In this edition of San Jose Sharks News & Rumors, the organization hopes that their two new goaltenders in Adin Hill and James Reimer, can bring stability to the position for the first time in years. In other news, Evander Kane continues to dominate headlines, as he was told not to attend Sharks training camp due to new allegations from his estranged wife. On top of that, he is now being investigated by the league for potential COVID-19 protocol violations. Meanwhile, Tomas Hertl, who has also been discussed a ton lately, said he is willing to take a team discount under certain circumstances. Last but not least, Nikolai Knyzhov’s status for the season opener is in doubt as he is currently battling injury.
Banking on Change of Goaltenders
Last season, the Sharks gave up the most goals in the entire league. Both of their goalies in Martin Jones and Devan Dubnyk played well below league average. As a result, the latter was traded to the Colorado Avalanche at last year’s trade deadline, while the other was bought out this offseason.
Though Dubnyk played only one season with the Sharks, Jones was with them for a number of years and struggled in the last three, which played a huge role in the team’s struggles. General manager Doug Wilson has tried to fix that problem this offseason, bringing in both Adin Hill and James Reimer.
The 33-year-old Reimer is by no means an elite netminder, as shown by his 2.66 goals-against average, along with a .906 save percentage in 22 games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season. Even still, those numbers are a far improvement on what the Sharks had in 2020-21, and he will be a welcomed addition. The more intriguing add, however, is Adin Hill.
The 25-year-old has only played in a total of 49 NHL games but has shown glimpses of how good he can be during his stints with the Arizona Coyotes. Management hopes he can split time with Reimer in the early going and eventually become the team’s number one. If Sunday’s performance against the Vegas Golden Knights, in which he stopped 21 of 23 shots in a 4-2 win, is a sign of what’s to come, Sharks fans should be very pleased. One particular player in the organization, Lane Pederson, who spent several years with Hill in the American Hockey League, says he can play like this all year long. (from ‘Curtis Pashelka: Sharks forward says Adin Hill’s first start was ‘a glimpse of how good he is”, The Mercury News — 09/27/21).
“I think what you guys saw last night is a glimpse of how good a goalie he is,” Pederson said. “(There’s) a really quiet confidence to him. He really believes in himself, and I think when you have a goaltender that does that, I think that instills confidence in the rest of the group.”
Expectations for the Sharks this upcoming season are pretty low right now, given how they’ve performed in each of the past two seasons. However, it is possible that getting a competent netminder could go a long way in turning things around. It will be interesting to watch Hill this season to see whether or not he can establish himself as a starting netminder at the NHL level.
More Trouble Facing Kane
When Sharks’ training camp began last Thursday, a notable player was missing in Kane. The night prior, the team released a statement saying he would not be welcome due to new allegations from his estranged wife, Anna.
“We take the allegations very seriously and have been in communication with the NHL,” the statement read. “The league will continue to have our cooperation regarding the ongoing investigation.”
Though Kane was cleared of any wrongdoing in previous allegations claiming he was betting on his own games last season, Anna has since come forward stating that the 30-year-old allegedly both sexually and physically abused her on multiple occasions. There have been no further updates on this since.
That isn’t the only trouble Kane finds himself in, as the NHL announced on Tuesday morning that they are also looking into him violating league COVID-19 protocols. As per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, it is unknown as of right now as to what Kane may or may not have done to warrant this. Regardless, it is yet another headline that brings more negative attention to the Sharks. Despite how great of a player he is on the ice, he has become a major distraction this offseason, and he may very well never play another game with the organization as a result of everything that’s unfolded.
Hertl Not in It for the Money
Much has been made in the last month or so regarding the contract situation of Hertl. The 27-year-old is in the final season of his four-year, $22.5 million deal, which carries an AAV of $5.625 million. While his play has undoubtedly earned him a raise, he made it clear that he cares more about winning than making money.
“(Joe Thornton) was one of those guys, he could take way more money, but he takes less because he wants a really good team,” Hertl told the press on Friday. “I like that idea. You can go somewhere else, sign the maximum, even maybe too much, but you’re losing for eight years.
“I don’t want to be in this position. I just don’t want to say I will take less and just take it for the team, but I think I’m a little bit for that idea.”
It certainly sounds like he is open to taking a discount with the Sharks, however, he is also candid about wanting to be on a winning team. How San Jose performs this upcoming season could go a long way in determining whether or not he signs an extension, something general manager Doug Wilson has made very clear he wants to have happen.
Knyzhov’s Health Status in Limbo
When training camp first began, Knyzhov was considered by head coach Bob Boughner to be day-to-day with a lingering injury. Since then, however, things have changed, and he is now being listed as week-to-week. He has still yet to hit the ice during camp. (from “Curtis Pashelka: Sharks defenseman’s status for season-opener could be in doubt,” The Mercury News — 09/27/21).
“At this point, we’re leaning towards he’s going to be in the opener,” Boughner said. “I think that we’re going to get him ready hopefully for the last two games of the preseason. But I definitely can’t say that it’s for sure yet.”
Knyzhov, 23, was a pleasant surprise for the Sharks last season. After appearing in his first three NHL games in 2019-20, he could carve out a full-time role at the NHL level last season, suiting up for all 56 games. In those 56 games, he was able to chip in with two goals and 10 points while averaging just under 17 minutes of ice time. He will be hoping to get healthy soon, as he is in the final year of his three-year entry-level deal and will be looking for a new contract next offseason, assuming he isn’t extended beforehand.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.