Mike Grier

Eight takeaways from Sharks GM Grier's pre-draft press conference

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Editor's Note: Sheng Peng will be a regular contributor to NBC Sports California’s Sharks coverage. You can read more of his coverage on San Jose Hockey Now, listen to him on the San Jose Hockey Now Podcast, and follow him on Twitter at @Sheng_Peng.

It’s going to be a busy couple weeks for the Sharks.

This Friday night, it’s the first round of the 2024 NHL Draft.

On Saturday, it’s the second through seventh rounds.

On Sunday, restricted free agents need to be issued qualifying offers.

Then Monday, it’s the opening of NHL free agency.

Next Tuesday, development camp starts.

Sharks GM Mike Grier set us up for all that Monday in an extended media availability.

Grier spoke on the Barclay Goodrow situation, what the Sharks are looking for to improve the roster this week and next, the fate of some of their free agents, gave a Logan Couture update, and was coy about what the Sharks plan to do with the No. 14 overall pick on Friday.

Here are the takeaways from Grier's comments:

Mike Grier: “I don’t think we’re at that point in time where we’re ready to [offer maximum UFA contracts or trade a lot of assets for a star veteran player]. I think we’ll still be interested in some players and free agency, but we’ll probably be in the one- to four-year range if we do get into some term … That would be the plan, more shorter-term stuff.”

Takeaway: Unless he has a big surprise up his sleeve, it doesn’t look like Grier is ready yet to push his chips into the middle of the table this summer, around incoming future stars Macklin Celebrini and Will Smith. That’s perfectly sensible, let’s see what Celebrini and Smith show first in their NHL debut campaign, before seriously arming your future Death Star.

Grier: “From day one, I said I’d like to get the group to be hard to play against and in your face. Goody and Ty bring that style, something we needed more of. We didn’t have enough of it last year.

“We do need some scoring on the wings, most likely, and maybe some center help to take some pressure off of Granny and Will and stuff like that. We want to be flexible — I think we’re in a good spot where some of our centers have the capability to play wing and move up and down the line-up. A little bit of scoring and some compete as well.

“If possible, we’d like to add a puck mover back there to help us get out of our end a little cleaner, help on the power play. There’s too many times last year where we had to go with the five-forward look. Hopefully, we can add someone who can move the puck a little bit cleaner and run a power play.”

Takeaway: The Sharks need help everywhere, but acquiring high-compete workaholics like Barclay Goodrow and Ty Dellandrea first were a statement. Next up, they’ll need some scoring and defending.

Grier also laid out where the Sharks are with a number of their free agents.

RFAs Luke Kunin and Filip Zadina are “in the mix” to come back.

Kunin fits with the high-compete, hard to play against mentality that the Sharks didn’t have enough of last year. Zadina showed promise last year, though I wonder if he’s ultimately squeezed out by July 1 free agency.

RFA Ty Emberson will be qualified.

Emberson, 23, was a solid, promising waiver claim last fall, the type of defenseman that San Jose needs more of, if he can take the next step in his development.

Meanwhile, UFAs Justin Bailey, Jacob MacDonald and Devin Cooley are good depth pieces, but it sounds like they’ll need to wait until July 1 to see if they can get a better offers out there. Reading between the lines, would guess that the Sharks aren’t offering one-way contracts to them. Anyway, this is in line with what San Jose Hockey Now reported about Bailey and Ryan Carpenter at the NHL Scouting Combine. There’s interest from the Sharks, but let’s see what offers they get on July 1.

Grier also confirmed that the Sharks aren’t qualifying RFA Calen Addison.

On Addison, the Sharks sorely need to improve their defense. While the blueliner does bring an element of puck-moving also sorely missing on the Sharks, there wasn’t enough defense (or frankly, puck-moving) to make his job safe. 

Grier: “At the end of the day, I think there's some excitement [from Barclay Goodrow] to come back here and be around the group. He’s still friends with Logan and Jumbo and some of the other people in the office. I think the fans love him here, and I think he knows that.

