San Jose Sharks: 5 Players to Target This Offseason
Having recently witnessed their team get ousted in the first round of the playoffs after back-to-back appearances in the Conference Finals, many Sharks fans are calling for a complete rebuild. Some want to see general manager Doug Wilson fired, others want to see an entirely new coaching staff brought in. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't among them immediately following San Jose's prompt elimination at the hands of the St. Louis Blues.
But now that the dust has settled, I feel that a slight retool is all this team needs to return to elite form. Wilson has assembled a club that has been among the NHL's finest for almost a decade. A club that has been a perennial Cup contender ever since he took over. I have absolute faith in him being the man who brings the San Jose Sharks their first ever Stanley Cup.
In my humble opinion, the Sharks would be wise to hold on to their core players and bring in some additional speed and grit. Finding some help for the atrocious penalty kill would be prudent as well. The beatdown the Blues laid on them last month exposed Team Teal's deficiencies in each of those departments.
Here are five players that would address those needs and nudge San Jose closer to a Cup run. I aim to keep this as realistic as possible. You won't find the likes of Zach Parise or Ryan Suter on this list because, frankly, the Sharks can't afford them.
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David Jones is set to be an unrestricted free agent in July and will likely be one of the most sought-after players on the market. The 27-year-old winger is coming off two consecutive 20-goal campaigns with the Colorado Avalanche.
Jones has size, speed and scoring ability. He also plays right wing, a position at which the Sharks are sorely lacking depth. In fact, the only natural right wing on San Jose's roster is Martin Havlat.
Bringing Jones in would improve team speed up front and could provide set-up man Joe Thornton with a right-handed sniper to feed the puck to.
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Another soon-to-be free agent, Lee Stempniak had a bit of a down year this season with the Calgary Flames. In 61 games, he managed just 14 goals and 28 points.
Still, Stempniak is quick-footed and knows how to finish his chances. He potted 19 goals in 2010-11 and 28 goals the year before that. His lackluster 2011-12 campaign takes away some of his leverage in contract negotiations, potentially making him easier to sign this summer.
Stempniak, like Jones, is a right-handed winger who could gel with Thornton on San Jose's top line.
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Former Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart will also be a free agent come July, and he has expressed interest in returning to California to be closer to his family. He spent the last four seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, reaching the 20-point plateau in each of the last three years.
Now 32 years old, Stuart isn't the same, quick, puck-moving rearguard he was when Doug Wilson traded him to the Boston Bruins in 2005. He is, however, a very gritty and physical player who can play in any given situation. This includes the penalty kill, and we all know the Sharks could use some help there.
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Jason Chimera elevated his game to new heights this season, posting a career-high 20 goals and 39 points for the Washington Capitals. At age 33, he still has incredible speed.
Under contract for the next two years, Chimera would need to be acquired via trade if the Sharks are interested in picking him up. His strong season may inflate his price tag a bit, but it could be worth it. With speed, scoring ability and penalty-killing prowess, Chimera would make a terrific addition to San Jose's roster.
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Another ex-Shark, Matt Carle is a smooth-skating offensive defenseman with two 40-point campaigns on his resume. He registered 38 points this season and put up six points in 11 playoff games.
Carle will hit free agency this summer and will likely garner a considerable amount of interest from teams around the NHL. Considering his skating ability and poise with the puck, I'd be surprised if the Sharks weren't one of them.
Sam Kelly is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @samkelly10.