San Jose Offseason: 5 Steps to Bring Stanley to the Shark Tank
During the offseason, every team experiences changes that help or hurt their team, and every team has questions that need to be answered.
Whether it's injured players, possible retirements or contracts coming to an end, every team has decisions to make on how to improve during the offseason in order to bring home Lord Stanley.
For the San Jose Sharks, the Stanley Cup is like a $20 bill on a string. The first time it gets pulled out of reach isn't a big deal, but after they keep on chasing and it keeps getting pulled away, people begin to laugh. With that in mind, here are five steps for the Sharks to bring Lord Stanley to San Jose.
1. Improve the Defense
Defense has been San Jose's Achilles Heel for years.
After falling short in 2010, Sharks fans and staff sought out for a scapegoat and found it in Evgeni Nabakov. Nabakov wasn't re-signed, and the Sharks instead enlisted the services of both Antero Niittymaki and Antti Niemi.
While Niemi had a remarkable postseason performance, the Sharks only made it one game further than they did in 2010 after nearly blowing a three-game lead to the Red Wings and missing the Western Conference Finals completely. They certainly weren't lacking in offensive production, but their defense, as usual, looked subpar to Stanley Cup standards.
Adding an above-average defender would certainly be a start to improving the blue line.
2. Renovate the Penalty Kill
Other than the Blackhawks and the Coyotes, who both exited the playoffs in the first round, the Sharks had the worst penalty kill percentage of any playoff team.
This can likely be fixed by improving their defense, as was mentioned earlier, and it is something that desperately needs to be fixed. The fact of the matter is killing less than 80 percent of your penalties won't take you to the Stanley Cup.
3. Re-Sign Ian White
Are you noticing a theme here? Everything seems to revolve around San Jose defense, or lack thereof.
White was a brilliant pickup by the Sharks in mid-February. After joining the club, he logged 10 points in just 23 games, and he got even better in the playoffs, logging nine points in 17 games.
At the age of 27, Ian White's best days are still ahead of him, and if he comes at a relatively low cap hit, he could be a brilliant signing for the Sharks.
4. Show Up in the Postseason
San Jose's two highest-paid forwards in Dany Heatley and Joe Thornton combined for just 26 points in the postseason, while playing 36 games. That's roughly 0.72 PPG.
Compare that to the top two of their postseason rivals, the Red Wings. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg combined for 23 points in 18 games, which is roughly 1.28 PPG at a lower cap hit.
This isn't something new in San Jose, as Joe Thornton has been criticized in previous years for failing to show up in the postseason. The fact of the matter is, if the Sharks want to win a Cup, Jumbo Joe and Dany Heatley must show up when it matters.
5. Trade Patrick Marleau
Notice I didn't mention him when I said the Sharks stars need to show up when it matters. That's because if the Sharks want to win, Patrick Marleau can't be there.
This is a combination of the Sharks needing cap room to fill in gaping defensive holes and also because Marleau is a perfect example of lacking consistency and effort.
After failing to put up any points in the first six games against Detroit, Jeremy Roenick was asked if he believed Marleau was playing hurt, to which Roenick responded "Yes," while gesturing towards his heart. Whether you like JR or not, he made a fair assessment of Marleau's play.
The situation right now is that, with a cap increase to $62 million, the Sharks will have just $11 million to sign six forwards and two defenders. Moving Marleau could fill some of those holes while dumping his $6.9 million salary.
Furthermore, the move could open the door for the Sharks to sign a high-profile defensive free agent like James Wisniewski, or they could trade Marleau for a restricted free agent like Zach Bogosian.
Regardless of how they figure it out, trading Patrick Marleau will be difficult considering his no-movement clause, but it's a necessary task in the Sharks' quest for the Cup.