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The San Jose Sharks’ season came to an end about two weeks ago, with the Sharks missing the playoffs for a third year in a row.
It was a disappointing but still expected outcome. After briefly starting the season strong with four straight wins, things went downhill and the Sharks won just 28 games after that, finishing the year with a record of 32-37-13. They finished sixth in the Pacific Division and 12th in the Western Conference overall.
Up front, the story of the season was Timo Meier’s breakout campaign, with the winger scoring 35 goals and 76 points in 77 games. He couldn’t keep up the pace he had set partway through the season but regardless, Meier set career highs in both goals and points.
Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture produced as expected too, each managing a pace of around 60 points per 82 games. However, as expected, San Jose really relied on those three forwards for a good chunk of their offense, with Alexander Barabanov as the next-highest producing forward at just 39 points, and all other forwards scoring 26 points or less.
San Jose got some depth offense from the likes of Nick Bonino, Rudolfs Balcers, Jonathan Dahlen and Noah Gregor, but the reality is the Sharks are in need of multiple additional top forwards. Losing Evander Kane’s production didn’t help their situation offensively and San Jose could probably use two or even three more top-six forwards to actually build a dangerous offense. This year, the team finished 30th in the league in goals.
On the blue line, Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and Mario Ferraro were all counted on to take huge roles, with each player averaging at least 23 minutes per game, though injuries within the rest of the defense group, as well as to Karlsson and Ferraro themselves didn’t help. There was a bit of a rotating cast through the rest of the group, though Marc-Edouard Vlasic got into 75 games as his decline continued, with the veteran now averaging only just over 15 minutes per game.
The Sharks actually did end up getting pretty decent goaltending though. James Reimer cooled off a bit near the end of the year but still posted a .911 save percentage overall, while Adin Hill managed a .906 save percentage and newcomer Kaapo Kahkonen had a .916 save percentage in 11 games with the team after the trade deadline. Compare the team’s combined .908 save percentage from their netminders to last season’s .896 save percentage and it paints a different picture in goal.
Another highlight was the Sharks’ penalty kill, which ranked second in the league this season. It was another contributing factor to the Sharks averaging 3.18 goals against per game, compared to their 3.50 goals against per game last season (which had ranked second-highest in the league).
It was also exciting to see some younger players get a chance in the NHL, with the likes of Ryan Merkley and Scott Reedy suiting up for San Jose, along with Thomas Bordeleau at the end of the year. That said, the Sharks are still thin on quality young talent within the organization.
It’ll be an interesting offseason for the Sharks though, which we’ll talk a lot more about in the coming weeks. The team has yet to commit to a rebuild, though once a new general manager is brought in, we’ll see what the plan is. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Sharks were participating a bit in trade discussions surrounding Erik Karlsson and you have to imagine if that’s the case, they’d be open to moving Brent Burns as well.
Regardless, the Sharks aren’t in a position to compete right now, so we’ll see if any notable steps are taken this offseason to build for the future.
OTHER ARTICLES FROM MAY
Sharks drop final three games to end season
Sharks re-sign Alexander Barabanov and Jaycob Megna
Patrick Marleau retires, Sharks will select 11th overall in 2022 NHL Draft