Sharks

Why Sharks are confident they can make up for lost offensive firepower

Why Sharks are confident they can make up for lost offensive firepower

SAN JOSE -- There has been a lot of talk outside the Sharks dressing room about whether this season's roster can make up for the offensive firepower the team lost during the offseason.

Sure, some of that talk may be circulating within the dressing room as well. But San Jose knows it has the tools to fill the void -- regardless of what the outside world is saying.

"I think the media's going to talk about those things," defenseman Brenden Dillon said as camp opened up. "And in our room too -- there are lockers that are open. There are positions open. You see different line combinations throughout camp."

In addition to losing regular-season goals leader Joe Pavelski (Dallas) for their upcoming campaign, San Jose will be without depth scorers Joonas Donskoi (Colorado) and Gustav Nyquist (Columbus), as well as defenseman and penalty-kill staple Justin Braun (Philadelphia).

While most NHL teams see some sort of turnover in the offseason -- heck, the Sharks are no strangers to how the business of hockey works -- there has been plenty of speculation ahead of the 2019-20 campaign as to how the Sharks will compete since they didn't add a big-name player to their roster to make up for their losses

But as Dillon explained, he and his teammates have to focus on the guys who are on the roster with them right now --- not who they're missing from last year.

"I think it's about realizing the opportunity for us," he summarized. "Whoever's in this room, whoever's dressed for game nights, that's your teammate. That's who you're going to battle with."

Logan Couture had a similar message on the first day of training camp. As hard as it may seem to fill in for the departed players, that's part of the game. Plus, it gives emerging players like Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, and Kevin Labanc the chance to fill in those roles.

"It's not an easy task, but that's the way it works," the captain said. "Same thing happened when Patty (Marleau) moved on somewhere else. Other guys got opportunities to step up and our scouting staff did a tremendous job bringing in European players as well as Timo and Banker, guys like that they drafted. There's a new wave of younger players we're excited about and hopefully this year they can break through like Timo and Banker and Tommy Hertl did."

The Sharks are, in fact, putting a lot of stock in the crop of youngsters that have come into this year's training camp. General manager Doug Wilson went so far as to say earlier this month the team is "as excited about this group of forwards coming in as we've ever been." 

[RELATED: Why Sharks' alternate captains are just as important as Couture]

After just a couple days of practicing and scrimmaging, those younger players already are starting to show that they are ready to compete for big jobs.

Seeing such positive results at the start of the preseason makes it easier for the Sharks to look forward with the players they currently have in their dressing room. 

"I think it just shows the future is bright for us," Dillon said. "And I think for a lot of -- whether it's analysts or (whoever) -- saying we've got 'too many holes to fill' and missing too many things, camp so far has been really good, and there's a lot of talent."

How Sharks can benefit from Erik Karlsson injury at NHL trade deadline

How Sharks can benefit from Erik Karlsson injury at NHL trade deadline

The Sharks undoubtedly would prefer if both players were healthy, but San Jose can take advantage of Tomas Hertl and Erik Karlsson's season-ending injuries. 

Hertl already is on long-term injured reserve after tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee last month, and Karlsson should soon join him after breaking his thumb. That puts the Sharks in a unique position heading into the trade deadline, as the fine folks at Cap Friendly observed Saturday. 

The Sharks were 11 points back of the Western Conference's final wild-card spot as of this writing, with four teams between them and the Arizona Coyotes. San Jose also doesn't own a 2020 first-round pick as a condition of the Erik Karlsson trade, and its prospect pool is considered to be one of the weakest in the NHL. It would make a lot of sense, then, for the Sharks to take on -- or retain -- salary in exchange for prospects and/or picks. 

There are a host of playoff contenders lacking salary-cap space, as Cap Friendly noted. The Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Vegas Golden Knights and Calgary Flames all currently have fewer than $3 million in space, per Cap Friendly. Trading with a Pacific Division rival might prove difficult, but Sharks general manager Doug Wilson should be able to field calls from the likes of the Florida Panthers ($141,250 in current space), Philadelphia Flyers ($2.08 million), Washington Capitals ($2.45 million), Dallas Stars ($2.93 million), Boston Bruins ($3.12 million) and Pittsburgh Penguins ($3.51 million), among others. 

Finding a contract is another matter entirely. The Stars could trade injured center Martin Hanzal, but he already is on LTIR. It's difficult to envision the Panthers trading pending free-agent winger Mike Hoffman or the Capitals dealing soon-to-be free-agent goalie Braden Holtby for salary relief, let alone when you consider both players' trade protection (and Hoffman's history with Erik Karlsson).

The Bruins would love to trade David Backes, but he won't become a free agent until 2022 and can't be placed on LTIR after Bruins general manager Don Sweeney admitted Backes was "fit and able to play" after being waived. Wilson said he wants the Sharks to contend in 2021, and they can't afford to have another $5 million against the cap considering how many players have signed long-term contracts in the last few years. 

[RELATED: Why Hannan sees silver lining in Karlsson injury for Sharks]

Retaining salary seems to be a likelier option. The Sharks' pending free agents all have manageable contracts, but defenseman Brenden Dillon -- rumored to be one of the top blue liners available -- could be more appealing if teams aren't taking on all $3.275 million of his salary-cap hit. 

The trade deadline now is just over a week away, and the Sharks probably won't be buyers as a result of Hertl and Karlsson's injuries. They'll still be in an advantageous position, however, and Wilson has a chance to start re-stocking San Jose's pool of prospects and draft picks. 

Sharks' Erik Karlsson to undergo season-ending thumb surgery Monday

Sharks' Erik Karlsson to undergo season-ending thumb surgery Monday

Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson will undergo season-ending thumb surgery on Monday in Los Angeles, he told reporters Sunday. 

Dr. Steven Shin will operate on Karlsson's broken thumb. Shin also operated on Warriors star Steph Curry and New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees in the past. 

Karlsson broke his thumb Friday in the Sharks' 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. NBC Sports Bay Area's Scott Bair first reported the news Saturday. It was later confirmed by the team. 

The 29-year-old told reporters Sunday that he injured his thumb when he was hit with a slap shot, not from falling over teammate Joe Thornton. He said the initial X-rays didn't show anything complicated. 

[RELATED: Karlsson injury creates opportunity for Sharks' depth]

Karlsson has scored 40 points -- six goals, 34 assists -- this season in 56 games. His 5.0 shooting percentage is his best since the 2016-17 season, but Karlsson's minus-15 plus-minus is his the third-worst of his 11-year career.

The Sharks re-signed Karlsson to a massive eight-year, $92 million contract last June. Since acquiring him from the Ottawa Senators before last season, Karlsson has scored 85 points -- nine goals, 76 assists -- in 109 regular-season games.