- The San Jose Sharks and GM Mike Grier today announced several new hockey operations hires. Dominik Zrim, Director of Salary Cap Management/CBA Compliance; A.J. Bernstein, Coordinator, Hockey Analytics; Martin Uhnak, European Scout, Czechia, Slovakia, Germany, Switzerland; Cody Ward, Assistant Video Coach; and Brian Ganz, Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach. Already with the Sharks, but now promoted, is Stephen DiLustro, who was promoted to Director of Strength and Conditioning, who had been working under Mike Potenza in that role. Interestingly, Zrim is one of the co-founders of website CapFriendly, which tracks player transactions and salary, as well as salary cap related topics.
The Department of Player Safety has handed down another suspension, announcing (video link) that Kings forward Jacob Doty has received a two-game suspension for interference on Sharks winger Jeffrey Viel.
The incident occurred midway through the second period in Wednesday’s preseason contest. Doty was assessed a five-minute major penalty along with a game misconduct on the play. Viel, meanwhile, was able to remain in the game.
The league’s ruling states that the suspension is to “be served in the next two consecutive games in which he is eligible to participate for his Club”. In this case, it’s likely the next two preseason games that the 29-year-old won’t be suiting up for. Doty has spent the last three seasons in the Kings’ farm system, primarily playing with AHL Ontario; he had three points and 89 penalty minutes in 41 games with the Reign in 2021-22.
Scott Harrington’s tryout with San Jose was a successful one as the team announced that they’ve signed the 29-year-old to a one-year contract. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed while he is the first player to get upgraded to a full contract from a PTO agreement. GM Mike Grier released the following statement:
Scott came into camp on a tryout, performed well, and earned his contract. He’s a high character person and we are excited to have him join the Sharks.
Harrington spent most of last season with AHL Cleveland, an affiliate of the Blue Jackets, where he got into 50 games, recording three goals and four assists. On the surface, nothing particularly special. However, it’s worth noting that it was his first taste of action in the minors since a pair of appearances in 2016-17. Between that time, Harrington had been a regular depth defender in Columbus.
For his career, Harrington has 210 NHL games under his belt between Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Columbus with only seven of those appearances coming last season. He has 38 points in those outings while averaging 13:37 per night in ice time. Harrington will still have to battle for a roster spot but there is definitely an opening with the long-term injury to Nikolai Knyzhov. Harrington could slot in as their seventh defender, a role he’s quite comfortable holding if nothing else. If the Sharks want to send him to their AHL affiliate to start the season, however, they will need to send Harrington through waivers over the coming weeks.
After waivers opened yesterday, quite a few players have ended up on the wire today. Teams keep making cuts to their rosters, and any veteran player needs to clear before being assigned to the minor leagues. Here are the names on waivers today.
Detroit Red Wings
New York Rangers
San Jose Sharks
Tampa Bay Lightning
- San Jose Sharks forward Alexander Barabanov is considered day-to-day with a lower-body injury, Sharks coach David Quinn told the media, including Curtis Pashelka of the Bay Area News Group. Though the injury is not specified, day-to-day status should mean the injury won’t have a lasting impact that would keep the 28-year-old from being ready for opening night. The forward, who had 39 points in 70 games last season, projects to be among a few key sources of offense this year for the Sharks. Not surprisingly given this news, Barabanov is not in the lineup for tonight’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has told the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators that they will not welcome Russian-born players into the country for the Global Series games, scheduled to be held on October 7 and 8 in Prague. A report from the Associated Press confirms that a letter has been sent to the NHL explaining that visas are not to be issued to Russian players because of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
However, deputy commissioner Bill Daly has expressed “no concern” to the AP about players traveling to Czechia, and Sharks general manager Mike Grier told reporters including Corey Masisak of The Athletic that the NHL is handling the situation. Grier also explained that his position is “we all go or we don’t go,” suggesting he will not take the Sharks to Prague if Alexander Barabanov and Evgeny Svechnikov, the team’s two healthy Russian players, are not allowed to participate.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets have made several changes in their hockey operations department, naming Trevor Timmins assistant director of amateur scouting, and hiring Marshall Davidson, Dale Derkatch, and Roman Polak (previously reported) as scouts. Zac Urback has been promoted to director of hockey analytics, and Mike Eaves, formerly the head coach of the Cleveland Monsters, will now serve as a pro scout.
