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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks lose to Los Angeles Kings

SAN JOSE – Tomas Hertl William Eklund hasn’t been shy about saying he wants to be on the San Jose Sharks’ roster for the regular season opener, now less than two weeks away.

Eklund made a case for himself Saturday night, maybe his best of training camp so far, as he got a chance to kill penalties and be on the power play in what became a 2-1 overtime preseason loss to the Los Angeles Kings at SAP Center.

Tomas Hertl

Ekiund had 13:13 of ice time through two periods, third-most among the forward group, and finished with four shots on net. He moved well throughout the night and was perhaps more noticeable than he had been in his one prior exhibition game.

“He’s done some good things at camp for sure,” Sharks coach David Quinn said of Eklund before Saturday’s game. “I thought (Friday’s) practice was a good practice for him. … So just continue to improve and play with that pace and tenacity he’s played with, which complements his skill. That’s why I’m so high on him because of the pace and his competitiveness.

“He’s playing with the right intentions and you’ve got that skill set to compliment it, you five yourself a chance day in and day out in this league.”

The Sharks might announce more training camp roster cuts before they reconvene for their next practice on Monday. Eklund wouldn’t appear to be in much danger of getting sent down to the AHL right now, but there are not many games and practices left to show he deserves an NHL job.

The Sharks play again on Tuesday and Thursday in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, respectively, in their final two preseason games. All NHL teams have to get down to a 23-man roster by Oct. 9.

Right now, the math might not work in the favor of Eklund, San Jose’s first-round draft choice in 2021.

The Sharks already have 14 forwards who require waivers, including the more experienced Jacob Peterson, who had eight points in 11 games for the Sharks last season after he was acquired from the Dallas Stars.

Eklund, who turns 21 on Oct. 12, the date of the Sharks’ regular-season opener against the Vegas Golden Knights, does not require waivers to be sent to the AHL. He needs to outplay other Sharks’ forwards to earn an NHL roster spot right away.

CHRONA’S NIGHT: Quinn said Saturday morning that he’s been impressed with Chrona in training camp practices thus far, and that seemed to carry over into the first period. Chrona, in his first preseason start for the Sharks, made 10 saves in the first 20 minutes, including two nifty glove saves as the Kings had the majority of the zone time.

The only blemish in regulation time was a Kings goal at the 9:57 mark of the third period, as Alex Laferriere redirected a shot from Jacob Moverare past Chrona for a 1-0 Los Angeles lead. Tomas Hertl later tied the game at the 17:13 mark of the third, with Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Mario Ferraro collecting the assists.

Winger Samuel Fagemo scored on a power play with 38.7 seconds left to give the Kings the win.

Chrona finished with 25 saves.

Chrona, 23, was signed to a two-year contract by the Sharks in April after a solid four-year career at the University of Denver last season. He’s tabbed to start the season with the Barracuda and depending on how the season goes, could even find himself as the AHL team’s No. 1 before long. Eetu Makiniemi will also be in that mix, with Georgi Romanov perhaps being more of a project.

“Very calm, big, just have really been impressed with him,” Quinn said of Chrona. “We feel good about our goaltending in general. … It’s nice to have competition in that position.”

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