San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson recently announced to the media that his team would be "rebuilding" in the coming season.
When asked to explain what he meant by "rebuild," Wilson told NHL.com's Eric Gilmore, "We now become a tomorrow team...Now a tomorrow team, is it one year, two years? Time will tell on how our young players handle the responsibility given to them but also making sure we don't give it to them too soon."
Fans in San Jose need not worry that their team will be having a fire sale anytime soon. The Sharks are not about to become the next Edmonton Oilers, a team that is constantly picking early in the draft and bases itself solely on a team full of young talent.
But Wilson seemed to come to a realization about his team the way it is presently constructed: They've gotten as far as they're going to get in the postseason. In the long run, changes are needed. The Sharks are not going to rip the team apart, but they are looking to make changes to fortify the foundation and make another run at that elusive Stanley Cup title.
Wilson put it succinctly when he told Gilmore, "We know that we haven't accomplished what we want to accomplish."
Right now, the Sharks are built around captain Joe Thornton and ex-captain Patrick Marleau. That probably won't be the case in another year. Both players may remain on the roster, but they will likely have to accept a reduced role if they decide to stay in San Jose.
"It's all the veteran guys," Wilson explained. "If a guy's 31 or 32 or 33, and we're going to rebuild, does it fit for them? It might not. ... The rebuild is going to take place regardless. We're committed to it and whatever things we need to do to get to that point."
The organization has already parted ways with veteran defenseman Dan Boyle, who was traded to the New York Islanders. They are also expected to buy out forward Martin Havlat in the next several days if they cannot find a workable trade for him.
Wilson also re-signed goalie Alex Stalock to a two-year extension earlier this week. Stalock is expected to compete with Antti Niemi for the No. 1 goaltending spot.
The Sharks have three picks in the first two rounds of this year's draft. The goal is to continue to build through youth. That includes players already on the roster like Tomas Hertl, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Matt Nieto and Logan Couture and prospects like the highly rated Mirco Mueller.
The Sharks will add more draft picks this year and next and emphasize their younger players.
"We have 16 picks for a reason," Wilson told Gilmore. "We didn't trade our first-round pick last year, we're not trading it this year and we're not trading it next year and probably the year after. That's the phase we're in."
The goal is to get over that final hurdle and be more successful in the playoffs, not just in the regular season. The Sharks may be "rebuilding," but they should remain competitive while they do it, even in the tough Pacific Division.
Wilson gave his reasoning in a conference call with media members, per the team's website:
We’ve had seven or eight 100-point seasons. We’ve had three final four appearances. We’ve had 20 playoff rounds. That all sounds nice, and the players and coaches deserve credit for that. But we have not got to where we need to get to. I think to do that, you have to take one step backward to be in a position to go two steps forward.
The Sharks were just one game away from eliminating the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in the opening round of the playoffs. But they failed spectacularly when they lost a 3-0 series lead. Management recognizes his team needs to change. Even if it means a short-term struggle, this is what Wilson feels his team needs to do to take that final step.
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