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.
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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.