The San Jose Sharks are an enigma. They have been a good, some would say great, NHL team for the last decade. Since 2000 they have only missed the playoffs once. They have won the Pacific division six times. They won the Presidents trophy as the NHL team having the best regular season record in 2008-09.
Since the 2000 playoffs the Sharks have gone 11-11 in playoff series. That is not stellar, but they have always been competitive. Like the Detroit Red Wings the Sharks are often in the conversation when people discuss potential Stanley Cup champions. However in that time, with all those playoff appearances and despite winning 11 playoff series, they have never made it to the Stanley Cup final. The Sharks have lost the three Western Conference finals they have been in, and generally in a decisive fashion. They have a 3-12 record in Conference Final playoff games.
Back in the 2004 playoffs the Sharks lost the conference final to what many people felt was an inferior Calgary Flames team. After the lockout the Sharks pulled off a blockbuster deal with the Boston Bruins. They traded Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau, and Brad Stuart to Boston for Joe Thornton. While the other players had positive qualities Thornton was and still is the best player in the deal.
Since that time San Jose has believed and acted like they are a team with a legitimate chance to win the Stanley Cup every year. Each year they have traded young talent and draft picks for veterans and taken on salary to win the cup now.
Unfortunately this group of players has proven unable to win the Stanley Cup while they were in their prime. San Jose has fallen into the trap of churning their line-up each year without actually being able to improve their team. At the same time their best players have been aging.
The San Jose Sharks have to currently be running one of the oldest rosters in hockey. They have ten players who are 30 or older. The bigger problem is the fact that the offensive core of this team is Joe Thornton (33), Patrick Marleau (33), and Dan Boyle (36). These players are getting older and slower. Their offensive numbers are not going to improve. The team has added veterans like Martin Havlat (31) who has injury problems and Scott Gomez (33) who has no offensive upside left. Even the younger core of talent is getting into (Joe Pavelski-28, Brent Burns-28) or past (Ryan Clowe-30) their prime.
San Jose has needed to rebuild for a few years now. Instead they have squandered picks in an attempt to win now. They had no first round pick in 2011, 2009 or 2008. They didn't even have a second round pick in 2008.
A lot of their young talent has been traded away. Their first round pick in 2005, Devin Setoguchi, was sent to Minnesota. Ty Wishart from 2006 was sent to Tampa Bay in the deal that brought Dan Boyle. Charlie Coyle the first round pick from 2010 was sent to Minnesota with Setoguchi and their first round pick in 2011 for Brent Burns and a second round pick.
Thus the cupboard is notoriously bare in San Jose for a team that is only likely to get worse.
They currently have Logan Couture (23), T.J. Galiardi (24) and Marc-Eduoard Vlasic (25) as young talented players at the NHL level who still have untapped potential.
Hockeysfuture.com had San Jose listed as 24th in the NHL for the quality and quantity of talent of their prospects. That's fine if troubling when you have just won a Stanley Cup. When you appear to be in decline with six to twelve players that will need to be replaced in the next five years, it is disastrous.
Tomas Hertl, last season's first round pick, seems like the only prospect with top offensive potential in the organization. That's a lot of eggs in one very tiny basket. Tomas Hertl, even if he develops into a quality offensive NHL player isn't going to play defense or climb into the net.
The Sharks are dedicated to winning the Stanley Cup which is good. Many organizations seem happy with much less. Unfortunately this team does not look to be capable of winning a cup. The time has come to trade veterans and start drafting again.