The San Jose Sharks have some major house cleaning to do in the offseason. After what will be another disappointing exit in the playoffs. Is it time for the Sharks to rebuild after finishing the past two seasons with the best record in the Western Conference?
At this point the answer to that question is a no, but there are players that the Sharks need to get rid of and there are some players the Sharks need to keep. Against Chicago the Sharks showed exactly what there issues are lack of scoring depth, lack of defense, lack of aggressiveness, and bad mistakes.
Addressing the lack of scoring first. In the series Patrick Marleau has scored five goals against Chicago out of the total of seven the Sharks have scored. That's 71 percent of the goals scored for the Sharks.
Jason Demers and Logan Couture are the only other Sharks to score a goal in the series.
That means this offseason the team must address. Adding Dany Heatley in the offseason didn't help in the playoffs. Joe Thornton is his usual self. Joe Palveski after his torrid start of the playoffs has disappeared, Ryane Clowe is nowhere to be found, and Dan Boyle hasn't been effective offensively.
What should the Sharks do in order to improve the offense? The first thing the Sharks need to do is trade Joe Thornton. He's one of the best playmakers in the league in the regular season and there will be teams that will love to have him.
In order for the Sharks to benefit the most from a trade is that they need to bring in an offensive minded defensemen and another scorer in a trade with Thornton.
Danny Heatley has all but disappeared in the playoffs. Part of that was due to an injury that happened in the Colorado series. The Sharks need to keep Heatley because he is not at 100 percent right now.
There's a lingering question about if this will be the last season in San Jose for Marleau, but with the way he has played against the Blackhawks with five goals, including a short-handed goal, he needs to be re-signed—there's no question about it.
Joe Pavleski, with his series in Colorado, proved what he can do once he gets into a zone. He tied his career high this season with 25 goals and with him moving up with a trade of Thornton he could become that much more dangerous centering a line with Heatley and Marleau.
Devin Setoguchi needs to stay as well. Among the better goal scorers on the team he offers the best speed besides Marleau.
Logan Couture, Torrie Mitchell, and Dwight Helminen need to spend time with the Sharks. In the Colorado series Helminen played extremely well and it was disappointing that the Sharks did not put him in the lineup especially after losing the first two games to the Blackhawks. Couture looks promising, and Mitchell offers speed that the Sharks lack.
Another Shark that needs to be traded is Ryane Clowe. He had a career high in points this year with 57, but hasn't made a mark in the playoffs. The Sharks could use Clowe as trade bait in a Thornton trade or in a separate trade, but they again could use him to acquire a defensemen.
As mentioned previously the Sharks need to bring in another defenseman that has offensive capabilities. Three sharks defensemen really have their job secure rookie Jason Demers who has shown he could be an offensive force, Dan Boyle, and Douglas Murray.
Rob Blake needs to retire his unforced errors are getting old. Mark-Edouard Vlasic can be used as trade bait as well. Niclas Wallin needs to go as well hardly an impressive pickup at the trade deadline this year. Vlasic and Wallin can be used in trades for the Sharks. Kent Huskins needs to be released he doesn't offer anything defensively.
Against the Blackhawks the Sharks defense flat out stunk. A majority of the goals scored were because of the lack of effort and miscues by the defense. Instead of making the play to get the puck out of the zone, they'd keep it for too long and have the puck taken away.
Since the Sharks were not able to clear the puck out of the zone it many cases it made Evgeni Nabokov have to work hard. When the goalie is pretty much the only defense being offered, that's not a good sign for a team and it pretty much explains why the Sharks got swept by the Blackhawks.
This goals along with my last point. The Sharks mistakes hurt them. In the third period of today's game Heatley took a slashing penalty, which led to the game-winning goal. In game three Logan Couture took a slashing penalty which led to a Blackhawks goal.
In that game as well when the Blackhawks got the game winning goal the Sharks were too busy trying to be cute with the puck that it allowed for the Blackhawks to easily get the puck back get it to the middle of the ice for and another easy goal for the Blackhawks.
Nabokov on the play was busy trying to see what the Sharks defensemen were going to do behind the net and instead of getting the puck and shooting it out, the Blackhawks forced a turnover and that's how they managed to score.
There is some blame to go on Nabokov because in that game he did let in a soft short handed goal. In game two he let in a long soft shot as well, but most of the blame goes squarely on the defense.
Nabokov is still one of the best goalies in the NHL there is no reason for the Sharks not to extend his contract for another couple of years. What the Sharks must do though is not play him nearly every game during the season, so Thomas Greiss can be groomed to succeed him.
In other words for the Sharks to have a successful 2010-2011 season the Sharks need to trade Thornton, trade Clowe, trade Vlasic, let Blake retire, release Huskins, and release Wallin.
What the Sharks get in return for these trades are a center to anchor the second line as Pavelski moves up to the first line, offensive minded defensemen that have the ability to squeeze in, and utilize some of the youth the Sharks have specifically in Demers, Helminen, and Couture.