Sharks

Sharks' health to key players major concern after Game 5 loss to Blues

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USATSI

Sharks' health to key players major concern after Game 5 loss to Blues

SAN JOSE – Sure, many players at this point in the Stanley Cup playoffs are playing through their fair share of bumps and bruises. For the Sharks, those ailments appear to be piling up – and it creates some big questions for San Jose ahead of their next game.

The Sharks' bench looked pretty thin midway through the third period of their 5-0 loss to the Blues on Sunday with four injured players – Erik Karlsson, Tomas Hertl, Joe Pavelski, and Joonas Donskoi – absent from game action. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer didn’t have an immediate update on any of the four after the game, but there’s already concern about San Jose’s health as they are now on the brink of elimination.

The Sharks were already short a major weapon at the start of the third period of Game 5 when Karlsson wasn’t on the bench with his teammates, which was concerning since his health was already in question. Then it became apparent center Hertl was missing from the bench as well – a scary sight after he sustained a high hit from Ivan Barbashev halfway through the first frame that went unpenalized.

“I saw the Hertl hit, I just watched the replay,” Logan Couture said. “Yeah, that’s a tough one. But they had one earlier in Game 3, I believe on [Justin] Braun, and nothing happened. So they can do it again, right?”

DeBoer pointed to the hit on Hertl and the lack of call as a momentum-changer for San Jose, who was trailing 1-0 at that point in the first period, but still very much in the game.

“Arguably a five-minute major on Tommy Hertl, if you get that – that’s a momentum-changing play right there,” the coach said.

Whether the hit was the reason Hertl was missing from the Sharks’ bench in the third period is still unknown. Nevertheless, San Jose was down two skaters before both Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi left the ice after absorbing big hits from the rival Blues. 

At that point in the game, the Sharks let their emotions take over and found themselves in a world of penalty trouble.

“When Pav got hit high, we lost our composure there in the third period,” DeBoer said. “Not our finest moment, but I understand where that emotion is coming from.”

Of course, the penalties made the Sharks’ job even harder. Sharks analyst Jamie Baker pointed out that being on extended penalty kills when the bench is already short is extra demanding on a team that’s chasing the game.

“They were short so many players in the third period, that’s taxing the rest of the guys, and then they were taking penalties,” Baker said. “So the fatigue factor almost doubles down.”

Donskoi returned to the bench toward the very end of the game, though the Sharks were already down 5-0 at that point with little chance of bouncing back.

As the focus shifts from one game to the next, the Sharks now have to face some serious questions when it comes to the health of their lineup. 

[RELATED: Pavelski, Karlsson leave Game 5 vs. Blues with injuries]

“For Game 6, the health of the players who didn’t play in the third period is going to be topic No. 1,” Baker said. “And if they can’t play, who’s going to go in there and how are they going to go in and win in St. Louis?”

“We’ve just got to regroup,” DeBoer said. “We’ve got to go on and win a game.”

NHL rumors: Sharks have made Erik Karlsson massive contract offer

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AP

NHL rumors: Sharks have made Erik Karlsson massive contract offer

The Sharks fell short in their Stanley Cup bid this season, and they now have some serious business to take care of this offseason.

It all starts with the team's pursuit in keeping star defenseman Erik Karlsson. 

The Sharks have been working toward a contract extension for Karlsson, and they reportedly now have made an offer. SportsNet's Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday that "it is believed they’ve [the Sharks] made him an offer that will challenge, if not surpass, Drew Doughty’s extension from last summer."

The L.A. Kings made Doughty the NHL's highest-paid defenseman last summer when they signed him to an eight-year, $88 million contract.

Not only did Friedman report the Sharks already have offered Karlsson, but he believes the team has a serious chance at bringing him back to San Jose for the long term.

"Conversations have intensified, and I think they’ve got a shot," Friedman wrote.

Karlsson had dinner with Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Wednesday night in Santa Clara, The Athletic's Kevin Kurz reported. A Facebook user in a Sharks fan group posted a picture with Karlsson and Wilson from the restaurant, and it later surfaced on the Sharks' fan-run subreddit.

The Sharks acquired Karlsson in a blockbuster trade with the Senators on the eve of training camp. He played 53 games in his first year as a Shark and scored 45 points -- three goals and 42 assists.

Karlsson battled injuries all season long, and he clearly was hobbled in the playoffs before missing the Sharks' season-ending loss in Game 6 of the Western Conference final to the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. He aggravated his injured groin in Game 4, and played just 10:32 in Game 5.

[RELATED: Inconsistent defense faces uncertain future for Sharks]

While Karlsson’s first go in San Jose didn't go as planned, the Sharks clearly want him to stay in the Bay.

Sharks organizational review: Goalie situation depends on Martin Jones

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USATSI

Sharks organizational review: Goalie situation depends on Martin Jones

SAN JOSE -- There may not have been a Sharks' player who caught more flak from fans this past season than Martin Jones, as the starting goalie battled with consistency this season. Criticism of San Jose's goaltending continued as Jones' backup, Aaron Dell, didn't fare much better overall throughout the regular season. 

Then came the Sharks' 20-game playoff run, where Jones did a complete 180-degree turn after the Sharks went into a 3-1 hole against the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round. As if a switch had been flipped, Jones went from being a liability to being a key to getting Team Teal to the Western Conference Final. 

The question now is which version of Martin Jones will be in net for the Sharks next season -- or how San Jose's goaltending contingent, in general, is going to look and match up to the competition in the future.

Sure, wins are what counts at the end of the day and Jones was tied for third in the league with 36 regular season victories in this last campaign. But while his record improved to 36-19-5 over the previous season's 30-22-6, his save percentage dipped from .915 to .896. He also developed a habit of giving up the first goal of the game within the first few minutes of the first period, putting the rest of the team on their heels early into games.  

Nevertheless, it's pretty unlikely Jones is going anywhere. He's entering the second season of a six-year contract extension he signed in 2017, and even before his turnaround performance in the playoffs the team around him never stopped sticking up for him. When Jones struggled, his teammates continued to put their unwavering faith in him and insisted their defensive effort in front of him was to blame. For that faith to continue, however, Jones is going to have to bring some of his strong play from the playoffs into next season.

As for Jones' backup, Dell's future seems a bit more open. Even with two shutouts on the season, No. 30's numbers also took a dip during the 2018-19 campaign and he ended the regular season with a 3.17 goals-against average and .886 save percentage. With just one year left on his current contract, San Jose could potentially use Dell as a trade piece.

[RELATED: What Sharks can learn from Stanley Cup champs]

Neither of San Jose's Barracuda goalies, Antoine Bibeau and Josef Korenar, saw any NHL time this past season. Although there's a possibility both get a look during camp ahead of next season after both posted better than .900 save percentages. Bibeau also already has two NHL games under his belt from when he was part of the Toronto Maple Leafs' organization, going 1-1-0 with a 1.99 goals-against average. 

The Sharks further added to their goaltending contingent this spring when they signed Zachary Emond to an entry-level contract. Emond, 18, won't be making any appearances at the NHL level this season, although the Sharks have expressed satisfaction with how the sixth-round pick from the 2018 draft is developing. Look for Emond to be a goalie to come up the pipeline for the Sharks, especially if he has another strong season with his junior club.