Sharks forward says Adin Hill's first start was 'a glimpse of how good he is’
SAN JOSE — New Sharks forward Lane Pederson feels it's OK for fans of the team to trust what they see when it comes to goaltender Adin Hill.
Demonstrating some of the traits that led general manager Doug Wilson this summer to send a second-round draft pick and goalie Josef Korenar to the Arizona Coyotes for his services, Hill stopped 21 of 23 shots to lead the Sharks to a 4-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on Sunday.
The performance was just about everything the Sharks hoped he would be in his first appearance in a teal uniform.
"I think what you guys saw last night," Pederson said Monday, "is a glimpse of how good a goalie he is."
Pederson, who was acquired by the Sharks on July 28 for a fourth-round pick in 2022, has known Hill since the mid-2010s when they competed against each other in the Western Hockey League. Pederson then became teammates with Hill in Arizona's system in 2017, and the two have been teammates every season since.
"(There's) a really quiet confidence to him, too," Pederson said of Hill. "He really believes in himself, and I think when you have a goaltender that does that, I think that instills confidence in the rest of the group."
Hill was beaten by Paul Cotter's wrist shot on a Golden Knights rush early in the second period, then gave up a power-play goal to Max Pacioretty just 34 seconds into the start of the third period.
But Hill was otherwise solid. Late in the second period, he stopped Mattias Janmark's breakaway shot, then mostly withstood a surge by the Golden Knights, who had seven of the first eight shots to start the third period.
The Sharks' preseason schedule continues Tuesday night with a game against the Los Angeles Kings at SAP Center. James Reimer is expected to start with Alexei Melnichuk possibly as the backup. Hill figures to get at least one or two more starts before regular season begins at home on Oct. 16 against the Winnipeg Jets.
"You can tell he's into the game. He's still a very likable guy, a guy that shows a lot of enthusiasm." Sharks coach Bob Boughner said of Hill. "It's a different feel with him back there right now, and he was our best player."
It became clear last year that the Sharks needed to go in another direction with their goaltending. Their team percentage has been among the league's worst the last three seasons, and the last two years, the Sharks simply couldn't outscore the miscues that were taking place in their own end.
Wilson began the overhaul with the acquisition of the 6-foot-6 Hill, who had played in 49 games for the Coyotes over the last four seasons. He was 9-9-1 last season with a.913 save percentage in 19 games as Darcy Kuemper served as Arizona's No. 1 goalie.
Just days after Hill was acquired, the Sharks bought out the final three years of Martin Jones' contract.
The Sharks hope that with Hill, just like with Jones six years ago, they've found someone who is on the cusp of being a No. 1 goalie. In 2015, the Sharks sent a first round draft pick and then-prospect Sean Kuraly to Boston for Jones, who then started 60 playoff games from 2016 to 2019.
"We've said a lot in the last few years that we 'might have needed that one back' or 'we give up that one that was a little bit light'," Boughner said. "But what I loved about (Hill's) game is not only that he made three or four big saves for us and kept the momentum at 3-1 for quite a while, but you can see the way he fights.
"He's aggressive coming out and playing pucks and stopping rims, helping our (defense) out on the breakouts. Little things like coming to the bench in between TV timeouts and being very vocal, and the guys appreciate that."