The San Jose Sharks have been the most consistent team in the Pacific Division since the lockout of 2004-05. They’ve missed the playoffs just once in that time span, and have seemingly always been a threat to take home the Stanley Cup. While they have yet to reach the top of the mountain, they always seem to be in the chase and that doesn’t look like it is going to change anytime soon.
The stars have changed: Patrick Marleau is in Toronto and Joe Thornton has battled major injury the last two years, but the results have remained. Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic form the new core of skaters, while Martin Jones has stabilized the crease in a major way since coming over in a trade in 2015.
The Sharks bowed out in the second round of the playoffs last spring, but they are poised to be a major player this summer and will no doubt be a contender once again in the spring of 2019.
The Sharks used the regular season as a bit of a feeling out process, trying to get Thornton back to speed and trying to find a replacement for Marleau. They eventually found that replacement in Evander Kane at the deadline, and were able to stabilize their fourth line with the addition of Eric Fehr just days prior. While Thornton suffered another major injury, the Sharks got hot down the stretch and once again clinch a top three spot in the division.
After a disappointing six game loss to Edmonton in the opening round in 2017, the Sharks drew Anaheim in the opening round this past spring. That matchup was far more favorable, as San Jose demolished the Ducks en route to an easy four game sweep. The Sharks fell in six games to Vegas in round two, but took a step forward this past season.
Once again, Brent Burns was one of the best defenders in the NHL. Even after a slow start, Burns still managed to register 67 points (12-55-67) in 82 games. He’s the best offensive player for the Sharks, and is a true number one defender in this league. He’s a unique weapon and gives the Sharks a look that few teams can match. Even at 32, he’s still playing at a high level and should be one of the leaders for this team again next season.
Joe Pavelski continues to be a consistent offensive producer and a legit top line option. He played in all 82 games this past season and registered 66 points (22-44-66) while pivoting the club’s most dynamic line. Pavelski is still going strong and showing no signs of slowing down yet, so Shark fans can expect another solid output from him in ’18-19.
Evander Kane was the biggest and, in my opinion, best addition by any team at the deadline. He played in 17 games for the Sharks and posted 14 points (9-5-14) and replaced Marleau quite nicely. Kane signed a long-term deal following the conclusion of the season, and is expected to play a major role moving forward for this team.
Pieces To Build With:
The Sharks have an established veteran core at both the forward and defense positions. Up front, the club has Pavelski, Couture, Kane, Hertl and Thornton. A young, secondary group, that includes Joonas Donskoi, Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier, and Chris Tierney is also a solid group to build around.
Defensively the club has Burn, Vlasic, Justin Braun and Brendan Dillon as a solid top-four group moving forward. Of course, Jones has the crease under wraps for the foreseeable future after signing a six-year extension that takes effect on July 1st.
San Jose will select 21st overall at the draft later this week. They’ve done a pretty solid job at the draft in recent years, and will likely be selecting the best player on their board regardless of position. Could the Sharks be the team that takes a chance on super talented D Ryan Merkley? Defenders Rasmus Sandin, Jett Woo and Calen Addison are also in the mix here, as are forwards Ty Dellandrea, Dominik Bokk and Akil Thomas.
The Sharks don’t necessarily need a top-six forward, but I think it would certainly help in their west to take over the west. I think they’ll be a player for both John Tavares and Ilya Kovalchuk in the next two weeks. Other than that, this San Jose team is pretty loaded and only needs minor tweaks to the roster. Adding a depth defender will probably be on the list of things to do as well.
The Ideal Off-Season:
- Buyout D Paul Martin
- Select D Rasmus Sandin 21st overall
- Sign F Ilya Kovalchuk to a three-years, $18 million deal ($6 million per season)
- Sign D Mark Fayne to a one-year, $750,000 deal
- Re-sign F’s Tomas Hertl, Chris Tierney, Eric Fehr and Joe Thornton
- Re-sign D Dylan DeMelo
Evander Kane – Joe Pavelski – Logan Couture
Ilya Kovalchuk – Joe Thornton – Tomas Hertl
Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi
Marcus Sorensen – Melker Karlsson – Kevin LaBanc
Eric Fehr, Barclay Goodrow
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Joakim Ryan – Brent Burns
Brendan Dillon – Dylan DeMelo