- Gabriel Landeskog “won’t skate anytime soon” according to Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar, who told reporters including Peter Baugh of The Athletic that the captain is still dealing with an injury from last season. Landeskog is expected to miss the start of the year.
Gabriel, 29, spent last season with the Toronto Marlies and Rockford IceHogs in the AHL, also getting two NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks. He also spent time in the Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, and San Jose Sharks organizations.
He retires with 371 AHL games under his belt, including 72 points and a whopping 639 penalty minutes. He had five points in 51 NHL games, totalling 153 penalty minutes as well.
With his 6’4″, 212-pound frame, Gabriel was one of the few prototypical enforcers left in pro hockey. Off the ice, he’s a strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Well-loved wherever he played, Gabriel promises to have many post-career options if he wants to stay in the game.
The Newmarket, Ontario native was originally a third-round draft pick of the Wild in 2013.
With Rangers prospect Nils Lundkvist’s trade request now well-known, efforts continue to find the youngster a new home for the upcoming season. If the belief that he won’t attend training camp in New York holds true, that could be a trigger point for GM Chris Drury to avoid any distractions heading into camp while getting a chance to integrate whichever player or prospect they get for the rearguard at training camp.
With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the potential suitors for Lundkvist. Since he’s looking for a team that will have a chance to give him an NHL opportunity in the short-term, the focus will be on those squads although there undoubtedly will be others that will kick the tires. Los Angeles is a team that has been speculated as a landing spot with their deep prospect pool but they don’t really have an opening on the right side of their back end for him to slide into so they don’t appear among the teams below.
Detroit: The Red Wings have two right-side rearguards in place in Calder winner Moritz Seider and young veteran Filip Hronek. There are questions behind those two, however. Gustav Lindstrom has yet to establish himself as a full-time player while Mark Pysyk will miss the first half of the season after undergoing surgery in July to repair a torn Achilles tendon. If Lundkvist was to go there and do well, it could free them up to move Hronek who is the type of blueliner that could yield a nice return for the Red Wings.
Detroit has a couple of young centers that the Rangers would likely show some interest in. One is Joe Veleno who is close to being ready for full-time duty while Jonatan Berggren, who was picked just five spots after Lundkvist in 2018, had a very promising first season in North America in 2021-22. They also have an extra second-round pick at their disposal if New York ultimately decides that a draft pick is the right return. Arthur Staple of The Athletic reported a few days ago (subscription link) that at least one team had a second-rounder on the table in an offer for the blueliner.
Montreal: At the moment, the right side of the back end for the Canadiens is David Savard, Justin Barron, and Chris Wideman. The only established full-time player out of that group is Savard. Montreal is likely to use several prospects throughout the season (Jordan Harris and Kaiden Guhle among them) but those are left-shot options, not righties like Lundkvist. It’s plausible that Lundkvist could jump into their lineup right away. Jeff Gorton, who was GM at the time Lundkvist was drafted, now works in Montreal’s front office.
While the Rangers wouldn’t be likely to get a return that could help them right away, Montreal’s prospect pool is one of the deeper ones around the league with recent center picks like Jan Mysak, Owen Beck, and Riley Kidney potentially being of interest. They could also deal from the left side of their defensive pool if New York would prefer a defenseman in return with Harris, Mattias Norlinder, and prospect Jayden Struble being possible options.
San Jose: The only established must-play right-shot defender on their roster is Erik Karlsson. Matthew Benning got a four-year deal but could bounce in and out of the lineup while Ryan Merkley could stand to spend more time in the minors before becoming an everyday regular. With Brent Burns not really being replaced after his trade to Carolina, there’s a definite need for a second defenseman to help shoulder the offensive load. Worth noting, one of New York’s former top scouts, Chris Morehouse, is now heading up San Jose’s amateur scouting ranks. He wasn’t there when Lundkvist was drafted but he’ll have some extra familiarity with the blueliner.
Center Thomas Bordeleau didn’t look out of place in his brief NHL stint late last season and acquitted himself well at the World Championship as well and is the type of young center that might entice the Rangers. Merkley himself could be an option if Drury decides to look for a similar player, one that will be more amenable to being in the minors to start the season. The Sharks don’t have an extra second-round pick but the one that they do have projects to be a good one based on the state of their roster heading into training camp.
