Sharks not hitting panic button just yet, but have tough road ahead

Sharks not hitting panic button just yet, but have tough road ahead

Sharks captain Logan Couture summarized it best after San Jose's 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night. 

"We've scored three goals in three games," he told reporters at Honda Center. "You're not going to win any games doing that."

Right now, the Sharks don't look good. They've started the season with a 0-3-0 record and been outscored 12-3. The former is their worst start since 1993, and the latter is their worst-ever mark this early.

While the first three games of a season aren't likely to make or break a season, they certainly can make you question what a team is made of. 

Even though the Sharks appeared happier with their performance against the Anaheim Ducks than they were with Friday's loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, you have to wonder if the team is one step away from hitting the panic button.

"I think we've just got to realize that there's a lot of opportunity here," defenseman Brenden Dillon said Saturday. "It was frustrating, but I think we've built on the last game. In the first two games, we weren't really happy with our effort. Tonight we had some opportunities but (Ducks goaltender John) Gibson played well. But we're going to have to get better. We have to earn our first win."

The lack of goal production is particularly troubling, especially with the Sharks allowing a goal within the first five-and-a-half minutes of each game this season. Even though San Jose looked quicker off the opening faceoff Saturday than the previous two contests, a turnover committed by goaltender Aaron Dell ended up in the back of the Sharks' net just 3:38 into the game.

Coach Peter DeBoer said after the loss that he liked many aspects of Dell's performance, as the netminder made some key saves that kept the Sharks in the game. But with where San Jose stands at the moment, that turnover was far too costly.

"Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of room for errors like that," DeBoer said. "We're barely getting a goal a night."

The Sharks' goal-scoring woes appear to be due to a mix of factors. The team's veterans aren't playing at their usual high level and the players who are new to the lineup are still working out where they fit in. Heck, between Evander Kane's suspension and mounting injuries, the Sharks haven't even played with their expected full lineup yet this season. Then there's the trouble with turnovers, which has interrupted some of San Jose's best scoring chances and resulted in the puck going the other way. 

Yet, even with the turnover troubles in Saturday's game in Anaheim, the Sharks seemed more positive they'll be able to turn things around. The question now is how much trouble they'll allow themselves to get into in the next game before the sirens really start going off.

[RELATED: Ex-Shark Marleau reportedly confident he'll find new team]

As if the start of the season wasn't challenging enough, the road trip continues in Nashville against the Predators on Tuesday. The Preds are built around a two-way defense and have given the Sharks fits in recent seasons. San Jose seems hopeful now that it can grind and turn things around, but that could change pretty quickly if the Sharks fall into another early hole. 

The Sharks haven't gone into full panic mode just yet. Depending on their start Tuesday, though, that could change.

Brenden Dillon thanks Sharks fans, San Jose after trade to Capitals

Brenden Dillon thanks Sharks fans, San Jose after trade to Capitals

Before the Sharks trade that would send Brenden Dillon to the Washington Capitals took place on Tuesday, the defenseman was emotional talking to the media upon the possibility of leaving San Jose.

After the inevitable deal happened, Dillon had a moment to say what spending six seasons with the Sharks meant to him.

"First and foremost, the city here, the fan base has been unbelievable," Dillon told the media on Tuesday. "Doug (Wilson) from day one, he really believed in me as a player, bringing me in here." 

'I've learned so much, and I think when I came here -- you know, a 22, 23-year-old guy, just trying to build this game, I think for my second year being part of going to the Stanley Cup Finals, see the grind, see how hard it is to get there, you need a lot of things to go right, you need a lot of the special people, I think that's helped me."

Wilson, the Sharks' general manager, mirrored the emotions on having to go through with a trade of this magnitude. 

"Such an amazing teammate," Wilson said about Dillon. "Wonderful guy, right from the day he's come here and he's made people around him better, and how he's carried himself, his fiancĂ©e Emma -- very much appreciate everything they've done for this organization."

For Dillon, the Sharks received a 2020 second-round draft pick (Colorado's previously acquired by Washington) and a third-round draft pick in either 2020 or 2021 from the Caps.

The 29-year-old came to San Jose in a trade from the Dallas Stars in November of 2014. Across those six seasons with the Sharks, he appeared in 439 games, posting 88 points with 13 goals and 75 assists. He has played the ninth-most games in Sharks history, and has the seventh-most penalty minutes in franchise history.

