Time for one final Sharks mailbag in 2016....
With the trade deadline around the corner, what do you think Doug Wilson will go after, if anything? (Uncle Jesse @chuysancho)
I’m not sure I’d call the trade deadline “around the corner,” with two months to go before Feb. 28. Still, it’s easy to predict that the Sharks probably won’t do a whole lot leading up to it. They certainly can’t afford to add anyone at the moment, because when Tomas Hertl is ready to return, they’re going to have to shed at least one or two players to fit the center/left wing back on the roster under the salary cap.
If there’s one area I could see them trying to upgrade it’s the backup goalie position, as Aaron Dell is still in his first year and Martin Jones really seemed to benefit from the extra rest he got in the second half last season when James Reimer was playing so much. But any move the Sharks make would be a tricky one, because of their financial situation and they like the chemistry in the dressing room.
As long as the team stays healthy, don’t expect the roster to be all that different on March 1 than it is today.
I know [Timo] Meier scored in his first game, but how has he looked since then? (@MattyCabal)
In a word, comfortable. Meier is still just sitting on one goal, but he’s generated 19 shots in five games – all at even strength. Even games where he’s quiet, such as last Friday against Edmonton, he seems to get at least one or two good scoring chances. He had one excellent opportunity from the slot in the third period against the Oilers, but Cam Talbot turned it aside in what was a 2-2 game at the time.
The 20-year-old is also spending more time in the offensive end, with a shot attempt percentage of 53.77 – the second-best mark on the team.
One thing Meier does particularly well, and it’s been in short supply on this year’s team, is he gets to the front of the net. Although he still hasn’t broken through to earn a spot on either power play unit yet, that’s probably just a matter of time. The Sharks put Joel Ward on the top unit at Wednesday’s practice with the thought that he’ll be able to create some havoc around the crease for that struggling group, but at some point Meier could be the better option there.
If winning the Cup is the goal, what weakness(es) will hold this team back? How can [Pete] DeBoer/Wilson address them? (@ClumsyPuddle)
The biggest fear I would have with this team is its age. It’s been a struggle for some of the team’s older players to find their consistency, and the short summer and compacted schedule surely haven’t helped.
DeBoer, though, has a good handle on when to rest his players and when to practice. That was evident last season, when Joe Thornton mentioned many times that the biggest reason he was able to have the dominant second half that he did was his feeling more energized than previous years.
The organization has done a commendable job integrating its younger players onto the roster to make up for the slowing down of guys like Thornton, Ward and Patrick Marleau. The Sharks need a little more from than their veteran players in order to make a deep run, though, than they’ve gotten so far. Some of them will have to pick it up a notch. That bye week at the end of February – the Sharks are off from Feb. 20-24 – could really be a big benefit to this team down the stretch.