Doug Wilson

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 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 currently all 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 gift Marc-Edouard Vlasic hydrofoil for reaching 1,000 NHL games

Sharks gift Marc-Edouard Vlasic hydrofoil for reaching 1,000 NHL games

In a 4-2 home win over the Vancouver Canucks on Dec. 14, Marc-Edouard Vlasic became the second player and first defenseman in Sharks franchise history to reach 1,000 career games with San Jose. Before a 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at SAP Center on Saturday night, Vlasic had his moment in the spotlight for that achievement.

In keeping with NHL tradition, Vlasic was presented with a silver stick during a pregame ceremony to commemorate his 1,000th career NHL game. Prior to puck drop, he was joined on the ice by his wife, Martine, and the eldest of his three rescue dogs, Kelly, for some well-deserved recognition. After a montage of some of his greatest moments with the Sharks since arriving on the scene as a 19-year-old was shown on the jumbotron, the procession of gifts commenced.

First up was San Jose's strength and conditioning staff, who presented Vlasic with a 1.5-liter bottle of champagne.

Next up was an assortment of the Sharks' on-ice leadership: Joe Thornton, Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, as well as Logan Couture (using a crutch and walking boot) and Tomas Hertl (wearing a knee brace). As they limped out to join Vlasic on the ice for a group photo, the P.A. announcer informed the crowd that Vlasic's teammates had gifted him a hydrofoil.

Sorry. A what?

According to the announcer, the gift is "a surfboard with a high-energy lithium-ion battery-powered board that extends below the board into the water."

Vlasic was more succinct when describing it after the loss.

"You can power it by itself," he said. "You don’t need a boat or a wave."

Alrighty then. If you're thinking that's a bit random of a gift, consider the fact that when fellow defenseman Brent Burns reached his 1,000th game last year, he was gifted a pair of pregnant antelopes. So ... yeah.

Vlasic will definitely get more use out of his new hydrofoil at his lakehouse in Quebec than any sort of animal. Besides, he already has the dogs. He couldn't bring them all to the ceremony, but Kelly, a golden retriever, was the choice since she's "the oldest and the one that’s least scared of all the noise."

After the group photo with his teammates, Vlasic was joined on the ice by Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, who drafted Vlasic in the second round (No. 35 overall) back in 2005. After relaying stories from Vlasic's junior coach, Patrick Roy, and one of Vlasic's long-time peers, Sidney Crosby, Wilson laid out the credentials that will cement Vlasic's place in franchise lore. 

In addition to ranking first in franchise history among defensemen in games played (1,018) and plus-minus (plus-122) and second in both points (321) and assists (249), Vlasic's tenure with the Sharks has put him in some extremely exclusive company. Outside of Vlasic, the only defensemen in NHL history to have participated in more victories over 1,000 games with the same franchise are Larry Robinson, Serge Savard and Nick Lidstrom.

For those of you that aren't NHL history buffs, those three players have combined for nine Norris trophies and 17 Stanley Cup championships, and all now reside in the Hall of Fame.

[RELATED: Sharks not waving white flag, but priorities have changed]

But you know what they (probably) don't have?

A hydrofoil. Heh.

Vlasic is still working on the other stuff.

Doug Wilson's job is safe despite Sharks' disappointing season, owner says


Doug Wilson's job is safe despite Sharks' disappointing season, owner says

This season hasn't gone as the Sharks had planned.

After starting out 15-16-2, the Sharks elected to fire head coach Peter DeBoer, much to the shock of players and staff. They promoted Bob Boughner to interim head coach. While the change appeared to initially spark the Sharks, their play has since tapered off since as they enter the All-Star break at 21-25-4 after three straight blowout losses.

With the losses mounting, some have wondered if general manager Doug Wilson's job could be in jeopardy. That is not the case. 

"While we are all very disappointed in the team's performance thus far this season, Doug has a long history of leading our team to success," majority owner Hasso Plattner said in a statement Thursday while announcing changes to the Sharks' business operations. "The last time we failed to meet our winning standards in the 2014-15 season, we were able to quickly rebound and re-establish a winning culture for the next several years. I am supportive of Doug's plan to get our team back on track."

The Sharks have to exit the All-Star break on fire if they want to make a run at a postseason berth. If they limp out of the gate, it will be time for them to focus on the future and how to quickly rebuild the team for a playoff return next season.

[RELATED: Key storylines to focus on during remainder of Sharks season]

Whatever happens, the ship still is Wilson's to guide.