After a double-overtime thriller in which the Vegas Golden Knights took a 2-0 lead in their first-round series with the Los Angeles Kings, the San Jose Sharks will attempt to take a 2-0 lead of their own tonight against the Anaheim Ducks. The Sharks, who picked up a 3-0 victory Thursday on the road, got a surprise during pre-game warmups when injured veteran center Joe Thornton participated in the pre-game skate before Thursday’s game. According to Paul Gackle of the Mercury News, Thornton is close to returning to the team, but isn’t yet ready.
Thornton, who went down in January with a torn MCL injury, has been rehabbing for the past 11 weeks, but has said that unlike last year when he returned from a knee injury after just two weeks for the playoff run, he intends to make sure he isn’t a distraction to the team before returning. However, the more wins that the Sharks can pick up in the meantime can buy time until Thornton believes he is fully healthy and ready to return to the lineup.
- Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal writes that the Edmonton Oilers are desperate to repair their defense and wants to trade for a top-line defenseman. While he suggests the team could offer up its lottery pick in a deal to get Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson or work out some type of deal to get Colorado’s Tyson Barrie, neither is realistic. The team’s best chance at solving their defensive issues is right-handed shot Justin Faulk from the Carolina Hurricanes. The 26-year-old is falling down the Hurricanes’ depth charts with the emergence of younger defensemen like Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. Faulk would also fix their logjam of left-handed defenseman as several defenseman such as Andrej Sekera and Kris Russell are left-handed, but playing on the right side. The problem is that Carolina wants a forward back. So who are they going to send?
- Matheson, in the same article, adds that the Oilers have no intention of trading Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who might be their best trade chip. The center was rumored to be a trade candidate with his high salary ($6MM AAV) over the next three years. However, the team believes he might be the perfect linemate for Connor McDavid as a wing, which would move youngster Ryan Strome to the third-line center position. Nugent-Hopkins is coming off a season where he tied his career-high in goals with 24 (and he missed 20 games this season).