Are the San Jose Sharks done for the summer? In a mailbag for The Athletic, Kevin Kurz addresses the concerns of some fans that the team has not done enough this off-season after missing out on John Tavares. Kurz states that GM Doug Wilson still has the full faith and support of ownership – as he should seeing that the Sharks have the highest average finish in the league during his tenure – and reiterates that Wilson always says that the roster isn’t complete until the trade deadline. Given that San Jose hit a home run with the Evander Kane trade this past spring and fueled their Stanley Cup run in 2016 by adding James Reimer, Nick Spaling, and Roman Polak, that mantra has been proven true. However, is waiting until March going to cut it this season? Kurz points out that between Tavares, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Max Pacioretty, it seems that the Sharks wanted to do more this summer. Pacioretty is still one of several potential trade targets prior to the beginning of the season, but it seems more likely that the Sharks will go into the season as is and let their play in the first few months of the season dictate whether a big move is necessary or not. However, a slow start or a major injury could cause Wilson to reinvigorate his search for scoring depth.
- The New York Islanders have had a far worse summer than the Sharks and maybe any team in the league, but one of the franchise legends is still confident in the direction of the team. Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier sat down with NHL.com’s Dave McCarthy recently and spoke about the “bright future” of Mathew Barzal and the Islanders, despite the departure of John Tavares. “For him to… have the kind rookie season he had, he’s not disappointing anyone… I see wonderful things for Mathew in the future and for the Islanders”, Trottier stated. Between a legitimate rising star in Barzal and an impressive pipeline featuring the likes of Kieffer Bellows, Oliver Wahlstrom, Noah Dobson, Bode Wilde, and Robin Salo, Trottier is right that the future is bright, but the Isles will likely have to endure a few brutal years before they reach that point. Yet, Trottier also spoke to the credibility that new GM Lou Lamoriello and new coach Barry Trotz bring to the team and feels that with their leadership and the talent on the roster, the team can still succeed if others step up. This first season without Tavares will be telling as to how the team will fare in the coming years.
One recently retired NHLer is getting back into the game. The Blues have hired St. Louis native Joe Vitale as their new radio analyst for next season, writes Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Vitale announced his hiring live on the Blues’ radio affiliate, KMOX, saying:
“This is my city… I always wanted to be a Blue. I’m so passionate about this team, since I was born from the very get-go with my dad bringing me to games as a kid.”
Vitale played six seasons in the NHL, mostly with the Pittsburgh Penguins but wrapping up his career with the Arizona Coyotes after head injuries forced him into premature retirement. Now, he’s feeling positive about getting back into the game with his hometown team. Vitale was a high-energy player, a checking line regular and face-off specialist during his career, and will likely bring that same energy to the Blues broadcast.