Sharks

Four things to know about Sharks' offseason after bizarre season ends

Four things to know about Sharks' offseason after bizarre season ends

It was an all-around bizarre season for the Sharks, culminating with an anticlimactic finish on March 11 in Chicago, their 70th game. That was more than two months ago.

Now that the NHL and its players have drawn out a 24-team straight-to-playoff format, the Sharks and six other clubs have been officially eliminated from contention and can begin “normal” summer operations. 

Here are four things to consider during what already is guaranteed to be the longest offseason in franchise history.

Sharks will be avoiding calculated risks, on several levels

While the NHL is taking ultimate precautions in hub cities to keep participants healthy, it’s one less health risk San Jose’s players and staff (and their families) would have to face amidst the pandemic. 

Additionally, a large majority of NHL players haven’t had any access to ice in more than two months, and are about to endure a very expedited training camp. Several skaters had detailed risk factors involved with returning to game action so quickly, which is something the Sharks won’t experience.

Players are about to get the reset they hoped for

This past Sharks season was a grind, physically and mentally, as much as any other campaign in team history. Although many players had expressed the craving for their sport to return and complete the season, they also realized it was relatively pointless with a dozen games remaining and zero chance of playoff contention. 

Having the opportunity now for bodies and minds to recuperate for an extended period might benefit San Jose much as any other club in the league.

There is not just one problem, and one turn-key solution

The agenda for general manager Doug Wilson would be much more simple this summer to remedy a singular pressing issue, rather than several contributing factors which persisted last season. There were glaring defensive miscues and issues, especially before Bob Boughner took over as interim coach. 

There are related questions about how a goalie tandem will shape up moving forward, with Aaron Dell set to become a free agent. It’s also fair to speculate how the next layer of pipeline talent can contribute next season, given the Sharks' lack of tested depth in the 2019-20 campaign. 

Ultimately, it’s important to watch the Sharks evolve on many fronts, rather than assuming that one “move” they make this summer will be the only difference-maker required.

[RELATED: Where do Sharks go from here?]

Sharks can now move forward on coaching situation

If you read the room, it seems like Bob Boughner already would have been appointed permanent head coach under normal circumstances. Now the Sharks can act on that … or surprise us all by going in a different direction. 

Regardless, this move and announcing permanency of a corresponding coaching staff will add the kind of stability San Jose hasn’t had in almost six months. That will be a tangible benefit in the ability to start laying the groundwork for future seasons.

Sharks' Tomas Hertl explains funny, simple reason why he wears No. 48

Sharks' Tomas Hertl explains funny, simple reason why he wears No. 48

Tomas Hertl has a huge year ahead of him. As he returns from ACL and MCL surgery, he and his wife Aneta are expecting the birth of their first child in November.

Sharks fans everywhere can't wait for No. 48 to get back on the ice. But how did he pick that number? It’s quite simple.

“They give it to me,” he wrote in a recent NHLPA questionnaire.

Enough said.

But before Hertl was the Sharks’ All-Star center, he had other aspirations.

Believe it or not, he wrote in the questionnaire that he wanted to be an architect if he wasn’t going to be a hockey player. But he was born to play hockey.

His dad, Jaroslav, during the winter in his native in Prague, would create nets (measuring the perfect size) on the frozen ponds near where he lived. Hertl’s dad would even kick off skaters if they were recreationally using the area where he wanted to play hockey.

[RELATED: Sharks avoid nightmare scenario in 2020 NHL Draft lottery]

As much as Hertl could have thrived as an architect, his career as a hockey star was destined.

NHL, NHLPA agree to four-year CBA extension through 2025-26 season

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USATSI

NHL, NHLPA agree to four-year CBA extension through 2025-26 season

While MLB and the MLB Players Association spent the last few months bickering, the NHL and its Players Association used the last few weeks to hammer out a new CBA.

On Monday, the two sides announced that they had agreed to a memorandum of understanding for a new four-year extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

If ratified this week, the CBA would run through the 2025-26 NHL season, and expire Sept. 15, 2026.

The NHL and NHLPA also were able to iron out details for the season restart, but because the Sharks aren't heading to one of the two hub cities, that part doesn't really affect them.

TSN's Frank Seravalli reported Sunday that part of the new CBA stipulated that the 2020-21 salary cap would be frozen at $81.5 million, and wouldn't rise until the league reached $4.8 billion in hockey-related revenue.

The Sharks have a lot of free-agent decisions to make this offseason, so a salary-cap freeze doesn't help them.

According to CapFriendly.com, the Sharks will enter the offseason with $14,881,667 in cap space. But with Joe Thornton, Melker Karlsson, Stefan Noesen, Aaron Dell and three other players hitting unrestricted free agency, San Jose might not be able to bring all of them back.

Additionally, Kevin Labanc headlines the Sharks' four restricted free agents. General manager Doug Wilson is going to have a tough time re-signing everyone.

[RELATED: Could Burns be left unprotected for expansion draft?]

If you're keeping track, that's 11 unrestricted or restricted free agents with just under $15 million in cap space to sign them. A few players probably aren't returning next season.

While the Sharks have their work cut out for them this offseason, the league and the Players Association took care of business well ahead of time.