SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - The San Jose Sharks wasted little time adding some needed speed to a roster that sometimes looked a step slow in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Sharks opened free agency on Friday by signing fleet winger Mikkel Boedker to a four-year deal worth a reported $16 million and puck-moving defenseman David Schlemko to a four-year contract worth a reported $8.4 million.
“We know where the game is going. We want to be ahead of the curve,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “Mikkel was obviously a high first-round pick for a reason. His skill level and talent and speed are off the charts. David just moves the puck quickly, great poise with the puck. It fits in with the things we want to do.”
After rolling through the Western Conference to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in team history, the Sharks were outclassed by Pittsburgh’s decided edge in speed and fell in six games to the Penguins.
The Sharks hope adding Boedker to an already talented group of forwards that includes players like Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture will give San Jose the matchup advantages that helped Pittsburgh so much when they were able to use Phil Kessel on a third line.
“I play fast and hopefully I can get some good chemistry with the guys that are there now and use my skill and help them out the best I can,” he said. “Hopefully they can help me out the best they can and we can find a good partnership in the group. The biggest thing for me is using my speed and that’s something that can maybe be a valuable key for our offense.”
The 26-year-old Boedker tied a career-high with 51 points last season, posting 17 goals and 34 assists with Arizona and Colorado.
Boedker said he had offers for longer contracts and for more money but was attracted to San Jose because the team is a Cup contender and because of his relationship with coach Peter DeBoer.
Boedker played his junior hockey at Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League during the 2007-08 season under DeBoer and Sharks assistant Steve Spott. He helped the Rangers win the OHL Championship and became the eighth pick in the 2008 draft by Arizona.
“He’s one of those players you coach over your career where he makes an impression both as a player and as a person,” DeBoer said. “I understand what he can do. He has some untapped upside that we haven’t seen yet. I’m really excited to get him and get to work with him again.”
The 29-year-old Schlemko posted career highs with six goals and 13 assists in 67 games for New Jersey last season. He also played more than 18 minutes a game.
Schlemko will likely slot in alongside Brenden Dillon on the third pair but his ability to play both sides gives San Jose the versatility to play with Dylan DeMelo or move up to one of the top two pairs if needed.
“That was a big thing for them,” Schlemko said. “I can be a versatile player, move up and down the lineup and play against anybody and play in any situation. That’s how I feel about myself as a player and was glad that they saw that. I’m kind of lucky that a Stanley Cup contender wanted me.”
Schlemko has 15 goals and 54 assists in 298 career games with Arizona, Dallas, Calgary and New Jersey. But he has only made the playoffs three times in eight seasons and wanted to join a contender on a long-term deal when he hit free agency.
The Sharks also made two other smaller moves, bringing back minor league goalie Aaron Dell on a two-year contract to compete to be Martin Jones’ backup on the big club and forward Micheal Haley to a one-year contract.
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