There’s some good news and some bad news for the Sharks. The good news is that the Sharks have one of the best young defensive corps in the league, a position that will take the Sharks as far as talent on the blue line can take them. The bad news is that the Sharks also have one of the youngest defenses in the league, which not unlike raising children, results in a lot of excitement, and a lot of frustration as well.
With the Sharks’ system of defense first, it is essential that they get defensive production not only from the blue line, but also from the forward positions while on the transition. The Sharks have reason to be happy with the defensive play of Brad Stuart, Scott Hannan and Shawn Heins back on the blue line, however, it has often been from the forwards where the Sharks have lacked defensive production.
As Shawn Heins finishes his unusual road to the NHL, he has found himself in various roles for the Sharks, and has done quite well. Not only has he stepped in on defense as the team’s seventh defenseman, but he has also stepped in nicely as a fourth line wing when necessary.
Heins’ best weapon has always been his shot, which has been clocked as the hardest shot in professional hockey. In the past however, he has always struggled in reading defenses, reacting accordingly, and getting his shot unleashed at the right times.
This year, while his reaction times still leave something to be desired, he is reading plays much better, and thus has learned to use his shot to his advantage better. He has improved his accur Read more»
As the Sharks’ 2000/01 campaign passes its 1/3rd mark, one can not discount the impact of several Sharks youngsters such as Mark Smith, Patrick Marleau, Marco Sturm, and of course, the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for November, Evgeni Nabokov. One thing is for certain, if not for the Sharks’ core of young players, they would not be in a position where many teams are beginning to key on the Sharks as one of the top teams.
“It’s a real eye-opener that top clubs are getting ready for us now. We’re not going to sneak up on people anymore,” said Jeff Friesen after a tie against the Western Conference Champion, Dallas Stars.
For the Sharks to continue their development they will have to continue playing well and beat teams like the Dallas Stars, and others who are perennial favorites to win their respective divisions. It is one thing to beat the teams you are supposed to beat, however, to make the next jump to the next level, the Sharks must begin beating the top teams in the league. To do that, they will need help from every source available.
To start the year, the Sharks began with two rookies at forward, Mark Smith and Matt Bradley. The return from injury by Owen Nolan, impressive play of Tony Granato, and inconsistent play has resulted in Bradley being assigned to the Kentucky Thoroughblades of the AHL after being a healthy scratch in several games. Not having Matt Bradley on the roster for the Sharks results in a slight loss of team speed, and an extra player who has the ability to pinch in offensively as well. If he can Read more»
As the Sharks started their 10th season, there were areas that were unquestionably keys for the Sharks if they were to succeed. By far, the two most important areas were getting the free agents signed, and the improvement of young players such as Patrick Marleau, Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Scott Hannan. Of those two objectives, the first was accomplished successfully, with only Owen Nolan out opening night. However, the jury is still out on the development of the younger players.
The first two games of the year, Patrick Marleau looked more out of place than he did last year. There were times when he literally stood there and did practically nothing, while his opponents were whizzing past for scoring chances or turnovers. However, after those first couple games, Marleau has improved a great deal.
Since then, Marleau seems to have taken on a new attitude towards his game.
“The key is to keep the intensity up and play level high,” said Marleau after nearly connecting on several chances vs. Boston, and scoring once.
In that game he scored a bit of a fluke goal, but created many more chances that were either saved, shot wide, or hit the post. The biggest difference is that he’s creating chances that he wasn’t creating last year. He’s using his speed and natural ability to if nothing else, get the puck deep in the offensive zone. He may not get a point, but it’s often his work that is paying off in the long run of a 60-minute game.
One could make a case that Marco Sturm has been the unsung hero of this young season. While his numbers don’t j Read more»
He’s one of the youngest players in the league. He was 5th on his team
in scoring. He just became eligible to drink liquor in the United
States less than a month ago. At 21 years old, he’s already earned more
money than most people will see in a lifetime.
For most people his age, their biggest worries are cramming for the
college exam they didn’t study for, and which party they’ll be going to
the next night. For Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks, his worries
far exceed the average 21 year old student.
After a disappointing junior year, the Sharks young center may already
be facing a make or break year. If he struggles this year, there will
undoubtedly be comparisons to former Shark poster-boy, Pat Falloon. If
he does in fact struggle, those comparisons very well be justified.
However, if he rebounds, last year will be remembered as nothing more
than a bump along the road.
Entering the league in his rookie year at just 18 years old, Marleau had
what can be best described as an “expected” season. No one expected him
to jump out and score 30 goals. The Sharks simply hoped he would chime
in about a dozen goals and show signs of the brilliance he showed in
junior hockey and that’s exactly what he did. He scored 13 goals and 19
assists, and showed signs of the brilliance that he showed in Seattle of
For his second year, the Sharks hoped he would continue to build on his Read more»
As the 2000/01 approaches, the Sharks have question marks ranging from who will make it, who will be signed, and who will be thrust into action sooner than expected.
With the number of potential holdouts, it would not be inconceivable to see faces like Jim Montgomery, Shawn Heins, Robert Jindrich and Jarrett Deuling to see action, where otherwise, they would almost assuredly be in Kentucky of the AHL. They are combined with the possible debuts of Mark Smith and Matt Bradley, which adds up to some very interesting, and frightening possibilities for the Sharks.
The first hurdle the Sharks are faced with is signing many of their young players. There are still eight players who are restricted free agents, including the team’s identity, Owen Nolan, their goaltender, Steve Shields, and their possible future in Patrick Marleau. Also on the list are Yevgeni Nabokov, Marcus Ragnarsson, Marco Sturm, Todd Harvey and Alex Korolyuk. Read more»