Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

San Jose Sharks Facing a Lengthy Rebuild

san jose sharks rebuild

For the San Jose Sharks, heading into the concluding games of a second consecutive poor season, there is a single question that will pervade the organization. At this point, it is beyond clear this team needs to begin a rebuilding phase. This is not a ‘one player away’ scenario. Semantics, terms like resetting or reload, are not acceptable. If the team is being honest, it needs to come to grips with this simple understanding. The team is three years away from being competitive again as a San Jose Sharks rebuild looms. And once that becomes clear, the question becomes obvious.

The Essential San Jose Sharks Question

The essential San Jose Sharks question is prefaced with a simple statement: “We are going to do a multi-year rebuild. Followed by: “Do you want to be here?”

The owner, Hasso Plattner, needs to ask it of himself. Same with general manager Doug Wilson, assuming Plattner doesn’t decide for Wilson.

Likewise with the coaches.

And the players, both at the top end of the roster and among the newcomers.

I’ll guess at some of the answers.

Coaching Answers

For the coaches, I believe the answer is yes. None have enough of an NHL reputation as a coach and San Jose offers an opportunity to build one. They want to be here.

Veteran Answers

For several key veterans, the answer is more complex. In some cases, I expect it to be no. Three seasons out, many will realize the end of their careers is coming up fast. None have won a Stanley Cup. Going three more seasons without any real opportunity might prove more than a bit soul-destroying, especially following the experience of these two recent seasons.

A three-season rebuild is simply not appetizing. For players like Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Erik Karlsson, I can see both saying they want to go elsewhere rather than toil through multi-year a rebuild. This is important, as both have contracts with full no-movement clauses (NMC). It is doubtful either player generates much interest, but from their point of view, most of the league will look like an upgrade compared to the Sharks.

No matter how the answers come in, no doubt the team will attempt to accommodate these players. Some will hit the trade block, while others will be placed in the expansion draft, with one going to the Seattle Kraken. It would not surprise me if either Karlsson or Vlasic waived their NMC and made themselves expansion draft-eligible. After all, the last team to enter the league via an expansion draft (under the same rules), is tremendously successful.

Youth Answers

The essential San Jose Sharks question has a different feel for younger players. For most of these players, the answer is yes. A big-time yes. One needs to look no further than a pair of newcomers, Rudolfs Balcers and Alexander Barabanov. Both players were unable to break through on their prior team. Lack of opportunity played a role. The Sharks, with their weak forward depth, gave meaningful playing time to both. And they have both shown they belong in the NHL. It is unlikely either will be looking for a stint on a better team and risk being stuffed on a fourth line or used as a healthy scratch.

Both players have proven they deserve an opportunity, and San Jose is a place where they will get it. It is a good launching pad for the next phase of their careers.

For players like Dylan Gambrell and John Leonard, the answer is also yes. But are they good enough to warrant an NHL spot? 2021 was not a make or break year for either player, but the clock is running and next season will be critical for each. Yes, they want to be in a place they have a chance at meaningful ice time.

Executive Answers

The two I simply can’t begin to guess on are the owner and general manager. Both must live in the real world. For the first time in the tenure of both, the team needs to rebuild. The owner is 77 and lives in Germany. The general manager is 63 and has never won a Stanley Cup, despite over 3 decades of quality work as both an executive and a player. How excited is either about a rebuild? We’ll find out soon enough.

Bottom Line Question

Oddly, the same San Jose Sharks question works at every level in the organization. But this is where the organization is.

“Do you want to be here?”

There is one other group asking the same question. The fan base. Their answer will be important too.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images


More Posts

Send Us A Message