After falling short again in the Western Conference Finals for the second straight year, the question arises as to how the San Jose Sharks can climb over the hurdle and win their first ever Stanley Cup.
The Sharks still have plenty of talent with stars like Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Joe Thorton, but even with their stars it still feels as if the Sharks are missing that one crucial piece.
San Jose has had a pretty good offseason acquiring Jim Vandermeer, Brent Burns, Colin White and Matin Havlat. However, they did lose Devin Setoguchi, Ben Eager, Ian White and Dany Heatly.
One of the keys for the Sharks' offseason was improving the defense. They went out and added Jim Vandermeer, Brent Burns and Colin White to take care of that.
Matin Havlat is a solid left wing player that scored a total of 62 points in 2010 with Minnesota. In 2010, only four Sharks players recorded more points than Havalt.
Dany Heatly was one of the Sharks players with more than 62 points in 2010 with 64, although right wing Ryane Clowe will fill in for Heatly very well. Clowe had 62 points in 2010.
When looking at the Sharks in 2011, it appears that this team is better than the team last year. How much better is yet to be seen.
There still appears to be a missing piece on the Sharks. The defense is improved, although the team appears a bit thin at right wing.
Ryan Clowe will be the obvious starter at right wing, but backing him up is up for grabs. The Sharks have a great amount of depth at centre and a trade could help them greatly. The Sharks top three stars of Marleau, Thorton and Pavelski all play centre. Marleau was greatly criticized during the playoffs and would get a nice trade return for the Sharks.
Marleau has been with the Sharks since the 1997-1998 season and is unlikely to get dealt.
27-year-old Alexander Semin of the Washington Capitals will be a free agent after the 2011-2012 season and would be a solid fit for the Sharks at right wing, if they could trade for him.
He would give them an extremely capable scorer as he put up 28 goals in 2010. His situation in Washington is not the best and he could turn San Jose into a Stanley Cup winning team.
In terms of defense, Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart would be an awesome addition to the Sharks roster. He is a force at the back since he is very physical. However, it is unlikely that Detroit would trade him and rumors are that the Red Wings will re-sign him after the 2011 season is over.
The options are out there for the Sharks to make improvements. The only question will be, will they do anything to improve the team?
San Jose is still at top three team in the Western Conference with their current roster, but after falling short the past few years, they need to get over the Conference Finals hurdle.
This team is very experienced as they have won the Pacific division in each of the past four seasons. Anything short of a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2011 would be seen as a failure.