After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the 2014-2015 season, the San Jose Sharks have been back to the postseason under the management of new head coach Peter DeBoer. Keeping the core of the team (Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns and Joe Thornton), they look to lead the franchise to their very first Stanley Cup. After finishing third in the Pacific Division, they clinched the playoffs, only to lose 4-2 in the second round to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Going into the 2018-2019 regular season, alternate captain Joe Thornton was coming off of an ACL and MCL injury which he sustained with the team in January when he vowed to play at least one more season. Meanwhile, newcomer Evander Kane inked a seven-year, $49 million deal to stay with San Jose while other alternate captain Logan Couture signed an eight-year, $64 million deal to be a part of the team’s core in the future. With an extension coming up for captain Joe Pavelski and defensemen Brent Burns signed on for six more years, the team appears to be heading in the right direction both in the front office and on the ice as well. The one piece of the puzzle that’s missing, however, is the Stanley Cup Championship which remains a work in progress at this time.
In September, general manager Doug Wilson traded four players, a first-round pick in 2020, a second-round pick in 2019 and a conditional second-round pick in 2021 to the Ottawa Senators for former Norris Trophy recipient and Swedish defensemen Erik Karlsson. As a result of the deal, the Sharks’ Stanley Cup odds spiked up tremendously.
After a 6-3-3 record in October, San Jose struggled the following month, posting a 6-6-2 record in November. Bouncing back in December and January with only one home regulation loss, Doug Wilson decided to make a move ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline. Sending a conditional second in 2019 and conditional third in 2020, the Sharks acquired upcoming left-winger Gustav Nyquist as the exchange piece from the Detroit Red Wings.
Before he was shipped to San Jose, Nyquist played 62 games and recorded 49 points. Everything was going well for the Sharks going through the months of January and February until they began to struggle, running into a wall in the month of March.
After winning six straight in March, San Jose only picked up three points of a possible 18 entering the crucial final games of the regular season leading into the playoffs. While overcoming injuries, the team lost four straight games, picked up a point in an overtime loss, dropped another two, won a game and lost the next one to end the difficult month. With only three regular season games in April, they managed to win two of the three, finishing in second place in the Pacific Division. This would total for 101 points, just six shy of the first-place Calgary Flames.
The main issue that has been lingering towards the end of the regular season has been the inconsistency of goaltending. Starting goaltender Martin Jones has allowed a 2.94 GAA with a .896% save percentage while their backup, Aaron Dell, has a 3.17 GAA with a .886% save percentage. Fans have criticized Doug Wilson’s indecision to pursue a goaltender ahead of the trade deadline.
With the first round of the playoffs well underway across the league, the question at hand currently stands as will this be the year San Jose wins it all? If not, how drastic a change can the Sharks expect to see and will Doug Wilson and Peter DeBoer both have a job heading into next season? Will their big gambles in the offseason pay off? Only time will tell for the Sharks as they are still looking for their first Stanley Cup victory in franchise history.