Sharks

NHL free agency predictions: Rumored landing spots for 10 key players

sharkslanding.jpg
AP

NHL free agency predictions: Rumored landing spots for 10 key players

Let the craziness commence.

The NHL free agency period opens up at 9 a.m. PT on July 1, leaving teams less than 24 hours from now to finalize their plans to retool their roster for next season. There are several marquee players available in unrestricted free agency that could shift the balance of power in the league, as well as numerous restricted free agents that any team would love to acquire if the price is right.

More than a third of the teams in the league enter the free agency period with over $17 million in projected cap space according to Cap Friendly, which means there's no shortage of available funds to be thrown around.

After being eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference final, the Sharks already have made their most important move of the offseason in locking up Erik Karlsson to an eight-year contract. Joe Thornton is fully expected back, and Patrick Marleau is rumored to desire a return to the franchise that drafted him. Still, San Jose has a lot of work to do to finalize its roster for next season, and it's quite possible --perhaps even likely -- they'll lose multiple contributors from last year's team, some of them fan-favorites.

As for where all the players will end up, here are predictions for some of the biggest names available in NHL free agency:

CLICK TO SEE WHERE PANARIN, BOBROVSKY, PAVELSKI AND THE REST WILL LAND THIS SUMMER

Sharks fired Peter DeBoer after rocky start, but what comes next?

deboerusa.jpg
USATSI

Sharks fired Peter DeBoer after rocky start, but what comes next?

The Sharks' dismissal of Pete DeBoer is both mildly surprising, and not shocking, all at the same time. It’s a sad truth in professional sports that the head coach takes a fall for his team. It also offers an intriguing aspect, though, to see what kind of response the team delivers after the change.

It’s been difficult to figure out who the Sharks are this season, and that’s a scary trait when you’re responsible for assuring their success. They’ve lost four, then won three. Then lost seven of eight, only to win nine of the next 10. It’s almost a season’s worth of highs and lows as if they’ve ridden an entire amusement park worth of roller-coasters in just 10 minutes.

Other confusing trends include their defensive struggles in 5-on-5 situations, yet their utter dominance on the penalty kill. As well on the other side, their ability to draw a significant number of penalties but rarely be able to capitalize with any consistency on the power play.

A lot of folks will look at the goaltending stats to blame, but the eye test tells a better story. Save percentage and goals-against average are not complimentary right now for either Aaron Dell or Martin Jones. But those numbers are flawed because of the quality and quantity of “Grade-A” chances the Sharks have been giving up dating to the start of last year.

Not all shots are created equal. This holds true in hockey and in basketball. A lay-up usually converts at a much higher clip than shots from beyond the arc. San Jose essentially has been routinely giving up slam dunks while trying to shoot too many 3-pointers.

Team defense has to be a top priority to turn around, no matter who the head coach is.

It’s not realistic to think that change or improvement will take place overnight, but obviously, there will be a lot of extra attention surrounding the Sharks in coming weeks and months, as well as a lot of pressure on the new men at the helm. Bob Boughner was the only member of the staff retained, and will be joined by fan favorites Mike Ricci, Evgeni Nabokov and longtime AHL staple Roy Sommer.

[RELATED: Why firing DeBoer doesn't solve all of Sharks' problems]

The $80 million question (think salary-cap space) right now is, what happens next for the Sharks?

Does this move from a tactical or symbolic standpoint unify a group that seems to have all the right pieces but hasn't had consistent results? It has become a notable trend across the NHL to see high-profile clubs make moves early when things don’t launch well.

But to think that any team can match what the St. Louis Blues did last season -- going from worst in the league in January to a Stanley Cup win in June -- definitely shouldn't be considered a reliable blueprint.

Why Sharks firing coach Peter DeBoer doesn't solve all their problems

deboersidebarap.jpg
AP

Why Sharks firing coach Peter DeBoer doesn't solve all their problems

It was time for a shake-up, there’s no question about it. And when things go sideways, the head coach typically takes the bulk of the blame.

But, the Sharks still have a lot of work to do.

So while those calling for Peter DeBoer to be out of a job have been granted their wish, it needs to be understood that his firing isn’t the beginning nor the end of San Jose's problems.

Don't get me wrong: The first stretch of the Sharks' 2019-20 campaign has been downright rough. They lost the first four games of their season and, despite having plenty of talent in the lineup, have struggled mightily to dig out of the hole they're in now. Even during the six-game winning streak, those games weren't always pretty.

And through that stretch of wins, there were issues that San Jose needed to address, whether it was goaltending or lack of offensive depth or the penalty kill being overworked.

Long story short: This isn’t just about coaching. Honestly, the Sharks still might lose a lot of games.

Please remember that DeBoer took the Sharks to the Western Conference finals last season with Martin Jones and Aaron Dell posting save percentages under .900. And DeBoer took the team to a Stanley Cup Final in 2016 after beating two stacked teams in the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues. This isn't the story of someone who can't coach a Cup-contending team.

So, what was the issue?

Even before DeBoer's firing, the Sharks have been in a team in flux. After the first four defeats, DeBoer had his own list of complaints as to how the team was playing defensively. And offensively. Quite frankly, he wasn't happy with how the team played as a whole during the winning streak in November.

Whatever the core reason is for San Jose's woes, something still has to change now that DeBoer is out the door. After nearly erasing its October deficit with a phenomenal record in November, San Jose has gone 0-4-1 so far in December, a slide that has dropped the team five points out of a playoff spot.

[RELATED: Sharks scuffling because of bad combo of scoring, penalties]

December is a weird month to try to right the ship. The Sharks have a homestand coming up but with two long breaks shoved in the middle. They have a three-day layover ahead of a back-to-back with St. Louis and Vegas, and then another a few days later with the Kings and Flyers.

The Sharks absolutely could go on a run before the new year. Just don't expect the coaching change to solve all of their problems.