Complete Guide to the San Jose Sharks' 2014 Offseason
But the Sharks' season ended painfully. After holding a 3-0 series lead, they lost the next four games to the Los Angeles Kings. In the process, they became just the fourth team in NHL history to lose a series after winning the first three games.
Here is a guide to what to expect during the offseason for the San Jose Sharks. The franchise can take several different approaches this summer, but don't expect this to be a quiet offseason for "Team Teal."
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The Sharks finished the regular season with a 51-22-9 record, good for 111 points and a second-place finish in the Pacific Division.
San Jose opened the 2013-14 campaign with a six-game winning streak. It had three other six-game winning streaks over the course of the season in late November, mid-January and mid-March.
The Sharks had only one significant losing streak, a five-game slump that opened November.
Joe Pavelski led the team with 41 goals, followed by Patrick Marleau with 33. Logan Couture and Brent Burns both scored more than 20 goals each despite playing fewer than 70 games due to injury.
Antti Niemi served as the starting goalie and won 39 games.
Rookie Tomas Hertl had 15 goals in just 37 games before suffering an injury that kept him out of the rest of the regular season. He showed he has high natural talent and potential, scoring several highlight-reel goals.
The Sharks were in the thick of the Pacific Division race for most of the season, and a spot in the playoffs was never really in doubt.
Unfortunately, once they reached the playoffs, Team Teal again made an early exit. The Sharks were eliminated by the Los Angeles Kings in the first round in seven games.
The 2013-14 Sharks made history by becoming only the fourth team in NHL history to lose a series after holding a 3-0 lead. To make matters worse, they lost Game 7 at home.
They have been one of the league's best teams since 2003-04 but have yet to reach the Stanley Cup Final.
Biggest Storylines to Follow
The Sharks face a lot of big questions after yet another disappointing playoff exit. While the franchise has a decade of playoff letdowns, this was by far the most painful.
Per the National Post, rumors are circulating that head coach Todd McLellan may be out of a job after this year's playoff collapse. In six seasons behind the bench in San Jose, he has a 271-130-57 record. The Sharks won 50 or more games in a season three times under his guidance but have never reached the Stanley Cup Final.
Even if there is no coaching change, look for general manager Doug Wilson to move some of the core players on his roster. Longtime leaders like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau haven't been able to lead this team to the promised land in the playoffs, and Wilson may be out of patience if he can find someone to take on their rather hefty salaries.
After another early playoff exit, expect this team to get a heart transplant during the offseason. Expect a major trade or two and several new signings to try to make this team more successful in clutch situations.
Notable Players Hitting Free Agency
Dan Boyle is the biggest potential Sharks' player who is set to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) this summer.
He will be 38 before the new season starts and had a cap hit of $6.67 million last season, according to CapGeek.com. He still led all San Jose defensemen in scoring and quarterbacked the power play.
Wilson may welcome Boyle back, but it would have to be at the right price.
Veteran defenseman Scott Hannan is also scheduled to become a UFA. At this point, he is a third-pair defenseman at best.
Backup goalie Alex Stalock will also be a UFA this summer unless the Sharks sign him to a new deal. He may want an opportunity to start, which he may not get if he stays in San Jose.
Depth forwards Mike Brown and Bracken Kearns are also UFAs.
Forwards Tommy Wingels and James Sheppard and defenseman Jason Demers will be restricted free agents (RFAs) this summer.
Top Free-Agent Targets
The Sharks don't just need talent—they need grit and heart as well.
That would make Matt Moulson an ideal fit in San Jose. He is an established 30-goal scorer. The best thing about him is that he specializes in scoring goals from the "dirty areas" just outside the crease. Unfortunately, the Sharks players were either unwilling or unable to do that consistently enough during their playoff series against Los Angeles.
Moulson is also a good teammate and was very popular in the locker room during his time with the New York Islanders.
Another great addition would be Jarome Iginla. He has a lot of heart and adds leadership qualities that the Sharks seem to lack. He is certainly past his prime but can still add some intangibles that San Jose badly needs.
Best Options in the NHL Draft
The NHL draft is a tricky one. Only a handful of players enter the NHL the same year they are drafted. As a result, teams are projecting the development of players two or three years down the road.
The ideal pick for the Sharks may be Brendan Perlini of the Niagara IceDogs.
He already stands 6'3" and weighs 205 pounds. He has great hands and scored more than 30 goals in the OHL at the age of 18.
San Jose's biggest needs are a power forward and additional help on defense.
Players Who Should Be Put on the Trading Block
Changes are coming to San Jose after the team's playoff collapse.
Look for Doug Wilson to try to trade one of the team's leaders. Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton are both candidates if the Sharks can find someone willing to take on their hefty salaries.
Martin Havlat is a buyout candidate unless a trade can be worked out.
Don't be surprised to see a major trade (or several) this summer.
Top Trade Targets
The Sharks need to add leadership, heart and a power forward who can score from around the blue paint.
A change in goal may also be possible; however, there is a glut of goalies available, so free agency may be a better way to go than the trade route.
A player like Brayden Schenn may be an interesting trade candidate. The Philadelphia Flyers have an abundance of natural centers, so he could be expendable.
He is a bona fide 20-goal scorer with the potential to become a bigger offensive weapon. He will also fight for position in the slot area and be a physical force that can play top-six minutes.
Joel Ward of the Washington Capitals would also be a similar type of player, and the Caps are looking to rebuild.
Prospects Most Likely to Debut in 2014-15
The Sharks have two defensemen with the potential to crack their NHL lineup this season.
Last year's top draft pick Mirco Mueller may be ready to play in San Jose, although he'll only be 19. Sharks' scouting director Tim Burke was quoted in the "Future Watch" issue of The Hockey News, that it was "50-50" that Mueller would with the big club in 2014-15 (h/t NBC Bay Area).
Taylor Doherty is 6'8" and 235 pounds. Like most larger players, he needed a little more time to reach his potential. He has pretty good mobility for a man of his size.
Another possible addition is goalie Harri Sateri, who narrowly lost the battle to be Antti Niemi's backup in camp this past fall. If Alex Stalock leaves and/or Niemi is traded, a spot could open up for Sateri.
Projected 2014-15 Depth Chart
- Antti Niemi
- Harri Sateri
- Marc-Edouard Vlasic
- Jason Demers
- Matt Irwin
- Justin Braun
- Mirco Mueller
- Brad Stuart
- Taylor Doherty
- Joe Thornton
- Joe Pavelski
- Brent Burns
- Matt Nieto
- Logan Couture
- Patrick Marleau
- Tomas Hertl
- Tommy Wingels
- Raffi Torres
- James Sheppard
- Andrew Desjardins
- Freddie Hamilton
- Tyler Kennedy
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