The offseason has been long, very long for Sharks fans. But, the wait is finally over… almost! The last time the Sharks played a game was on March 11th, a 6-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. But, that’s a thing of the past. Let’s get ready for this season, shall we?
The Sharks made some moves this offseason trading for goalie Devan Dubnyk from the Minnesota Wild for a fifth round pick in the 2022 draft. They also acquired forward Ryan Donato in a seprate trade with the Wild, giving away a third round pick.
In free agency, the Sharks were able to resign Kevin Labanc and bring back Patrick Marleau once again. The other notable free agents that signed with San Jose are Stefan Noesen and Matt Nieto. In simple terms, the Sharks offseason was uneventful for the most part.
The Sharks have a tough opening stretch to start off the season. Due to COVID-19 restrictions in the Santa Clara County, there is chance the Sharks will have to play their home games elsewhere. With that being said, the season starts in Arizona on January 14th. This is the first of an eight game road trip to start the season. Yes, San Jose opens up with an eight game road trip.
The first home game isn’t until February 1st against the Vegas Golden Knights. Again, there’s a chance that this game isn’t even played in San Jose. So what are the options for the Sharks this year for where they can play their home games?
The Sharks could make the trip to Los Angeles and share the ice with the Kings, or make a trip down to Arizona (where they held training camp) and share the ice with the Coyotes.
So what can fans expect on the ice this year? Well, fans sadly will no longer see Joe Thornton. Thornton took his talents to Toronto in the offseason hoping to win one more championship before he retires. Good luck with that Joe!
As for everyone else, it’ll be a rough start. It’s been awhile since the players have played a meaningful game. But, expect to see leadership from Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson. With Thornton gone, there is a giant hole to fill in leadership. Don’t expect Logan Couture to take on that responsibility. If anything, it’ll be both Burns and Karlsson.
Last season before the season got cut short, Burns had 12 goals and 33 assists. Don’t expect to see 33 assists. Expect more. Other than being a great defenceman, he sets up goals. It’s what he does best. Burns needs to step up in a leadership role this year, now that big Joe is gone.
Then, there’s Karlsson, the other gem of the Sharks defencemen. His only issue is that he he cannot stay healthy. However, in an injury riddled shortened season, Karlsson managed to score six goals and have 34 assists. Just like Burns, expect Karlsson’s numbers to go up this season.
A dark horse player everyone should keep their eyes on this year is Tomas Hertl. Hertl only played in 48 games last year netting 16 goals and 20 assists. Expect him to take his game to the next level this year. Hertl is a young explosive player who can score. Last season’s seasons numbers don’t do him justice. It shouldn’t be surpirisng if at the end of the season, Hertl is the team leader in goals this year.
So, with all of that being said, it will be an up and down year for San Jose. But, fans get excited, the Sharks are finally back. Who knows, maybe with the new format for this year, the Sharks could be this year’s surprise team. Welcome back Sharks, the fans missed you.