It's a new era of Sharks hockey in San Jose with the departure of captain Joe Pavelski, but there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic about next season.
For Randy Hahn, the voice of the Sharks, it all starts with the team's defense. Specifically, it's the trio of Erik Karlsson, Marc Edouard-Vlasic and Martin Jones that has Hahn itching for the season to begin.
Re-signing Karlsson was the focal point to the Sharks' offseason and San Jose's front office sealed the deal with an eight-year, $92 million contract. With new weight to his wallet, expectations have rocketed for Karlsson in Year 2 wearing teal.
“There is huge expectations for Erik Karlsson, as there should be and as I’m sure he expects,” Hahn recently said to Blades of Teal's Quentin Thorne. “He is one of the premier players in the league, and has been especially for the last five to six years.”
Karlsson struggled with injuries during his first season with the Sharks, but he still managed to post 45 points (three goals, 42 assists) in 53 regular-season games. He recorded 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 19 playoff games, which ranked second on San Jose.
When Karlsson did play, the Sharks went 30-23 in regular-season games and 10-9 in the playoffs.
While he's not a star like Karlsson, Hahn is intrigued to see the growth of Vlasic.
“With a guy like Marc-Edouard Vlasic, I think the goal of the Sharks is to pair him with Karlsson next season,” Hahn said. “[Vlasic] being a tremendous defensive defender in the NHL and Karlsson being a tremendous offensive defender, and the second wave of offense coming from Brent Burns.”
Rounding out the trio is the Sharks' goaltender.
Jones had a down year where he posted a career-worst .896 save percentage and 2.94 goals against average. Clearly, Hahn still believes in him.
“Martin Jones is an excellent goalie, I don’t think he is elite yet, but next season I think he has a chance to be,” Hahn said. “The Sharks have a lot of confidence in Martin Jones and they know how good he can be.”
The Sharks open the 2019-20 regular season in Las Vegas, and all eyes will be on their defense taking away goals from the Golden Knights.