LetsGoSharks.com - Inside San Jose Sharks Hockey
Support this community by becoming a Sponsor
2023-24 Shark Predictions
Hurry up and wait for more of the same in San Jose
10/11/2023 - By Mike Lee

It's year two for both Mike Grier and David Quinn, but things are sizing up to look a lot like last season. Grier is still handcuffed by the slew of bad contracts he inherited when he took over the Sharks GM role in the summer of 2022 and he's spent the last 15 months trying to create an opportunity to actually start rebuilding the franchise. Not an easy task. From an outside perspective it may look as if he's done little in terms of adding the pieces the Sharks need to be competitive, but the mess that he's trying to clean up is a multi-year endeavor which is more than quick fix. The downside is, San Jose won't be making much of a splash in 2023-24.

It's too easy to simply say the Sharks are going to be bad, so rather than simply dumping more criticism on the dumpster fire that is San Jose, why not simply try to predict what we'll see this season.

Youth Movement & Growing Pains

It's no secret that the Sharks have a handful of young talent that is trying to develop and make their way in the NHL. This will be the season that they actually get their chance. The NHL is not a day care mind you, so there will be some growing pains. Look for the Sharks to move youngsters like William Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau and Henry Thrun up and down between the big club and their top affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda.

Movement between the NHL and AHL is not a condemnation or death sentence for a young player. Hopefully the Sharks are preparing these players for the reality that they will stumble along the way and a trip to the AHL can be a good thing. Confidence above all is the one thing the Sharks must nurture with their core group of youngsters.

Eklund just turned 21 and his upside is something the Sharks will need to protect at all costs. Bordeleau gave Sharks fans lots to be hopeful for with his performance in the preseason. Thrun used his collegiate experience to shore up his game and he's looking like a seasoned veteran on the ice.

All is good when it comes to what roles these young players can play in the Sharks rebuild, but fans need to be patient. They will struggle. They will make mistakes. San Jose will need to continue to nurture this group if they want to get full value out of them down the road.

Hertl's Last Stand

Shark fans had to endure the pain and suffering that goes along with the exodus of key players. The Timo Meier and Erik Karlsson trades are painful reminders that professional sports doesn't care about fan loyalties. Those were key pieces that San Jose had to exchange for rebuild capital that they can parlay at the right time.

Grier has the unfortunate task of trying to rebuild the franchise while also trying to retain some paying customers. Retaining centerpiece players helps address the latter, but at what cost. What's the point of retaining a high priced veteran if you really have little shot at being competitive in the near term.

That question really comes in to focus on a pair of Sharks mainstays. Captain Logan Couture and forward Tomas Hertl are two guys that command a pretty penny and have the name recognition for that bubble fan who may or may not choose to spend a few bucks on Shark tickets.

In Couture's case, he's publicly stated that he wants to remain a Shark for the duration of his career. The motivation to retain him is largely centered around his ability to lead the locker room and to teach the youngsters how to be professionals. Focusing back on the things the Sharks need to do to evolve their young players, someone needs to show them how to do it right. Couture is the best guy to do that.

Thrun can follow Marc-Edouard Vlassic's lead, but the reality there is that Vlasic is really in the sunset of his career and the Sharks will need to shed his debilitating contract at some point. Buying it out is really the only way that happens.

So what about Hertl. It all comes down to what kind of performance San Jose will get out of him. The Sharks are hoping he has a big season, because that will pump up his trade value. His contract has 6 more years on it at $8.13 million per. That accounts for more than 10% of the Sharks cap hit this season.

If Hertl can produce and market himself as a commodity, the Sharks will jump at moving his contract this season.

Don't Blame Mackenzie

Like last season, the Sharks biggest issue will be keeping the puck out of their own net. Grier didn't break the bank rounding out his blueline when he signed Kyle Burroughs, acquired Jan Rutta via trade and picked up Ty Emberson via a waiver claim.

The only thing Grier did to get better defensively was to send Karlsson to Pittsburgh. When you're improving by subtraction, it's going to be a long year.

New goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood will take the brunt of the blame for the Sharks impending defensive woes. It's unfair to expect any goaltender to stop pucks without a solid defense in front of him, Adin Hill is a perfect example of that.

The Sharks gave up on Hill because he couldn't keep pucks from slipping past him. He gets traded to Vegas and goes on to play a pivotal role in the Golden Knights run to a Stanley Cup Hill's struggles in San Jose were attributed to the fact that his defensive counterparts did little to help him.

Blackwood will suffer the same fate and will unfairly be the fall guy that fans will pile on.

It's not going to be good for his own development, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the post game media scrums. Will he have the maturity to answer the same burdensome questions night after night. The consummate professional James Reimer was great at it, and someone he survived.

Blackwood will need to take a page out of Reimer's playbook when it comes to explaining why the Sharks lost by 2, 3, or more goals each night.

Please Come Back

The Sharks marketing department (or overpaid consultants) are trying to motivate customers to buy tickets with their "It's Time to Return to the Tank" pitch. It's a cringe worthy message that calls out the fact that fans aren't there to begin with.

The Sharks were second to last in average attendance last season. One can argue that the only reason they weren't last is because the team that holds that distinction, the Arizona Coyotes, played at Arizona State University's facility which only holds 4,600 spectators.

That's not likely to change if the markers are openly begging fans to come back in their campaigns. The dollars spent on that messaging would have been better served in providing every fan with an emotional support dog at the gate this season.

The prediction here is that the Sharks will dump that campaign as soon as possible and shift their marketing dollars toward putting missing fan ads on milk cartons.

It's going to be a long season, but there is the hope that Grier has shown signs that he knows what he's doing. This is still a multi-year endeavor and Grier is only a year into the project. They would be best served to focus on developing their young core, refraining from overpaying any more veterans and add pieces through the draft.

Until then, the predictions will be painful.


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.