Jabber Jaws: Lindblom, Lorentz talk free agency, hopes for Sharks
Lorentz: “I’m going to come in here and give San Jose everything I’ve got.”
Upon free agency opening up on Wednesday, the San Jose Sharks dove headfirst into the search for new possible players to add to the organization. The team started off the morning with a bang by trading veteran defenseman Brent Burns and forward Lane Pederson to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for forward Steven Lorentz, goaltender Eetu Makiniemi and a conditional 2023 third-round pick. Later on in the day, the Sharks acquired forward Oskar Lindblom, after he was placed on waivers for the purposes of a buyout by the Philadelphia Flyers.
Following the acquisitions, both Lindblom and Lorentz sat down with the media to discuss coming to San Jose, what they’ll take away from their former teams and how they fit into the franchise general manager Mike Grier is building.
Here are the highlights of what they had to say:
On his decision to join the Sharks: I had a really good talk with them, it just felt good from the start. It felt right signing there, and I’m really happy to do so.
On other teams that were interested: I just talked to my agent and he told me about a couple of teams, but I couldn’t really say that I felt like going to one team over another. It felt pretty good to go to the Sharks. Like I said, I’m happy to be here, and I think we have something good going on here. A couple of young guys, a couple of old guys.
On being bought out by the Flyers: It felt weird. You know, you never want to be bought out by a team with one year left. After it happened, I started thinking it through and I realized it might be a good thing for me to get a fresh start. It’ll feel awesome to get a new start with the Sharks. My last two years, I haven’t been where I want to be, so I feel like it’s time to step it up now and get to the level I want to be.
On his game coming into San Jose: After my treatments and everything, my power and muscles haven’t been the same, and that’s two years ago. I feel like I’m getting back to the same level that I was. It’s been tough mentally, trying to grind and get through it all, but having a new start is good for me.
On how he fits Grier’s team: I want to be a guy who brings it every night for the team — I play both ways, try to play good defense and offense, so I feel like that’s what most teams want. Hopefully, I can bring my best game to the team and help them grow and improve.
On defining his game: I think [protecting the puck] is what you want to see from every player. It’s probably one of the better parts of my game, so I’d like to try to build on it and help the team protect the puck.
I think I mostly want to improve on being physical — getting faster, stronger. At the same time, you always want to work on your skating and your shot every day. It’s nothing new, you just try to get better every day, do the right things, and stay professional — it’s the only thing you can do.
On knowing any current players: Well, they have the Swede Erik Karlsson there, so I might talk to him and see what he says about the place.
On what he’ll take away from his time with the Flyers: I mean, there have been a lot of things — it’s always your first game, first goal, stuff like that. When I came back from cancer, that was a great night. I have a lot of memories and a lot of good friends on the team, the fans have been great to me. I can’t really say anything bad about Philly and I loved my time there. I just have to look forward to starting a new chapter in San Jose.
On joining the Sharks: I’m super excited. Obviously, the trade happening today was a little out of the blue for me — I wasn’t really expecting something like that to go down, but at the same time, it’s a new opportunity for me. I’ve only been part of Carolina’s organization, so I’m excited for a fresh start and I can’t wait to get down there. I know there’s a good core group of guys there right now, but I know there have been some frustrations coming into the organization with the new general manager. It seems like they’re going in a different direction, and I’m excited to be a part of it.
On his game coming into San Jose: I think I bring a lot of energy and tenacity. Playing in Carolina’s system where I learned to be an NHL player under Rod Brind’Amour, it was all about battle-level, intensity and compete. As long as you were doing those three things, it didn’t matter if you made mistakes, this or that. Mistakes happen in the game of hockey, that’s part of it. As long as you were working your butt off and you were going as hard as you could, things would fall into place. I think I do a good job of that night in and night out pretty consistently. I’m excited to come to a team with a good core group of guys and a good, young prospect pool who are ready to step in and play night in and night out. I can’t wait to contribute to that.
One thing I’d like to do is see my offensive side start to blossom a little bit more. In Carolina, I didn’t really produce as much as I’d like to on the score sheet, but at the same time, I’m just going to go out and play my game.
On Brind’Amour: Rod, he preached so much stuff — he was a coach where he would never ask you to do something that he never did in his career as a player. He never asked for you to do too much, he’d never make you really step out of your comfort zone too far, but he challenged you in all the right ways. He knew which buttons to press, and he knew how to get the best out of every single player. Maybe I was spoiled entering my NHL career from a coach like that, but he really taught me the discipline and value of each and every shift and what it means to be a full-time NHL player.
It’s just that battle and consistency. Every team in the league has talent, it’s just the want and the drive of players who know that if you want to win, you have to go do it and prove it. He just got the best out of his players. Sure, there can be off nights and injuries, this and that, but all the guys in our locker room wanted to run through a wall for him. If you’ve got all 20 guys pulling on the same rope in the same direction, you have a very good chance to win every night. That’s maybe what I want to bring with me, that culture. I haven’t really talked to a lot of guys on that team, I’m not super familiar with many, but I’m excited to join the organization and bring what I’ve learned so far in my short two years to the table.
On his part in the Burns trade: I grew up watching him play. He’s been part of the Sharks organization for such a long time and the stories go way back. I just want to warn you guys, I can’t grow as good of a beard like Brent Burns. But yeah, I almost grew up idolizing guys like that, and he’s obviously one heck of a player with a storied career. Those Sharks legends like Patty Marleau, Joe Thornton, I watched all of those guys play growing up. It always seemed like you’d turn on the later playoff rounds and the Sharks were there for a few good years — they had a really good group there. It hasn’t really even sunk in yet, being a part of a deal like that — I would have loved to be a teammate of his, but at the same time, I hope Burnzie does well in Raleigh, I think he’s going to like it a lot. There’s a great culture and a great group of guys there. It’s all pretty cool.
On what he’ll take away from his time with the Hurricanes: It’s so fresh that I haven’t even had time to sit back and reflect, but it’s been a part of me going back to the time I was drafted. I’ve been part of the organization since 2015. They gave me every opportunity to make the team — I was a late-round draft pick, and they told me a year after my draft year everything I needed to do without guaranteeing me anything. They guided me along the way, and there were so many great people who helped me, so I’m forever grateful for those guys and the work they put into making me into the NHL player and person I am today. It’s not just the things you learn on the ice, but off it as well — how to carry yourself as a professional since you’re looked up upon by the public and kids. You just learn how to handle every single day as a NHL player.
I’ll be forever grateful for my teammates, coaches — the list goes on and on. The Calder Cup we won in Chicago, a lot of those guys moved on to other organizations as well, so it’s kind of weird that I’m one of the last few guys who was part of those Calder Cup teams or those years where we had some good, young prospects in Carolina. I’m just really excited for the opportunity — I’ve said that a few times already, I’m going to keep saying it, it’s just so fresh in my mind. I’d like to think that I’m a pretty loyal guy, I’ve played for the same minor team, same junior team, and I’ve only been a part of one NHL team, so I’m going to come in here and give San Jose everything I’ve got. I’m just super, super excited to get things going.
*Lightly edited for clarity.