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The Nation Notebook: Sharks falling, Oilers can clinch, and Tavares’ future

The Nation Network Notebook is a regular feature that rounds up interesting news, stories, and rumours from around the NHL that don’t quite deserve their own article. 

San Jose loses their stranglehold on the Pacific division lead. Michael Haley gets a hearing for his punch on Nashville’s Calle Jarnkrok. The Edmonton Oilers can clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2005-06. John Tavares might find a new home come June.

SHARKS LOSE SEVEN IN A ROW

Just recently, the Sharks held a nine point lead on first place in the Pacific division. After seven losses, all of San Jose, Anaheim, and Edmonton are within striking distance of first place with seven games remaining on the schedule. Calgary is only three points back of the pack, too, and they’ve shown they can go on a hot stretch.

The Sharks are in no danger of missing the playoffs. Los Angeles is well behind, and any chance they have would be at a Nashville or St. Louis collapse. The Sharks looked like the one team ahead of everyone else for the majority of the season, but have gone 4-9 since the trade deadline. Brent Burns only has 6 points during that time, and Martin Jones’ save percentage has fallen to .913 on the season. The Sharks will have to rebound quickly or risk losing home-ice advantage in the playoffs.

HALEY GETS A HEARING

Speaking of San Jose Sharks losing, Michael Haley loses it after Calle Jarnkrok makes a questionable hit along the boards. The hit wasn’t great, but it was a two-minute minor, and Jarnkrok isn’t a noted goon or anything. Haley, who was clearly unhappy with the hit, chases after Jarnkrok and enacts his own retribution.

This might be how some people wish to see the player’s ‘police’ themselves, but as the hearing shows, you can’t punch an unwilling combatant and Haley will likely get a few games to reinforce that.

THE OILERS CAN CLINCH?!

Edmonton Oilers fans, you can breathe now. The Decade of Despair is almost over. The Oilers can officially clinch a playoff spot with any sort of win against the Los Angeles kings Tuesday night. Edmonton conveniently plays the only team of any real threat to catch them next, and it’s still an extreme long shot at that. The Kings are nine points back of St. Louis for the last wild card spot, and sit 14 points back of Edmonton. They’re not catching them.

Edmonton will end a 10-year playoff drought, and will just miss setting a new record for the longest post-season absence. Connor McDavid can truly do anything.

WILL TAVARES SIGN?

This summer was already going to draw huge attention with the Las Vegas expansion draft, but a potential John Tavares trade could be earth-shattering. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculates about the New York Islanders’ captain and what the franchise might be forced to do if they cannot get him under a new contract by June.

It kind-of makes sense, too. Unlike Tampa Bay, the Islanders can’t afford to wait like Steve Yzerman did with his superstar center. If he’s not signing an extension by the time the draft rolls up, they have to move him. While Stamkos’ Lightning were (and should still be) a contender, Tavares’ Islanders aren’t in the same place. Tavares has only made the playoffs three times in his eight-year career, and they’re in real danger of missing out this year as well. Their arena situation is uncertain, their coach isn’t permanent, and who knows if Garth Snow will be in charge by the end of the season.

Still, Tavares might be loyal to the club who drafted him, but why limit yourself instead of exploring your options? If that’s the case, the Islanders will have to recoup as much assets possible, and deal with the hole he leaves afterwards. They just can’t go into the season with Tavares unsigned.