With the trade deadline fast approaching, we will be taking a closer look at the situation for each team over the coming weeks. Where do they stand, what do they need to do, and what assets do they have to fill those needs? As we begin to examine the Pacific Division, here is a look at the San Jose Sharks.
The moment that the San Jose Sharks traded for star defenseman Erik Karlsson, many people felt that the Sharks would be at the top of the Pacific Division. While no one was expecting the Calgary Flames to be so dominant, the Sharks are solidly in second place and with their impressive play of late, it wouldn’t be a shock if San Jose found their way back during the team’s stretch run. The Sharks have been rolling, having won 10 of 14 games and three of those games were a streak when they were forced to play without Karlsson.
With a number of veteran players trying to hold on for another deep playoff run, including Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Sharks picked up another significant piece to their plans to win this season. The team went out a year ago at the trade deadline and picked up Evander Kane from Buffalo, eventually locking him up long-term and they followed that up by adding Karlsson during the offseason. Throw in the fact that Thornton hasn’t been 100 percent this season and isn’t the same player due to his knee injury and the need for more depth is obvious. No one would be surprised if general manager Doug Wilson tries to pry another major piece.
29-16-7, second in the Pacific Division
Deadline Cap Space
$6.76MM in full-season cap hit, 0/3 used salary cap retention slots, 45/50 contracts per CapFriendly
Upcoming Draft Picks
2019: FLA 2nd, SJS 3rd, SJS 5th, SJS 6th, SJS 7th
2020: SJS 2nd, SJS 3rd, SJS 4th, SJS 5th, OTT 5th
This is where the Sharks might have some problems. The team has already moved its first-round picks in 2019 and in 2020 as they moved their 2019 pick to Buffalo for Kane and then their 2020 first-rounder for Karlsson (pending multiple conditions that are likely to hold). The team has already unloaded several key young players and prospects in separate deals, including Chris Tierney, Rudolfs Balcers, Danny O’Regan, and Josh Norris. It’s been made clear that the Sharks aren’t interested in moving too many more prospects, leaving the team bare of incoming prospects, but regardless, time is running out for a number of their veterans and with the dominance of several teams, the Sharks will want to keep up with them.
Regardless, the team may have few choices. One player the team could consider moving out would be forward Kevin Labanc, who has five goals and 30 points this season, but hasn’t been able to break into the team’s top six. The 23-year-old still has plenty of promise and might be able to being in a significant return for a player who tallied two 100-point seasons in the OHL. The team also could dip into their prospect pool that has a number of talented players, including 21-year-old goalie Josef Korenar, who appeared in the AHL All-Star game this year, AHL forwards Dylan Gambrell and Francis Perron, as well as highly-touted offensive defenseman Ryan Merkley, and junior forwards Sasha Chmelevski and Ivan Chekhovich.
1) More forward depth: The team has a solid top-six, but the third line has been average at best and hardly the scoring line the team was hoping for at the beginning of the year. With Thornton ailing, the team could use a sniper, potentially who has some experience manning the center position to improve the bottom-six. Thornton has just 10 goals and 25 points in 43 games this season and looks like he’s heading for his most disappointing season so far. While Marcus Sorensen has shown improvement, the forward has just 17 points this season, while Labanc still hasn’t full proven himself to head coach Peter DeBoer. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Sharks went to the Ottawa well again, having already worked out deals to take Mike Hoffman and Karlsson from the Senators. A rental like Matt Duchene or winger like Mark Stone would force the team to adjust their lines and put some quality offense on their third line.
2) Defensive depth: With an injury, as well as poor play, coming from Marc-Edouard Vlasic, the team may want to bring in a veteran defenseman who could provide the team with some strength behind the blueline. The team has gotten surprisingly good play from defenseman Radim Simek, who the team signed out of the Czech Republic last summer. However, the team needs more help there and don’t have too much help at that position down in the AHL.