Sharks sign forwards Danil Yurtaikin, Joel Kellman
With few draft picks, the Sharks are working overtime on free agent signings.
The San Jose Sharks announced on Thursday afternoon they had signed forwards Danil Yurtaikin and Joel Kellman to standard, entry-level contracts.
The 21-year-old Yurtaikin comes to San Jose following his first full season with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). In 40 games played for Lokomotiv, he scored 10 goals and nine assists for a total of 19 points, ranking eighth overall on the team in points. He finished third in goal-scoring and fifth in overall points for KHL players under the age of 22.
Yurtaikin represented Russia internationally several times, most notably on the 2016-17 Russian World Junior Championship among names like Kirill Kaprizov, Mikhail Sergachev and Denis Gurianov. He scored one goal and four assists in that tournament.
“Danil is an explosive skater who uses his speed to create and sustain production in the offensive zone,” said Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson on Thursday. “He has a championship pedigree as a two-time MHL champion and experience with the Russian national team. We’re excited for him to join our organization.”
The 24-year-old Kellman, who will likely be expected to contribute almost immediately in the NHL, comes from Brynäs IF of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). He notched 34 points in 45 games for the SHL outfit, translating to roughly 40 NHL points over an 82 game season (for comparison, Melker Karlsson put up 25 points in 48 games with the SHL Skellefteå AIK).
“Joel has consistently proven his skill and hockey IQ, as is evident in his continued improvement in juniors, Allsvenskan, and the Swedish Hockey League,” said Wilson. “He has proven himself at each level, including over 200 games before the age of 24 at Sweden’s highest level, which is an accomplishment on its own. His intelligence and responsibility on the ice are going to be a huge asset to our organization and we look forward to his joining us.”
It’s not unlikely to expect decent offensive output and immediate NHL production from Kellman, which would come as welcome relief to an organization strapped for cap space and facing the impending departures of at least one of Joonas Donskoi, Erik Karlsson or Joe Pavelski in free agency this summer.
With Kellman and Yurtaikin joining Lukas Radil and Antti Suomela as recent undrafted free-agent signings, San Jose appears to be restocking and replenishing its farm system and depth lines at a time when the organization badly needs it, given their lack of draft picks over the next few years.