LetsGoSharks.com - Inside San Jose Sharks Hockey
Support this community by becoming a Sponsor
Now is the winter of our discontent
The Sharks direction is clear as mud
3/5/2023 - By Ken Smyth

First words from Richard of Gloucester in Shakespeare's Richard III. Good play, its held up for a few hundred years, sort of like Darryl Sutter. And yes, the Trade of Timo Meier is complete and the tribe is grumbling. We expected a first round pick and top prospect or two. We got the pick, but the prospects look like spare parts. Is Mike Grier trying to build the NHL's version of the Oakland A's?

To begin with, hockey fans are always underwhelmed by deals like this. NHL teams market their top players as just below God or Wayne Gretzky, and the Sharks are no different. So it's always a shock that our star doesn't bring as much in a trade as we were led to expect. Like in 2003 when General Manager Dean Lombardi traded team captain Owen Nolan, who was more banged up than we knew, to the Maple Leafs, fans never forget and are slow to forgive bad trades.

Timo Meier will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season and is guaranteed a big pay raise wherever he plays next season. If I were his agent (Claude Lemieux), I'd tell him not to sign anything other than pucks and jerseys for the next three months. The departing Doug Wilson administration left the Sharks' cupboards pretty bare and stuck with some absurd contracts. There simply wasn't the money to keep Timo here; and if the Sharks did sign him to a qualifying offer, the clock on salary cap would be ticking louder and louder over the summer.

Look at Wilson's career and the one thing missing is a Stanley Cup championship, as either a player or executive. Playing amateur headshrinker, I look at Wilson's getting the Sharks to the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals as a teaser. In 2017, he rolled the dice on Evander Kane. He swung and missed for John Tavares (who signed with the Maple Leafs) in 2018, but turned and got Erik Karlsson. But Kane's self destructive streak again took hold and Karlsson was seriously banged up and only this season is showing his full talents. Goaltender Martin Jones was given a long contract and lost whatever whatever that makes first string goaltenders tick.

Going for broke had consequences. The Sharks gave up Justin Braun, Barclay Goodrow, Brenden Dillon, and Joe Pavelski to keep under the salary cap with Kane and Karlsson's contracts. Things didn't work, Fast forward to 2023, and the defense on a normal night is Karlsson, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Mario Ferraro and three assorted guys who on a decent team would likely be in the AHL or press box. Even Ferraro, who is promoted as a team leader, looks a bit small and slow against top NHL forwards.

Timo and Eric Karlsson were effectively the offense as Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture are showing average seasons, and of the new players brought in over the off season, only Nico Sturm stands out as having a career best season, which will probably be around 30-35 points. Kevin Labanc has trouble staying in the lineup under Coach David Quinn.

So Mike Grier took over a team last July that was like a fixer-upper house with a bad foundation, leaky roof, and two partially stripped Ford Tauruses in the driveway. (Yes, I know, that house goes for at least a million and a half in Los Gatos.) He was also tasked with not using that "rebuild" word in public: so that's not a cracked swimming pool filled with algae in the back yard, it's a wetland habitat.

The players moved in to patch things were "depth" guys, and except for Sturm haven't distinguished themselves as anything else. The two players (besides the third-round pick) brought in the Brent Burns trade are a penalty killer and a minor league goaltender. Whether intentionally or not, the Sharks are tanking this season.

The trades are bringing in some younger guys who will fill those roles next season. Maybe with more "upside potential", maybe not. I just watched the Sharks get run out of their own building by the Washington Capitals after blowing a 2-0 first period lead. The second game in a row losing ugly after blowing a lead. If anything, they are regressing back to twenty five guys who first met on the bus to training camp.

Next season's marketing will be trying to sell them as a young team with potential. It better start showing up. We can accept that the players coming back for Timo Meier are "big names" only if you consider their length if there is some improvement in the standings. And we are too used to San Jose Barracuda players coming up to the big club, having few good NHL games and then fading away.

Unlike the A's, the Sharks are not working on a move out of town, there needs to be some improvement after two horribly bad seasons. This isn't a town where people accept long team rebuilds. We Are All Teal, but we are not suckers.

The Sharks still have four long contracts (Hertl, Couture, Karlsson, and Vlasic) with trade protections on the books. Mike Grier's job will not be easy and he may be sacrificed to quell a fan revolt in a few years if things don't look better. Remember that by the end of the play King Richard III was willing to trade everything for a get-away horse.

Contact Ken at at kensmyth@letsgosharks.com


What did you think of this article? Post your comments on the Feeder Forums


Privacy Statement   |   Contact Us   |   Advertise
Copyright 1997-2022 LetsGoSharks.com. All rights reserved.
This website is an unofficial and independently operated source of news
and information not affiliated with the San Jose Sharks, any team, or league.