Programming Note: The "2020 NHL Trade Deadline Show" is coming your way this Monday, Feb. 24 at 11:30am on the MyTeams app and on! How will the Sharks be impacted heading into the Noon deadline? Don’t miss it!

Sharks' return in Brenden Dillon trade leaves something to be desired

Sharks' return in Brenden Dillon trade leaves something to be desired

The wait is over. Brenden Dillon has been traded from the Sharks to the Washington Capitals.

After weeks of being one of the most prominent names mentioned in trade rumors, Dillon got some clarity about his playing career Tuesday when San Jose traded him to the Capitals, who currently sit in first place in the Eastern Conference. In exchange for the rugged defenseman, the Sharks receive the Colorado Avalanche's 2020 second-round draft pick and a conditional 2021 third-round draft pick.

According to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun, San Jose will get the Arizona Coyotes' 2020 third-round draft pick if Dillon and the Capitals go on to win the Stanley Cup this season. In the event they don't, the Sharks instead will get Washington's 2021 third-round draft pick.

So, the Sharks get a second and third-round draft pick for their pending unrestricted free agent. It's just a matter of when that third-rounder is conveyed, and from which team.

LeBrun reported that San Jose had remained consistent with its asking price for Dillon throughout the past week, and apparently, the Capitals were the first to meet it. Two fairly high draft picks for a rental is a pretty sizeable haul for the Sharks, and that return will prove very helpful in reloading their cupboard of assets. That said, it's fair to wonder if San Jose might have been able to get more in return for one of the best defensemen available at the NHL trade deadline.

On TSN's Trade Tracker, Dillon was listed as the No. 4 player overall and No. 2 defenseman on the big board. On The Athletic's NHL Trade Big Board, he was ranked as the No. 7 player overall and the third-highest rated defenseman. On The Fourth Period's Trade Watch List, he was ranked No. 6 and No. 3, respectively. On each and every one of those sites, Dillon was rated considerably higher than Andy Greene, Dylan DeMelo and Marco Scandella, all defensemen who 1) also have been traded within the last 72 hours, 2) are pending unrestricted free agents, and 3) brought back very similar returns.

For the 37-year-old Greene, the New York Islanders traded their 2021 second-round draft pick and prospect David Quenneville to the New Jersey Devils. Dillon not only is eight years younger than Greene, but has been a considerably better performer this season. Dillon's Corsi (47.51) and Fenwick (46.84) percentages -- which calculate the percentage of total and unblocked shot attempts while that player is on the ice for that player's team -- are significantly superior to the elder Greene's (40.35 percent; 41.95 percent). Greene was the Devils' captain, however, and that likely had something to do with New Jersey getting what it did for him.

While DeMelo (26 years old) and Scandella (turns 30 years old Sunday) both are much closer to Dillon's age and measure up better in both Corsi and Fenwick percentages this season, there's no question as to which of the three is the best player. Yet, the Ottawa Senators fetched a 2020 third-round draft pick from the Winnipeg Jets for DeMelo, and the Montreal Canadiens got a 2020 second-round and 2021 conditional fourth-round pick from the St. Louis Blues for Scandella -- whom Montreal traded a 2020 fourth-round draft pick to the Buffalo Sabres to acquire last month.

While Dillon's annual cap hit ($3.27 million) is considerably more expensive than DeMelo's ($900,000), it's actually cheaper than both Scandella's ($4 million) and Greene's ($5 million). When you consider San Jose retained 50 percent of Dillon's cap hit in the deal with Washington -- meaning the Capitals are taking on only $735,000 more salary against the cap for Dillon than the Jets are for DeMelo -- it begs the question as to if the Sharks maximized value in their return.

[RELATED: Report: Execs believe Jumbo trade to Bruins or Avs fits]

Don't get me wrong. The draft picks are very much needed, and certainly more useful to San Jose's future than Dillon will be, as re-signing the defenseman on the open market remains a long shot. The Sharks need to get whatever they can for players that will be of more use to them elsewhere, and the fact that Dillon wasn't traded until Tuesday after weeks (months?) of speculation could lead one to believe that a better offer wasn't available, nor was there going to be one. Still, given what some other teams got in return for worse defensemen, it leaves something to be desired.

Programming Note: The "2020 NHL Trade Deadline Show" is coming your way this Monday at 11:30am on the MyTeams app and on! How will the Sharks be impacted heading into the Noon deadline? Don’t miss it!