Programming note: Sharks-Hurricanes coverage starts Tuedsay at 7 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
A pre-trade deadline mailbag as the Sharks prepare to open a four-game homestand on Tuesday night…
@KKurzCSN What positions would be of interest in adding before trade deadline? (@xMostWanted559x)
If Brad Stuart is on long term injured reserve, an assumption that the venerable CapGeek.com made considering the Sharks’ salary cap situation, the team could once again be looking for a depth defenseman along the lines of their acquisition of Scott Hannan this time last year. Stuart, if you recall, missed training camp with an unspecified lower body injury and it’s quite possible he’s been playing hurt.
A depth forward would also be preferable, but again, the Sharks’ are up against the salary cap. If they are going to bring players in, they’ll likely have to move salary out, and that could be difficult considering some current contracts and no-trade clauses that are on the books.
Do you think we need a big deadline deal to keep up if LA makes one? (Julian Francisco)
The last thing the Sharks should do is make a reactionary deal if/when the Kings do anything. They are in a better place than Los Angeles, and look like a slightly more viable threat to make a deep playoff run at this point anyway.
[RELATED: NHL standings]
At what point will we have a goalie controversy on our hands if Stalock keeps winning and Nemo continues to let in bad goals? (Rik Massei)
I’ve always hated the word “controversy” when it comes to which goaltender should play. But, like I said on Sharks Postgame Live after the win over the Devils, it should at least be a lively debate in the coach’s office among the staff these days.
It wouldn’t be unprecedented if Alex Stalock continues to play better than Antti Niemi and gets the call in Game 1 of the postseason. Niemi knows that well, as he became the Blackhawks’ starter late in the 2009-10 season and helped win them a Stanley Cup.
For now, I expect McLellan will continue to platoon his two goaltenders. There are still 20 games left in the season, and I believe his hope is that Niemi will play much more consistently than he did before the Olympic break and reclaim his undisputed starter status headed into the playoffs. It's arguably the most compelling storyline around this team in the final six weeks of the season.
Does Tyler Kennedy seem like a bad fit in the Sharks system? (Angel Aguirre)
It’s been a struggle for Kennedy in his first year with the Sharks. Early on it looked like he would be a perfect fit, as he was flying up and down the ice and shooting at every opportunity – just what the Sharks wanted him to do. Unfortunately, it seems like Kennedy hasn’t picked up on some of the finer details of the Sharks’ system, particularly in the defensive zone, and as a result he’s been in and out of the lineup.
What hasn’t helped Kennedy is that he’s frequently moved from one line to another, mostly due to the team’s injury issues. Perhaps if he plays with Joe Pavelski on a third line with, say, Raffi Torres, he can find a way to get going.
[RELATED: Line changes spur Sharks to win over Devils]
There are no worries from the coaching staff when it comes to Kennedy’s work ethic and his desire to have a bigger impact. But, he’s running out of time.
Why do you think McLellan is keeping the line of Pavelski/Thornton/Burns together instead of moving Pavelski back to the 3rd line center? (Erik Nelsen)
I also expected Pavelski to move back to third line center now that just about everyone is healthy, but I can see the logic behind it (Pavelski’s hat trick last Thursday in Philly helped in that regard).
The team is apparently going to ease Torres back into the lineup, which is no surprise considering the severity of his right knee injury. I believe Torres and Pavelski on a third line is still optimal, but only when Torres gets back to full speed.
Brent Burns’ disappearing act could also be playing a role. The forward has looked lost in the three games since the Olympic break, and was finally moved off of that line against New Jersey. He’ll have to find his game in the final stretch, as it’s now a whopping 19 games and counting he has failed to put the puck in the net while playing primarily on a line with one of the NHL’s best all-time passers.
@KKurzCSN Who do the #SJSharks not want to meet in the playoffs? Conversely, who would they match up the best against? (Nicholas Aftowicz @nikanobi)
This one’s easy. They want to win the division. A first round matchup against Phoenix, Dallas, Minnesota or Vancouver is much more preferable than playing the Kings.
Why do the Sharks waste $1.8 million on Adam Burish, when Mike Brown and James Sheppard bring so much more for less money? (Matt Moore)
I’m not quite sure how one relates to the other, but Burish hasn’t lived up to his contract. A lack of a real training camp in 2013 and his back injury this season haven’t exactly helped.
As for comparing him with Brown and Sheppard, we’re talking about three players that are expected to make up the team’s fourth line. I think on some nights, a line of Burish, Brown and Andrew Desjardins can be an effective, agitating group. I can also see Sheppard rotating in, if the coaching staff wants to go inject a little more skill.
@KKurzCSN Who were your Stanley Cup picks before the season? Who are they now? (Joe Hospodor @ABoyAndHisTeam)
Look it up if you need proof, but I picked St. Louis and Boston. I’m sticking with it.
Believe it or not, the last three preseasons I’ve actually picked five of the last six Stanley Cup finalists. Damn you, 2012 Sabres.