The San Jose Sharks season officially has ended after a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues in game six of the Western Conference Finals.
San Jose played without captain Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl and Erik Karlsson due to injury. With another disappointing end to the season it seems that changes are necessary if the franchise does want to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
For general manager Doug Wilson, acquiring Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators meant the Sharks got another offensive minded defenseman. Unfortunately injuries played a role in likely his only season with the franchise.
He played in 53 games and finishes with 45 points. Three goals and 42 assists. With a plus minus rating of six. He did return from injury during the playoffs and at times played well while other times he struggled. He did match fellow defenseman Brent Burns with 16 points.
In the regular season the Sharks got balanced scoring. There were nine players who scored 15 or more goals and four with over 30. Pavelski led the way with 38 followed by Hertl with 35 and Evander Kane and Timo Meier each scored 30. That scoring didn’t translate as well in the playoffs and from games four through six against the Blues, San Jose managed two goals in their last seven periods of play.
Throughout the playoffs San Jose failed to capitalize on their home ice advantage. Losing game two the Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche and the Blues. Yet, in the last two series were able to bounce back and win game three on the road.
Still the biggest disappointment for the Sharks during the playoffs belongs to two of their leading scorers in the regular season. Evander Kane wound up with only two goals and recorded six assists. Burns finished with 16 points and picked up only one point in the last five games against the Blues.
Logan Couture led San Jose in playoff scoring with 20 points (14 goals and six assists). Hertl was the only other Shark to get to double figures in goal scoring with 10. Still he only had one in the series against the Blues.
At the trade deadline the Sharks did not make a move to acquire a goalie. Rumors about acquiring Ryan Miller were swirling and no move got made. Martin Jones struggled mightily against the Golden Knights and it seemed that head coach Pete DeBoer needed to make a change and go to Aaron Dell.
DeBoer elected to keep starting Jones who played better as the series progressed making several key saves and allowing for San Jose to come back from a 3-1 deficit. He performed better against the Avalanche and struggled against the Blues.
What this means for the Sharks is that there are changes that need to get made. The first move is to fire Wilson. It seems with him as general manage the Sharks are not able to get over that hump. No matter what moves get made a Stanley Cup hasn’t happened.
Other moves to get done are to trade Burns and Kane. Let Jones, Dell, Pavelski, Thornton, Karlsson, Brenden Dillon, Justin Braun and Michael Haley go. Keep Couture, Hertl, Meier, Kevin Labanc, Gustav Nyquist, Joonas Donskoi and Marc Edouard-Vlasic.
The Sharks will need to look at free agency to fill their needs.
Options in goal include: Sergei Bobrovsky or Robin Lehner. On the defensive side Tyler Myers, Jake Gardiner or Anton Stralman. Offensively, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, or Kevin Hayes are viable options.
Still the no.1 target for the Sharks this off-season is Artemi Panarin who scored 28 goals and record 59 assists for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
If the Sharks are going to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals changes are necessary even if it means saying goodbye to fan favorites and their leading scorer.