Another rough season for the San Jose Sharks came to an end last week, with the team missing the playoffs for a second year in a row. San Jose finished the season with a 21-28-7 record, which had them tied for second-last in the West Division.
The Sharks had trouble scoring this season, despite their top forwards staying healthy for the majority of the year. Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane both produced very well but Logan Couture and Timo Meier each saw their production decline. Kevin Labanc also failed to recover to his 2018-19 pace, instead scoring at a similar rate to last year.
The Sharks don’t have enough true top forwards anymore, though one positive was the development of young talent up front. Rudolfs Balcers, Ryan Donato and John Leonard all provided secondary scoring and did help to fill in a lack of middle-six talent from last year.
San Jose’s defense was once again a major issue, with the Sharks allowing the second-highest goals per game of any team in the league. Brent Burns and Mario Ferraro did what they could, taking on by far the toughest matchups of any defenders on the team. It’s probably not the ideal top pairing but they were the most effective defenders on the team.
I will say I was actually pretty impressed with Nikolai Knyzhov defensively as well. He was only 22 years old at the beginning of the season but actually adjusted quite well and while it’s difficult to predict his ceiling, it was a pretty good rookie season.
The rest of the Sharks’ defense group really wasn’t all that useful though. Marc-Edouard Vlasic continued a steady decline and didn’t add much, despite being played in a defensive role. Radim Simek was also nowhere near as effective as he should’ve been, considering he faced by far the lowest quality of competition of any defender on the team (according to Hockey Abstract).
Then there’s Erik Karlsson. While I thought he improved a bit as the year went on after a horrible start, it was still a very disappointing year for him and rather than bouncing back, he regressed even further. He really struggled defensively and offensively, he took a major step backwards.
Moving on to the goaltending situation, while most goalies will struggle behind a poor defense group, this was particularly the case for the Sharks once again. Martin Jones posted an .896 save percentage for the third season in a row – but hey, I guess at least he’s consistent in one aspect.
That said, rookie Josef Korenar got a chance after Devan Dubnyk was traded and he was a pleasant surprise. Korenar did manage just an .899 save percentage but considering he's just 23 years old, it’s somewhat of a promising sign.
In terms of management, the Sharks didn't make any major moves at the deadline, failing to acquire any future assets of value. Alexander Barabanov was a nice addition, though we’ll need to see him over a larger sample size. Regardless, the Sharks generally remain stuck in the same spot where they aren’t good enough to compete but really aren’t doing much about it.
Unfortunately, unless changes are made in the offseason, we can probably expect a similar fate for this team next season.
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What direction do you expect the Sharks to take in the offseason?