Sharks

Don't blame Joakim Ryan for Brent Burns' struggles

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AP

Don't blame Joakim Ryan for Brent Burns' struggles

Over the last three years, Brent Burns played with only one defensive partner more in a single season than he has with Joakim Ryan in 2017-18.

That partner, of course, is Paul Martin, who’s missed all but two games this season due to complications from offseason ankle surgery. Martin is set to miss yet more time after experiencing a setback in his recovery, although the injury is not related to his ailing ankle, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Martin’s absence, combined with the fact that Burns has gone 20 games without a goal this season, has naturally led to questions about whether their separation is causing Burns to struggle.

That’s not the case.

Burns is actually playing a bit better alongside Ryan than he was with Martin. In just over 257 minutes together at even strength, the Sharks have controlled 55.74 percent of the shot attempts with Burns and Ryan on the ice, according to Corsica Hockey, up from Burns and Martin’s 52.13 percent mark together.

The Sharks are attempting more shots than their opponents when Burns and Ryan play, they’re doing so at a higher rate. With Burns and Ryan on the ice, the Sharks are attempting nearly nine more shots per 60 minutes than when Burns and Martin together, and just over two more shots per 60 minutes are hitting the net.

As we’ve written about previously, Burns’ scoring struggles date back to the stretch run last season, when he was playing alongside Martin. It wasn’t Martin’s fault then, just as it’s not Ryan’s fault now.

The puck simply isn’t going in. Through 20 games this season, Burns has 82 shots on goal and zero goals. Through 20 games in his Norris Trophy-winning campaign, Burns had 83 shots on goal and seven goals.

It’s not like Burns was super lucky then, either, as his 8.3 percent shooting percentage through 20 games last season was only one percent higher than his career average. Shooting at a zero percent clip after 20 games is, clearly, the outlier.

Together, Burns and Ryan have been more unlucky than anything else. When the two skate during five-on-five play, the Sharks are scoring on only 3.45 percent of their shots, much lower than the 8.26 percent San Jose scored on when Martin and Burns played together.

At 32 years old, it would be a stretch to expect Burns to match or exceed his heights from a season ago, but it would be an even bigger one to expect him to struggle much longer alongside Ryan. 

They've done everything right, they just haven't scored.

NHL sets salary cap at $79.5 million, so how much can Sharks spend this summer?

NHL sets salary cap at $79.5 million, so how much can Sharks spend this summer?

The Sharks will be able to spend up to $79.5 million on their roster this season, after the NHL and NHLPA announced the salary cap for the 2018-19 season. The salary floor was set at $58.8 million. 

That gives San Jose a hair over $16 million in salary cap space, according to CapFriendly with forwards Tomas Hertl, Chris Tierney, and defenseman Dylan DeMelo set to become restricted free agents (RFAs) and Joe Thornton headlining the team's list of pending unrestricted free agents (UFAs).

The Sharks cleared $4 million in salary cap space trading Mikkel Boedker to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, and can have about an additional $1.8 million to work with if rookies Dylan Gambrell and Max Letunov start the season in the AHL. If San Jose utilizes the allowed offseason overage of 10 percent of the salary cap, the club can add, approximately, up to $25.7 million in salary commitments this offseason.

But, the team would need to clear about $8 million in salary before the start of the season. Should the Sharks buy out Paul Martin, as has been reported as a possibility, they'll save $2.83 million against the salary cap. 

All that space will be necessary, if recent reports are to be believed. They've been linked to two of the best free-agent forwards available: New York Islanders captain John Tavares and Russian winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who looks to return to NHL after five years in the KHL. Hockey Graphs' Matt Cane's contract model projects Tavares' contract would carry approximately a $10.6 million cap hit, while Kovalchuk is reportedly seeking a contract worth around $6 million annually. 

San Jose, or any of the other 30 teams, can sign any player to a contract worth up to $15.9 million annually, or 20 percent of the league's salary cap. That is the maximum amount as allowed under the collective bargaining agreement. 

Assessing how Sharks' two trades impact the rest of their offseason plans

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AP

Assessing how Sharks' two trades impact the rest of their offseason plans

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson got an early start to his morning on Tuesday, making a pair of deals before most of the team's fans had woken up. 

To recap: San Jose acquired winger Mike Hoffman, a pick, and a prospect from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a package centered around struggling forward Mikkel Boedker. Ottawa announced that deal at 4:58 a.m. PT.  The Sharks then flipped Hoffman and a pick to the Florida Panthers for a trio of draft selections, a trade that Florida officially announced at 7:17 a.m. PT. 

Here's what each team acquired after the dust settled:

Sharks get:

  • Defenseman Cody Donaghey (from Senators)
  • 2020 fifth-round pick (from Senators)
  • 2018 fourth-round pick (from Panthers)
  • 2018 fifth-round pick (from Panthers)
  • 2019 second-round pick (from Panthers)


Senators get (from Sharks):

  • Forward Mikkel Boedker
  • Defenseman Julis Bergman
  • 2020 sixth-round pick


Panthers get (from Sharks):

  • Forward Mike Hoffman
  • 2018 seventh-round pick 


So what does it all mean for the Sharks? Perhaps most importantly, trading Boedker's contract, who was just seeming to find his place in the lineup down the stretch this season after signing a four-year deal with the team two summers ago, clears an additional $4 million in salary cap space over the next two seasons (and $6 million in total salary).  With the cap set to rise to between $78 million and $82 million, San Jose would (as of now) have between $14.5 million and $18.5 million in cap space, and that's before considering the possibility that the team buys out Paul Martin's contract. 

Even if no other moves are made, the Sharks are in position to make a splash in free agency. According to The Sporting News' Evan Sporer, their maneuvering is designed to chase not one, but two of the biggest free-agent fish this summer. 

In his statement announcing the trades, Wilson said the deals "free up a substantial amount of cap space for internal and external player options in the coming months," and re-stocked on draft picks. It was a tidy bit of trading, as San Jose improved upon each of the selections it traded away, and now has seven picks in this year's draft after entering the day with just five. 

He also said that the deal opens a spot for the young forwards in the organization to challenge for ice time. Wilson specifically mentioned Kevin Labanc (who actually averaged more ice time than Boedker this season), playoff hero Marcus Sorensen, newly-signed European free agents Antti Suomela and Vincent Praplan, as well as rookies Dylan Gambrell and Max Letunov. 

Meanwhile, Hoffman joined Theo Fleury and Mark Messier in the "Sharks For A Few Hours" club, and has a new home following accusations that his girlfriend, Monica Caryk, harassed a teammate's wife. Last week, the Ottawa Citizen reported that Melinda Karlsson, wife of Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, had filed for an order of protection against Hoffman's girlfriend and accused her of an online harassment campaign throughout the season.

As a result, Hoffman's trade value plummeted from where it was at the trade deadline, according to ESPN's  Greg Wyshynski.

Pierre LeBrun told TSN that the trade was not a three-way deal, as the Sharks and Senators reportedly did not communicate about the subsequent trade with the Panthers. Wilson's no stranger to creatively facilitating some of the offseason's biggest deals, however. He acquired a pair of players and a pick from the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010 so Atlanta could acquire Dustin Byfuglien from then-Stanley Cup champions Chicago, and  he also acquired goaltender Martin Jones from the Boston Bruins three years ago just days after the Los Angeles Kings shipped him (and a first-round pick) up to Boston for Milan Lucic.