The Sharks kickoff their 2021-22 NHL campaign
in a little more than a week and from the looks of it, that will be the start
of a very long season. San Jose did little to improve on a roster that that
lost 14 more games than they won the prior season. There was no marquee free
agent signing during the offseason. No blockbuster trade. Nada. Zilch. It has
all the makings of a repeat of the last two seasons. Any success will be lauded
as a great achievement. If the Sharks do what everyone expects, and mop up in
the Pacific Division basement, then they will have simply accomplished what
Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson added a couple of
journeymen free agents that are on the downside of their careers, in Nick
Bonino, Andrew Cogliano and James Reimer. All serviceable players, but not guys
that are going to make a mark in the playoffs, much less get you there.
The question is, is there no incentive to draw key free agents or is Wilson
sticking to his latest plan of building from within. The problem with the
latter is that he doesnt have the pieces to build from within. William
Eklund has impressed in training camp, but after that the cupboards are bare.
The Sharks farm system is regarded as one of the weakest in the league.
How do you flail in the standings for two full seasons and come away with
nothing in terms of prospects? Thats Wilson at his finest. He sold his
soul when he acquired Erik Karlsson. Gave away key draft picks and turned a
competitive lineup into a defensive liability.
With the addition of
Karlsson, the Sharks were supposed to score so often that it didnt matter
that they couldnt play defense. Except they didnt score. The
defensive liabilities have been gaping, and nothing really changed during the
offseason to address those issues.
So here we are.
eternal on opening day, then the reality of the situation will set in. Evander
Kane decided to go all in on the season of misery when his private life spilled
on to the front page. His situation is a mystery, but dont expect him to
contribute much if at all this season. If the domestic violence allegations
that have surfaced pan out, hes done in San Jose.
todays social climate, theres no room for that kind of headache,
although Wilson may be begging for a distraction once the casual paying fan
discovers that this Sharks lineup just isnt very good. Opposing offenses
are poised to run roughshod through the holes that the Sharks defense will
New goaltender Reimer and Adin Hill will be blamed, as all
Sharks goaltenders who fail to win inevitably are. They will be vilified for
not stopping pucks that no mortal has a chance to stop because the defensive
layers in front of them failed.
Reimer is a quality netminder. Hill has the makings
of one. Together, they will be lucky to keep their save percentages above .900
as Martin Jones and Devyn Dubnyk can painfully attest.
Cogliano are 33and 34 respectively, which doesnt bode well for offensive
players. Just ask Joe Pavelski. Except these guys arent Joe Pavelski.
Theyre both centerman playing on a team that used to expect their centers
to play defense first. Old legs are not well suited to do that, even if that
was still the Sharks game plan.
San Jose will lean on Logan Couture,
Timo Meier, and Tomas Hertl to produce. Thats two centers and a right
wing. After that, theres a steep drop off in the talent pool, which will
allow the opposition to key off a trio to keep the Sharks pinned down on the
scoreboard. Kevin Labanc, Dylan Gambrell and Matt Nieto simply dont have
the acumen to be an offensive threat in the NHL.
Brent Burns can go
into offensive mode, but as weve seen the past two seasons, the Sharks
expose themselves (and their poor netminders) when they allow Burns to push
towards the net. They dont have the defensive skill set in their centers
to cover up for Burns when the opposition is counter attacking.
be a whole lot of what weve seen the past two seasons. New coaching
addition (and former Shark) John McLean will attempt to address the power play
issues, but McLean isnt the answer to solve the Sharks defensive
Get ready for a very long season.