With a refreshed prospect pool, a new general manager and head coach, and the free agency period quieting down, the San Jose Sharks are preparing to enter the 2022-23 NHL season. The past few seasons have not been kind to them, and it led management to try and refresh the roster with some new faces and even some old ones. Now that the hockey offseason has reached its dullest point, it is time to look at what the Sharks have put together and what it means for the upcoming season.
Sharks Big-Name Prospects Begin to Graduate
Undoubtedly one of the most exciting things to come out of a new season is the emergence of rookies. In the Sharks’ case, William Eklund and Thomas Bordeleau will likely make their way to the NHL full-time. Fans were able to get brief glimpses of these two in a few games last year, but both looked primed to begin their NHL careers in the 2022-23 season.
In the short time Eklund played in the NHL, he exemplified his serious playmaking abilities. He spent time playing with Thomas Hertl and Johnathan Dahlen, and that line helped the Sharks get off to a hot start to the season. However, the line was broken up when the Sharks sent Eklund back to the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) to spend another year developing. While his numbers were not page-popping last year, another year of growth should help him get into his groove to start the season.
Bordeleau joined the Sharks at the end of the season, and he was no joke either. Most famously, he scored the shootout winner that completed a comeback against the Vegas Golden Knights right before the playoffs, marking the second time the Golden Knights gave up too many late-period goals against the Sharks in a serious game. With his offensive talents added, the team will be in a much better position to light the lamp throughout the season.
Sharks Core Ready to Rebound
As of now, the Sharks have made it clear that big names like Timo Meier and Hertl are staying in San Jose. With that in mind, they will look for the remainder of the core to step up and try to find their game again. Under newly appointed head coach David Quinn, players like Logan Couture and Erik Karlsson will be expected to try and defy the aging process.
Couture’s goal-scoring abilities have been consistent throughout his career, but his assists have dropped off as the team around him lost talent. However, with new, young players around him, his point totals could rebound to the level they were at during the 2018-19 season. His contract ends in the 2026-27 season, so the Sharks need to do everything in their power to keep him in his prime for as long as possible.
Karlsson will likely be in the same boat. He had a decent year last season, but he is still far from earning his $11.5 million-per-year contract. His goal-scoring abilities have dropped off, but the real dagger is how hard his assist totals have fallen; he went from 40 to 50 assist seasons to only 20 to 30. If the new roster changes can rejuvenate the offense, Karlsson could take advantage and bring his career back on track.
The Sharks’ Plethora of Goaltenders
James Reimer was arguably the brightest part of the 2021-22 season, as he consistently provided reliable goaltending for the Sharks for the entire year. While many expected him to get dealt at the trade deadline, he stuck around. Now, the pressure will be higher than ever for Reimer to maintain those incredible numbers. However, the Sharks have plenty of options to fall back on if he slips.
Adin Hill, Kaapo Kahkonen, and potentially Strauss Mann could all find their way to the starting crease as the season progresses, as each goalie is relatively young with a decent amount of promise. Mann, being the youngest of the three, is the best shot the Sharks have at finding a reliable starter for the future. However, Hill and Kahkonen will also get their chance to earn the starting position between the pipes.
Realistically, this season could go in any direction. The team could mesh together perfectly and become a playoff contender once again, or everything could fall apart, and the Sharks could be pushing for Connor Bedard. However, even if the team performs worse than they did in 2021-22, fans should be more hopeful for the future than before. Things are beginning to fall into place. With the right moves, San Jose might be able to cheer for their team in the playoffs sooner rather than later.
Andrew Stille is a freelance writer for THW who is currently studying Journalism and Communication in college. In addition, he’s a devoted NHL content creator looking to grow and learn daily. Andrew is a trustworthy source for everything San Jose Sharks-related and strives to create fun and exciting articles for all readers.
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