There’s always flashes with him,” Quinn offered.
Here are two plays I liked, two plays I didn’t like from Bordeleau last night.
This is Bordeleau at his best, playing and seeing and executing fast.
Luke Kunin (11) drops the puck on the power play breakout, and Bordeleau (17) knows that Taylor Ward (52) will be on top of him quick. Bordeleau also knows that William Eklund (72) is coming up with him, and critically, he’s able to one-touch a pass that Eklund is able to catch in stride. Bordeleau’s precision helps pull the overaggressive Ward away from the middle of the ice, which allows Eklund to gain the zone with ease, and the two top San Jose Sharks prospects nearly finish off a gorgeous give-and-go.
Of course, we know that Bordeleau is highly skilled, that’s never been in question. But what has been questioned is his defensive commitment.
Here though, Bordeleau shows solid defensive awareness behind his net, tying up Akil Thomas (41) in their race for a loose puck. It’s a small play, but it makes it easy for Shakir Mukhamadullin (85) to gain possession.
Flashes, however, don’t keep you in the NHL.
Puck management has been an issue for Bordeleau from the get-go, and watching it live, I thought he was trying, from the corner, a backhand stretch pass up the middle to Eklund. Looking at it again, maybe he just misses Kunin, who’s breaking out right by him, on the short pass. I’m not sure.
One mistake is completely unacceptable – you can’t try a stretch pass up the middle like that unless you’re 100 percent sure. The other mistake is just execution – that pass looks too hard for Kunin to handle.
Either way, that’s a turnover in a really bad place.
You can appreciate Bordeleau’s intentions here, he’s trying to put the puck in an area where Eklund can be dangerous. But it’s just too easy for Andreas Englund (5) to intercept it. That’s not an NHL play.
Of course, it’s just one game. But it’s also representative, I think, of the best and worst from Bordeleau since he made his NHL debut two years ago.
Will Bordeleau get another look? The San Jose Sharks have just two pre-season games left, usually considered regular season tune-ups. So Quinn is probably going to run pretty close to a regular season roster for those contests.
“He’s done good things, for sure. He’s done some really good things,” Quinn said of Bordeleau’s camp. “I’ve always loved him as a player and he’s certainly in the conversation.”
Eklund, also competing for a roster spot on a deeper Sharks forward corps, was better in this game, according to Quinn, than he was on Tuesday night.
He stood out among a lackluster bunch.
“I thought he was pretty good, actually. He was a guy that was noticeable and played at a pace,” Quinn said. “I thought our forwards looks slow tonight.”
“I think my camp has gone in an upwards direction. I like that,” Eklund said. “That was my game today, I think I had a lot more shots. I was just trying to attack the net even more.”
Eklund has just one shot and two shot attempts (and a goal) on Tuesday, upping that to four shots and six attempts on Saturday.
While Quinn shut down the idea of Mukhamadullin starting the season with the Sharks earlier this week, he couldn’t deny that the raw 21-year-old blueliner impressed again. When we’re talking about North American hockey, the KHL import has just 15 AHL games on his resume.
“He played very well. You just love his poise. His size and his range. There’s a lot to like,” Quinn said of his 6-foot-4 rearguard. “He’s been one of our better defensemen in camp.”
Finally, Magnus Chrona was excellent in his NHL (pre-season) debut, stopping 28 of 30 shots. He’s had a good first pro camp, and Quinn liked what he saw last night – what he could see.
“He makes it look easy. The puck hits him, he knows where he’s supposed to be, he doesn’t overreact,” Quinn said. “You don’t see any net [with Chrona]. Standing behind the bench, I don’t see any net. Gets to spots and has a calmness to him. You know he doesn’t get rattled.”
Sheng’s Travel Fund
Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.
Get SJHN in your inbox!
Extra Hour Hockey Training
Cathy’s Power Skating
What Long-Term Defensive Lessons Must Eklund, Sharks Learn? (+)
SJHN Daily: Emberson, Carpenter Placed on IR
3 Plays I Liked From Addison Last Night (+)
Sharks Locker Room: Starting To Score, Still Not Defending
Sharks Almost Author Great Comeback, Lose 6-5 to Rangers
Patrick Marleau’s Favorite San Jose Restaurants
Everything Grier Said: From Plattner to Quinn to Celebrini (+)
SJHN Daily: Ex-Jr. Sharks Coach Kevin Whitmer Arrested for Sexual Assault on Minor
Winners & Losers From Calen Addison Trade
What’s NHL Scout’s Take on Calen Addison? (+)
Should Sharks Trade or Keep Blackwood?
Sharks Locker Room: Hertl, Quinn Bemoan Powerless 5-on-3
Sharks Locker Room: Quinn Likes How Team Stood Up to Wilson, Bailey ‘Starving’ for NHL Shot
Sharks Locker Room: Quinn Praises Eklund’s ‘More Complete’ Game, Hertl on Blocking Out Outside
Sharks Locker Room: Duclair, Ferraro, Quinn Talk Turkey of a Performance
Sharks Team & Cap Info
SJHN on Facebook