Despite benefitting from a historic offensive performance from number-one defenseman Erik Karlsson and strong production from Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl, the San Jose Sharks finished the 2022-23 season with the NHL’s fourth-worst record. Their 22-44-16 record in the first year of their David Quinn era put them in a prime position for next month’s draft lottery, but not exactly in a place to help their veteran players win a Stanley Cup. A significant factor contributing to the Sharks’ struggles this season was their goaltending, as neither of their regular netminders posted above an .890 save percentage.
Sharks fans, then, might be pleased to hear word from general manager Mike Grier, via The Athletic’s Corey Masisiak, that the team does not plan on bringing the same goalie tandem (James Reimer and Kaapo Kahkonen) into next season. Reimer, 35, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, while Kahkonen has another year left on his deal at a $2.75MM cap hit. Finding an experienced, capable partner for Kahkonen (.883 save percentage in 37 games) could be one of Grier’s top priorities for the summer.
Other Pacific Division notes:
- Another Shark whose status is uncertain heading into the summer is winger Kevin Labanc, who scored 15 goals and 33 points this season and is making $4.75MM against the cap next season. Bay Area News Group’s Curtis Pashelka relays comments from Grier on Labanc’s future, with Grier saying “I can’t say whether he’ll be here. We’ll see what happens in the summer and what presents itself.” Labanc’s production has declined sharply since his 56-point 2018-19 season, and it’s worth noting that the Sharks could save nearly $4MM against the cap by buying out Labanc this summer, at the cost of nearly $2MM against the cap in 2024-25.
- Vegas Golden Knights winger William Carrier was a surprise performer this season, flying past career highs to score 16 goals and 25 points in just 56 games. The 28-year-old has been with the Golden Knights since the franchise’s expansion draft and is under contract for $1.4MM through next season. He hasn’t played since a March 3rd contest against the New Jersey Devils, but thankfully for Vegas he could be nearing a return. Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy told the media, including The Athletic’s Jesse Granger, that Carrier could return during the first round against the Winnipeg Jets. That would be a significant addition to Vegas’ bottom six and would add some useful depth goal-scoring to an organization hoping to make another deep playoff run.