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Pacific Preview: San Jose Sharks

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.

Last season

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.

This season

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.

  • Fan the Flames

    The Sharks have 9 great players then things thin out . Of those 9 six are north of 30 . I think this team will compete for first in the Pacific but age, travel and competition will keep them away from engraving the Stanley Cup.

    • Korcan

      I agree for the most part. It depends a bit on the ceiling of those young guys, but with their current roster I give them this year and maybe next before the window starts closing. And Nashville’s defense looks just as good (IMO) and their core is younger, Winnipeg’s window is just opening, Vegas and Dallas are looking good (and St.Louis?), and then there’s Calgary — if their goaltending doesn’t let them down. And these are they teams they must beat just to get out of the West. Not an easy task.

    • oilcanboyd

      They will be starting their rebuild late like the Flames, hanging on to Iginla, et al until it was too late, or the Canucks with the Sedins…

      Obviously they are all in to get a Stanley Cup win but I agree they will be a Playoff Fizzle again this season because of what FTF wrote.

      And why couldn’t San Jose flip Karlsson to Montreal….

      • Purple Hazze

        There’s a condition on the trade, if SJ deals Karlsson to an Eastern Conference team, they have to fork over an additional 1st round pick to the Sens, call it “the Hoffman clause”.

  • CalgaryBornandRaised

    It’s possible that the Sharks just run Burns or Karlsson out for the entire 3rd period of games (different pairings)

    Gonna be tough to deal with that if you are any team in the Pacific

    • withachance

      Hope they do that. Not trying to bash on them, because they’re offensive dynamos but those two are turnover machines. Opponent could get some quality chances off of them