“As far as role goes, he’s got the winning pedigree. He came up the hard way here, worked his way up with not being drafted. The character, the compete, and doing the right things on and off the ice are very important for us to add to our group and have around our younger players. The value that he has is priceless, really.

“I tried to lay out to his agent what the plan was, what we were looking to do here and how important he was to what we’re trying to accomplish and what we’re trying to build.”

Takeaway: Grier didn’t dispute the substance of reports this week that the Sharks were on Goodrow’s 15-team no-trade list. However, no surprise, he expects Goodrow, good pro that he is, to be ready and engaged for training camp.

Personal opinion, Goodrow will get over this. The Sharks are paying him a lot of respect by taking on his full salary and charging him, in part, to lead the future of the franchise. However, if Goodrow struggles to acclimate to this tough competitive situation, Grier will open himself up to criticism.

Grier: “For the most part, it’ll probably be the best player available then when we’re at 14.

“It’s always hard to move up, but I think we'll explore both options. We’ll explore trying to move up if the price isn't too high. We're also open to trading back and getting more assets and if that makes sense too. We're kind of open-minded at 14.”

Takeaway: Grier, ever the good GM, was coy about what the Sharks plan to do with the No. 14 pick. Forward? Defenseman? Trade up? Trade down? Buckle up for Friday!

Grier: “Hopefully, [players who need to be convinced to come to San Jose] can see what we’re trying to do.

“Building-wise, we have some good, young players here. It’s a really nice place to live, we have a great fanbase.

“I think it’s just selling people and letting them know that it’s not as far away as it probably looked at certain points in this season. During the season, when you watch us play and look at our record, you might think it’s miles away from being a competitive team, but I think we have some good, young players on the way. I think that’s exciting for veterans to be around.

“The players who are here, whether it’s Cooch or Granny and guys like that, I think they’re good vets as well. There’s definitely some intrigue to playing here and trying to get the organization back to where it was for so long and back to winning. It’s a great place to play in this market when you’re winning.

“I think that’s the challenge that is kind of intriguing to free agents.”

Takeaway: Goodrow had the Sharks on his no-trade list, while it was reported that Cam Atkinson — which Grier said wasn’t an accurate report — also had San Jose on his no-trade list. It’s nothing against the city of San Jose, likely, but more a reflection of the Sharks being out of the Stanley Cup playoffs for five seasons and counting.

It is interesting to hear what Grier’s pitch is to such players.

Grier: “I talked to Cooch last week. He’s working out hard. I think he feels pretty good and feels optimistic about everything. We’ll see how the rest of the summer goes, keep training, and he'll be back here in July sometime to start skating, and we’ll take it from there.”

Takeaway: Couture said in his exit interview that the plan was to start skating in July, and good news, it sounds like he’s on track. That said, it’s still a long way from that to actually being ready for training camp in September.  The Sharks appear to be being cautious with their captain, so there are no promises that he’ll be ready by then.

Grier: “If the public stuff isn't available, we'll still be okay.”

Takeaway: If there were any concern that the Sharks would be affected by the closure of public salary cap database CapFriendly, Grier swiftly dispelled that notion.

Grier: “Hasso is great. He's very in tune with our team and in our players and our fans. Like you said, he's retiring from SAP, and I think he'll probably be around a little bit more. He's excited about the young players we have and the potential No. 1 pick this year. I think it's really got him excited and looking forward to the future. I expect him to be a little bit more involved or engaged.

“At the same time, I'm fortunate enough that he supports the hockey ops and the organization and trusts us to do our job. We brief him on things and ask his opinion on things, but I think he trusts us to do our job and handle things the way we see best for the organization and the hockey team.”

Takeaway: This all jibes, by the way, with the Corey Masisak profile in San Jose Hockey Now earlier this year about Sharks owner Hasso Plattner being around the team more.

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