Analysis: Sharks GM Wilson has made the right moves, so far

Analysis: Sharks GM Wilson has made the right moves, so far

SAN JOSE – It’s been a whirlwind few days around the Sharks organization. To quickly recap for those that have been sunbathing, scarfing down hot dogs or sparking up fireworks: Joe Thornton is back for another year, Patrick Marleau is off to Toronto, and crucial pieces Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are locked up long term.

For the 15th straight summer Doug Wilson is overseeing the transition from one year to the next. And so far, he’s looking pretty good.

Marleau’s departure, of course, is the most emotional moment for the fan base since the 2016 Stanley Cup Final – maybe even more so. I get the impression many Sharks supporters would have preferred to keep him around at any cost. Detractors will point to the team’s inability to win a Stanley Cup in the 19 seasons has was on the roster, and his frustrating nature of going extended stretches without having an impact, but my sense is that they are in the minority.

But Wilson offering him anything close to the three-year, $18.75 million contract that Marleau got in Toronto would have been nonsensical. Frankly, the two-year, $10 million offer that was reportedly on the table for Marleau might have been too much for a team that has $52.5 million tied up in contracts for just 11 players in 2018-19 (and Thornton a pending free agent again). 

Wilson may have only tacked on that second year in his attempt to placate Thornton, who was desperately trying to keep Marleau in the dressing room. Frankly, it’s fair to wonder if the organization is a bit relieved that Marleau didn’t take that final two-year offer.

Offering Marleau a third year in 2019-20 at the age of 40 was a deal breaker for Wilson for good reason. Not only will the Sharks have Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Martin Jones making big money, but Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski are both due to be unrestricted. If Tomas Hertl develops into the player the organization still hopes he’ll become, he could be making a pretty penny by then. Mikkel Boedker will potentially still be on the books. Prospects like Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc will have expiring entry-level deals, and if they or others in the system become full time NHL’ers, they could be getting big raises, too.

Paying an old, declining winger $5 million or more that season was a risk that Wilson was rightfully not willing to take.

As for Thornton, we predicted here before the NHL draft that Wilson might be making a calculated risk, knowing that Thornton – who originally wanted a three-year deal – was too committed to the area to sign anywhere else. That seems to be how this played out. Thornton’s one-year, $8 million deal is an expensive one, but it still makes sense from a team perspective considering his importance on and off the ice. The Sharks have the cap space to give Thornton that kind of money, and they are also protecting themselves with the one-year term in case Thornton has any problems with his surgically repaired left knee.

And if Thornton comes back strong next season, Wilson now knows for certain that the future Hall of Famer doesn’t want to play anywhere else. Getting Thornton to agree to another one-year deal, if that’s what Wilson wants, shouldn’t be nearly as complicated next time with Marleau already gone.

Don’t overlook, either, how Wilson managed to painlessly extend Jones and Vlasic to contracts that are fair for both sides. Had those contract talks lingered into the season it would have been an unnecessary distraction.

That’s not to say that the general manager should now pack up his bags and go on a two-month vacation until training camp begins. The Sharks still have cap space to add another impact player, and I would argue they should be on the lookout for another forward, probably though a trade now that the free agent market has dried up. I would be surprised if they paid the kind of price that Colorado reportedly is seeking for Matt Duchene, but perhaps others like Vegas’ James Neal or Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk are possibilities.

So far, though, Wilson has made the right moves in what has already been an eventful offseason.

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in unreal 5-4 Game 7 overtime win over Vegas

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in unreal 5-4 Game 7 overtime win over Vegas

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks' Stanley Cup playoff series with the Vegas Golden Knights was full of drama, no doubt. But there was absolutely nothing more dramatic than how Team Teal stormed back from a three-goal, third-period deficit and kept their season alive.

The Pacific Division rivals' contentious first-round series finally came to an end Tuesday night, as Barclay Goodrow scored with 1:41 left in overtime to finish the Sharks' 5-4 win in the decisive Game 7.

Here are three takeaways from the historic game at SAP Center, which will host Game 1 of the second-round series against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night. Puck drop is TBD.

Power play finally makes a huge impact

This was an area where San Jose had struggled throughout the series, and part of the reason it trailed three games to one. So when the Sharks received back-to-back opportunities early in the first period and didn’t find the back of the net, questions instantly began to arise as to whether those two missed chances would cost the Sharks in the end.

In the third period, though, the Sharks were given a five-minute power play after captain Joe Pavelski was taken out of the game by Vegas' Cody Eakins in a gruesome scene. It was exactly what the Sharks needed to get back into the game, no matter how late it was, as they scored four consecutive goals during the major penalty and briefly held a 4-3 lead.

Martin Jones write chapter in redemption story

OK, the tying goal the Sharks goalie gave up late in the third period wasn’t good at all. But you can't deny that for all the flack Jones received at the beginning of the season, boy, did he turn it around, making 34 saves in Game 7.

Jones continued his strong play from Games 5 and 6 into the last game of the series, and he easily was the Sharks' best player in the final two contests. The only thing missing was the team in front of him giving him some goal support for the majority of Game 7, which made things worse when he let in Vegas' third goal for a 3-0 deficit.

Things looked extra bleak because Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (43 saves) played a magnificent game through the majority of the evening. But that only made the Sharks' comeback even more amazing when they got four pucks past him in less than a period.

Logan Couture got angry, then got even

Yes, the whole Sharks team was upset when Pavelski had to be helped off the ice in the third period. But absolutely nobody channeled that anger into success quite like No. 39, as he scored two goals during San Jose’s massive third-period comeback.

The Sharks had many heroes during the seven-game series -- Jones turning things around late in the series, Tomas Hertl scoring the big overtime goal in Game 6, and so on. But when we look back on this series, Couture set up everything for Goodrow to have the opportunity to score in overtime.

Couture scored six games and added two assists for eight total points in the seven games against Vegas.

Watch Sharks-Golden Knights Game 7 end with Barclay Goodrow's OT goal

Watch Sharks-Golden Knights Game 7 end with Barclay Goodrow's OT goal

SAN JOSE -- After a third period that had just about anything a fan could ask for, Game 7 of the Sharks' first-round Stanley Cup playoffs series against the Vegas Golden Knights ended in fitting fashion: with sudden-death overtime.

Barclay Goodrow sealed the series for the Sharks with 1:41 remaining in overtime Tuesday night, giving San Jose a 5-4 win at SAP Center.

The game-winning goal followed what will go down as one of the craziest periods in the history of the NHL postseason. The Sharks trailed 3-0 when captain Joe Pavelski left the game after he was cross-checked by Knights forward Cody Eakin and collided with Knights forward Paul Stastny. Pavelski did not return for overtime, but his teammates nearly won the game for him.

The Sharks scored four goals on Eakin's five-minute major penalty, off the sticks of Logan Couture (twice), Tomas Hertl and Kevin Labanc. Labanc's goal gave San Jose a 4-3 lead with just over six minutes remaining in the third period.


Vegas applied pressure and pushed for an equalizer in the final 6:39 of regulation. San Jose killed off a Labanc penalty, but the Golden Knights tied the game with 47 seconds remaining in regulation and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury pulled for an extra attacker. It was Marchessault's fourth goal in as many games.

[RELATED: Vegas had 2-0 lead after review upheld goal call]

Now, thanks to the game-winner from Goodrow, the Sharks will advance to play the Colorado Avalanche in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs beginning Friday.

Chances are they won't play in a game as bonkers as this one.