The San Jose Sharks have made a change at the top of their business division, naming Jonathan Becher sole president of Sharks Sports & Entertainment and alternate governor. John Tortora who had served as a co-president will be leaving the organization. While this move will likely have financial impact on the club, the interesting part of the announcement for hockey fans comes directly from owner Hasso Plattner:
While we are all very disappointed in the team’s performance thus far this season, Doug [Wilson] has a long history of leading our team to success. The last time we failed to meet our winning standards in the 2014-15 season, we were able to quickly rebound and re-establish a winning culture for the next several years. I am supportive of Doug’s plan to get our team back on track.
That vote of confidence comes as the Sharks languish near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, ahead of only the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. The team has huge financial commitments to aging players and no first-round pick this season, putting tons of pressure on the front office to figure out a way to turn things around.
Part of that turnaround plan according to Craig Custance of The Athletic is expected to be trading Melker Karlsson, Brenden Dillon and Tim Heed before this year’s trade deadline. All three players are scheduled for unrestricted free agency, along with Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Stefan Noesen, Radim Simek and Aaron Dell. While some of those names may hold little or no trade value, the three Custance references should at least be able to bring back some sort of asset for Wilson to work with.
Still, with nearly $48MM of cap space dedicated annually to Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Martin Jones through at least 2023-24 (all of whom will be at least 29 years old at the start of next season), the Sharks are in danger of being overrun with albatross contracts that cripple Wilson’s ability to do anything.