This is one part of a multi-part series profiling the 2018-19 Pacific Division.
The San Jose Sharks swung and missed on John Tavares, but they stuck to their guns and hit a home run just weeks before the beginning of the regular season. Adding Erik Karlsson to a blueline that already features Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic makes them the team to beat in the Pacific Division.
45-27- 10 – 100 points (3rd in Pacific)
252 goals for (12th in the NHL)
229 goals against (9th in NHL)
It was weird watching the Sharks without Patrick Marleau. The franchise’s all-time leader in games, goals, and points ended a 19-season tenure with the Sharks when he inked a three-year deal to join the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer. Still, despite the change in leadership, the Sharks kept chugging along.
Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture led the team offensively, as both players eclipsed the 60-point plateau; Burns and Vlasic were dynamic on both ends of the blueline; Martin Jones was stellar in net, and the Sharks got breakout performances from Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, and Chris Tierney. They also made a major trade deadline acquisition, grabbing Evander Kane from the Buffalo Sabres, giving them another major weapon in the top six.
All told, San Jose ended up third in the Pacific Division. They swept the Anaheim Ducks in the first round and then went on to lose to the Vegas Golden Knights Cinderella story. It was a successful season for a team that everybody had just expected would start to regress.
2 in 1 special. Erik Karlsson in San Jose's leaked third jersey. pic.twitter.com/rIkF9Zr0iV— S7 (@S7Dsn) September 13, 2018
Notable additions: Erik Karlsson, Antti Suomela.
Notable subtractions: Chris Tierney, Dylan DeMelo, Mikkel Boedker, Eric Fehr, Joel Ward, Paul Martin.
I didn’t want to get too far into detail about San Jose’s 2017-18 season because the real story here is about what they did in the offseason. The Sharks opened up cap room by dealing Mikkel Boedker to the Senators for Mike Hoffman who they quickly flipped to the Florida Panthers. Opening up the cap room gave them the ability to make a play at John Tavares, but he ultimately opted to go to his hometown Maple Leafs.
Still, rather than spending their savings money on a bunch of spare parts (I’m looking at what Uncle Lou did on the Island after Tavares left), Doug Wilson remained patient. Then, in mid-September, Wilson came out of nowhere and won the Erik Karlsson sweepstakes. It had been known for quite some time Karlsson had played his last game with the Senators, but Pierre Dorion had yet to find a deal for the team’s captain with the regular season just a few weeks away.
Wilson managed to strike a deal in which he sent Tierney, Dylan DeMelo, and some draft picks and prospects for arguably the best defenceman in the NHL. It was an absolute fleecing. Even if it ends up being just one year of Karlsson, this was a ridiculously good deal for the Sharks as all they had to give up was a middle six forward, a bottom pairing defenseman, and some futures. In return, they get to boast a blueline that features two former Norris Trophy winners and one of the best shutdown defencemen in the NHL.
Karlsson was the only major add the Sharks made this offseason (no offence to Finnish forward Antti Suomela) but it was a huge one.