Why Jeremy Roenick won't count out Sharks after losing Joe Pavelski


Why Jeremy Roenick won't count out Sharks after losing Joe Pavelski

The Sharks lost a lot from last season's roster earlier this month.

Wingers Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist signed with the Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets, respectively, on July 1. On the first day of NHL free agency, three players who combined to score 58 goals and set up 54 more in teal last year had new homes for next season and beyond. Thrity-eight of those goals and 26 of those assists came from the stick of Pavelski, who also served as captain for the previous four seasons.

But NBC Sports analyst Jeremy Roenick can overcome those "tough" losses. 

"I think the Sharks are very resilient," Roenick told NBC Sports Bay Area in an interview ahead of the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship Tournament in Lake Tahoe. "I think they still have the makeup to be a very, very good team. There's no question that [general manager] Doug Wilson is going to find a way to bring on players that are going to fill the void as well as possible." 

Facing a salary-cap crunch that would have made retaining all of his free agents impossible, Wilson prioritized re-signing defenseman Erik Karlsson (eight-years, reportedly worth $92 million per Cap Friendly), and young wingers Timo Meier (four years, reportedly worth $24 million per Cap Friendly) and Kevin Labanc (one year, reportedly worth $1 million per Cap Friendly). Veteran center Joe Thornton and young forward Dylan Gambrell still need new deals, but Wilson has just under $5.4 million in salary-cap space to work with for the remainder of the summer. 

Roenick, who played with San Jose for the last two seasons of his 20-year career, said the Sharks, in his eyes, could use a third-line winger capable of scoring a goal every three or four games. He also mentioned that the Sharks need Martin Jones, who posted a career-worst .896 save percentage and 2.94 goals against average, to be more consistent next season. 

[RELATED: Pavelski reflects on decision to leave Sharks, his time in Bay Area]

The Sharks' losses shouldn't be underestimated next season as they continue to chase their first Stanley Cup. But, according to Roenick, neither should their general manager. 

"I don't think you can replace a guy like Joe Pavelski in terms of his leadership, his personality, how much everybody loved him in that locker room and what he can do scoring goals," Roenick continued. "But, there's no question they have one of the best GMs in the game, and he'll make sure that team's ready to go."

Ex-Shark Patrick Marleau, Penguins eliminated in NHL qualifying round

Ex-Shark Patrick Marleau, Penguins eliminated in NHL qualifying round

Sharks legend Patrick Marleau might have had his last decent chance to win a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL restart. Hopefully he gets another opportunity, because it ain't happening this year.

The fifth-seeded Penguins were stunned and upset by the 12-seeded Montreal Canadiens in the qualifying round after the Habs advanced to the playoffs with a 3-1 series victory on Friday. Pittsburgh lost Game 1 and was never able to recover, thanks in large part to Montreal goalie Carey Price.

The Penguins scored just eight goals in the series, none of which were deposited by Marleau. In fact, the long-time Shark didn't record a single point across the four games. The Penguins acquired him at the trade deadline in exchange for what is now confirmed to be a 2021 third-round draft pick, as San Jose wanted to give him an opportunity to check that last box on his career résumé.

Marleau now will become an unrestricted free agent. It has been widely presumed that if he indeed returns for a 23rd NHL season, it might come in a third go-around with the Sharks. San Jose finished dead last in the Western Conference this season, but the Sharks' record was largely impacted by injuries and they certainly could return to the playoffs next year.

Really, it would only be fitting if Marleau ended his career in teal.

As for the Sharks, the qualifying round has gone nearly as well as they could have hoped for. Of the four Pacific Division teams that were involved, only the Edmonton Oilers failed to advance.

Due to the wacky 2020 NHL draft lottery, each team eliminated in the qualifying round has a 12.5 percent chance to land the No. 1 overall pick. Whichever team lands it is widely expected to use it on consensus top prospect Alexis Lafreniere.

[RELATED: Sharks' Hertl 'finally back' on ice after tearing ACL, MCL]

So, there's an 87.5 percent chance -- barring trades -- that Lafreniere won't immediately end up in the Sharks' division.

Given the season they had, they'll take any win they can get.

Sharks' Tomas Hertl 'finally back' on ice after January knee injury

Sharks' Tomas Hertl 'finally back' on ice after January knee injury

It's not clear when the Sharks will play next.

One star took a big step towards rejoining them when they do.

Tomas Hertl posted a video Wednesday on his Instagram of him skating in his native Czech Republic, writing that he was "[f]inally back" on the ice.

View this post on Instagram

Finally back 🏒 @filipchlapik @hertlik89

A post shared by Tomas Hertl (@hertlik48) on

Hertl, 26, tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee in January and missed the final 18 games of the Sharks' season before it was suspended -- and, ultimately, ended -- due to the coronavirus pandemic. The center injured his knee on Jan. 29 against the Vancouver Canucks, just four days after playing in his first All-Star Game. 

The 2012 first-round pick was one of the lone bright spots in the Sharks' otherwise dreary season, scoring 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) in 48 games. San Jose generated 56.76 percent of the expected goals and 54.38 percent of the high-danger chances with Hertl on the ice at full strength, according to Natural Stat Trick, and Hertl himself accounted for his highest rate of 5-on-5 expected goals (0.95 per hour) of any season other than his rookie year.

Hertl said in May that he expected to be ready to start the 2020-21 season, no matter when that is.

"I want to be there for my team, and that’s why I have been working every day for four months even with the season so far away," Hertl said at the time. "My next goal is getting back and being better than before. I know I can do it. I have to give it everything I can to get back.”

[RELATED: Thornton reportedly could play in Switzerland before NHL season]

Hertl's return to the ice marks an offseason milestone for the forward, who's signed through 2022.

He and his wife, Aneta, announced last month that they're expecting a baby in November.