Seattle: While the addition of Justin Schultz lessens their need for an extra offensive defenseman, the third RD spot is far from secure with William Borgen spending a lot of time as a healthy scratch last season. That’s a spot that Lundkvist could conceivably battle for or least position himself to be the first one recalled.
The Kraken don’t have the deepest of prospect pools to work with since they’ve only been around for two drafts but they do have three second-rounders for the 2023 draft. Parting with one for a potentially near-ready young defenseman would be a defensible move for the second-year squad.
Vancouver: The Canucks have been busy this summer when it comes to their forward group but nothing has been done with their back end yet and it’s not for a lack of trying. Vancouver already has an offensive weapon in Quinn Hughes but someone like Lundkvist could potentially help run a second power play group and perhaps take some minutes from veteran Oliver Ekman-Larsson who is getting near the point where he will need to be managed more carefully. With Tucker Poolman’s availability uncertain for training camp, there’s a spot on the right side of their back end up for grabs.
As for possible trade options, Linus Karlsson is coming off a strong SHL season and shouldn’t be too far away from being NHL-ready which would give New York another option down the middle. Alternatively, winger Nils Hoglander is someone that, on the surface, might be on the fringes of making Vancouver’s roster with their additions on the wing. Perhaps there’s a trade to be made featuring those two?
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list and other teams will inquire but if Lundkvist and agent Claude Lemieux’s intention is to have him start the upcoming season in the NHL, that does limit the number of viable opportunities for a trade if the Rangers decide to move him before training camp.
They don’t have to move Lundkvist, however. He’s still waiver-exempt and even if he doesn’t want to report to the minors, they can send him there and suspend him for not reporting. If it’s going to be more of a drawn-out process, a loan overseas (as they did last year with Vitali Kravtsov) is also on the table. There are certainly non-trade options they’ll want to consider but if they do decide to go ahead with a trade, they’ll have some viable teams to consider.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- 2021 seventh-overall pick William Eklund spent most of last season playing in the SHL, but that won’t be where he’s playing in 2022-23. As relayed by Corey Masisiak of The Athletic, Eklund has said that he is “definitely” staying in North America and will either play for the Sharks in the NHL or the San Jose Barracuda in the AHL, wherever the organization deems he should be. Eklund endured a difficult campaign last year as his SHL club, Djurgardens, was relegated to the Allsvenskan. His choice to make the transition to North American hockey is wise, as he’ll have the chance to continue his development under the watchful eye of the Sharks’ development staff.
11:55 AM: Seravalli has elaborated on the specific nature of the settlement. He reports that Kane will receive a “one-time payment” from San Jose, and as a result, a “cap penalty” will be retroactively applied to last season’s salary cap calculation for the Sharks, who finished last season with just under $5MM in space.
Presumably, the nature of this settlement means the cap implications of the agreement are entirely in the past and will not have an impact on GM Mike Grier’s roster-building decisions moving forward.
11:04 AM: One of the oddities of this NHL offseason was the cloud of a grievance hanging over Evander Kane, the San Jose Sharks, and the Edmonton Oilers. Kane had filed for wrongful termination of his previous contract with the Sharks, while the Oilers had signed him anyway, with the hope that things could be settled and Kane could continue to play in Edmonton.
It appears as though that will be the case, as Kevin Weekes of ESPN reports that a verbal settlement has been reached between the Sharks and Kane. Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff expands on the details, explaining that the Sharks are expected to face a salary cap charge because of the settlement, though are mitigating the risk that an arbitration decision could have brought.
When his contract was terminated, Kane had three years and $19MM in salary remaining. His new four-year contract with Edmonton is worth $16.5MM over those same three seasons, leaving a disparity of $2.5MM. Darren Dreger of TSN tweets that the settlement is expected to “come close” to making up that difference, though it is not clear how the cap charge will be applied at this point.
Even if it is just $2.5MM spread over three seasons, it is meaningful. The Sharks currently have less than $250K left under the cap ceiling with a projected 23-man roster, meaning any additional penalties will make things tight for this season. Of course, that is the much-preferred option to having Kane’s entire contract on the books, which would have been possible if he won the grievance and was reinstated.
The Sharks moved on from Kane quite some time ago, stashing him in the minor leagues for the start of last season until they could terminate the contract. He then joined the Oilers on a one-year deal and scored 22 goals and 39 points in 43 games down the stretch. He re-signed with Edmonton and now carries a cap hit of $5.125MM through 2025-26.