With another season in the books, it’s time to start looking at the offseason and what can be done to improve the San Jose Sharks for next season. A few key moves have already been made, most notably the extension of Logan Couture, the player already deemed the future captain of the Sharks. His deal was reportedly worth five years and $30 million total, but we will most likely not know for sure until July 5th.
With him locked up, what else is there for the Sharks to do?
Well, we have Martin Havlat, who at this point could be considered an option for a compliance buyout. Whenever he is on the ice for San Jose he is definitely a top six forward, the problem has been his ability to stay on it. Injuries have plagued his stint in teal and this season was no different, especially when the playoffs rolled around. His absence forced the Sharks to juggle their lineup which at time struggled to score.
Unfortunately, it may seem he cannot be bought out due to a technicality, according to Fear the Fin. While that would not be the end of the world because when healthy he is definitely an asset, it still would mean the Sharks would be relying on Havlat to stay healthy, something which he has not been able to do in teal.
Another thing I had on the checklist was the re-signing of Raffi Torres. This was just announced this morning but I decided to leave it here and break down the signing.
After his acquisition at the trade deadline Torres was able to inject some life into the San Jose lineup and was quite a force even on the third line when paired with Joe Pavelski. His physical presence gave the Sharks a spark while also chipping in with a few goals, one of which was an overtime winner in round one.
He brought everything the Sharks hoped he would and then some, and was rightfully rewarded with a contract with the Sharks.
His deal, which is three years for $6 million dollars, is a complete steal for the Sharks. Perhaps he was happy knowing he had a GM in Doug Wilson on his side and willing to defend him.
You may remember Wilson incurring a $100,000 fine for his comments criticizing the NHL for the suspension of Torres stating he “strongly disagreed with the NHL’s decision” and that the suspension was “grossly unfair to Raffi, his teammates and our fans.”
I know, I know, a couple months ago I was completely against his arrival. But hey, people change, just like Raffi. Just look at the playoffs when he already had Sharks fans lining up left and right to defend him for his hit in game one of the Sharks’ second round series against the Los Angeles Kings.
One more important move that should be on San Jose’s docket is signing of Scott Gomez. He added quite a bit of depth for the Sharks and seemed at his best when in control of the second power play unit. He, along with the aforementioned Torres, injected life into the second unit and were able to make it at least a bit threatening.
Gomez was especially helpful by giving the Sharks some added depth which came in handy when both Havlat and Torres were out of the lineup.
While he is clearly not the same offensive playmaker he once way, locking him up to a similar deal (about one year for $700,000) he had this past season would be ideal.
Lastly, the Sharks should be in search of a scoring winger. While San Jose is strong up the middle with Thornton, Couture, Pavelski and Gomez the Sharks are lacking depth on the wings.
Besides Marleau and to a lesser extent Havlat (who may be gone) and Torres, the wings are weak. At times guys like Pavelski and Gomez have substituted as winger to play on the top two lines.
What was nice and helped quite a bit was the emergence of Brent Burns who was a force of nature on the top line.
He thrived in the power forward role and become one of San Jose’s big hitters along with the likes of Tommy Wingels and Torres, and having the two big bodies of Burns and Thornton can make for a bit of a matchup nightmare.
Burns developed nice chemistry with Thornton and I think it would be best to keep him as a forward, especially with San Jose’s good depth on defense, and see what happens.
The recent buyout of Danny Briere makes him an interesting option, but it seems like he will be asking for too much. Obviously he is not the only candidate out there, just one of the options.
If the Sharks do need to add a winger to their lineup it would be nice to see one of the young guys from the system get a shot at making the club. The question will be if they will be ready to go, and that’s a big if.
There are plenty of things for GM Doug Wilson to tackle this offseason, but I think everything mentioned above should be considered of upmost importance. Keep in mind he also has the draft coming up so the Sharks will be looking to stock up on some young talent there as well with their multitude of picks this season.
The good thing is he has already gotten the ball rolling by signing extending Couture and re-signing Torres. Also, with those two big names under his belt early he now has a better idea of what he can spend if the Sharks choose to go after a winger.
The front office has been great for years, and we expect nothing different during this offseason.