PHT’south “What Went Wrong?” serial asks that question about teams who’ve been eliminated from the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Why did this squad fall short, and how surprising was that fall? Are there signs that things might go right adjacent season? This series tackles those questions, and more. In the latest edition of “What Went Wrong?,” PHT breaks down the 2021-22 San Jose Sharks.
Read through enough of these “What Went Wrong?” features, and you lot may become fluent in failures. You may even identify “flavors.”
With teams similar the Sabres and Red Wings, there’s the bitter of the nowadays with a hope for a sugariness future. There are the mystery flavors of the collapsing Canadiens and a Ducks team that started potent, then went sour.
And then at that place are the teams who make you wonder if they take tastebuds at all. The 2021-22 Flyers and Sharks send similar letters. Rather than embracing a rebuild, teams similar the Sharks continue to swear by their current recipe.
That’s not an ideal formula when you’ve missed the playoffs three seasons in a row, and in each instance, by a mile.
2021-22 Sharks: Not even close
No incertitude, it would have been uncomfortable to trade a player as gifted every bit Tomas Hertl. Yet, by adding withal another long-term risk to what was already a heap of questionable contracts, it’s fair to wonder if the Sharks learned from 2021-22, and other recent failures.
Now, certain, the Sharks began the 2021-22 season on a college annotation than anticipated. If annihilation, that really just highlights how far this franchise has fallen. Even in a weak Pacific Division, the Sharks weren’t even close to a playoff berth in 2021-22.
By April 6, the Sharks were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. That’s more than three weeks before their final regular season game (April 29 vs. the Kraken).
Are there scenarios where things could have worked out better? Sure, merely yous’d really be heedless if you gave them too much time. For the future, ane of the scarier things well-nigh the 2021-22 Sharks is how much went right.
2021-22 Sharks tin just blame so much on bad luck
These things went San Jose’southward way, and may non work out quite and so well again.
- There’due south a potent hazard that i or both of the Aureate Knights and Canucks volition be sturdier side by side flavor. The 2021-22 season may have been the best window for the Sharks to swipe something similar the third spot in the Pacific Division
- The good news is that Brent Burns and especially Erik Karlsson rebounded to some extent. The bad news is that information technology’southward unclear if they’ll maintain already-compromised level of play. Karlsson’s “an old 31,” being that he’s dealt with a slew of lower-body injuries. Somehow, Brent Burns is already 37.
- Tomas Hertl’due south been peachy … after a couple years where injuries dragged him down, from a mainstream perspective. As fantastic as he is, this season marks simply his 2nd lx+ point season … in fact, it’due south also just his 2nd
point season. While Hertl is a prime example of points not existence everything, it’s as well plausible that the Sharks signed him at the peak of his value. Betwixt injuries and regression, Hertl could slip a bit — he’s already 28.
- Speaking of wildly underrated Sharks forwards breaking through, Timo Meier recorded his 2d-career xxx+ goal season (33) and already easily set a career-loftier with 73 points. His second-best yr was 66 points in 2018-19. 3rd-best: 49 points, otherwise a couple of 30+ point campaigns.
To be articulate, this isn’t Hertl and Meier bashing; they’re really skillful.
[What went incorrect for the Montreal Canadiens]
Information technology’s just that the 2021-22 Sharks enjoyed the all-time years of their careers … and however missed the playoffs past a mile. Seems like a bad sign.
- Logan Couture also treated the Sharks to a respectable rebound.
- The 2021-22 Sharks couldn’t even really blame goaltending for their failures. Despite the very modest investment of a James Reimer – Adin Hill duo, San Jose received goaltending that was basically at the NHL boilerplate level. Based on Hockey Viz’s expected goals model, they allowed fewer goals than expected.
With career years from rising stars, rebounds from expensive veterans, and fifty-fifty good bang-for-your-cadet in net, the 2021-22 Sharks still missed the playoffs by a wide margin, and endured a -45 goal differential.
Not certain at that place’s much hither that screams “continue the gang together.”
(Yous’d need to project William Eklund equally, say, Superman to retrieve there’s much help coming.)
Information technology may not be Boughner’s fault, just Sharks merely have so many options if they won’t rebuild
For all that went right for the 2021-22 Sharks, permit’south be honest: they still
Check this Evolving Hockey Squad RAPM nautical chart, and you’ll note that they couldn’t even really capitalize on an unexpectedly constructive penalisation kill.
This brings us to a tough question: how much of this is on Sharks head charabanc Bob Boughner?
Equally with virtually teams, it’s not especially like shooting fish in a barrel to divide team results from coaching impacts. This isn’t the NFL, where an obsessive coach can watch 100 hours of video a week, sleep in their office every night, and will a mediocre roster to the playoffs.
That said, we’ve seen some transformations around the NHL. Whatever’s in the hole-and-corner sauce with coaches like Darryl Sutter and Bruce Boudreau, their teams took off one time they took over.
Could a truthful departure-making coach turn the Sharks into a dominant 5-on-5 squad? Look upwardly and down that roster, and it’s difficult to imagine San Jose playing shutdown, Barry Trotz-mode hockey. Yet, with salary cap limitations and what seems like a refusal to truly rebuild, the Sharks might need to throw a Hail Mary and hope some coach tin make a feast with flawed ingredients.
Call information technology hockey’s answer toChopped.
(On that note, perhaps the real key is to merely brand it entertaining?)
Sharks offseason preview: the rebuild may only happen for their forepart function
After Doug Wilson’s resignation, the Sharks need a new GM. If the Sharks wanted to sellsome
kind of more immediate modify, a caput coaching tweak may be in order. Apparently, these choices could create ripple furnishings throughout the roster and the front office.
There are rumblings that the Sharks aren’t in a rush to rent a new GM, and that the search could extend through the offseason.
To some extent, it’s wise to find the best candidate(due south) possible. Yet, even if you ignore the perchance wise thought to change the Sharks’ head coach, this team should explore some tough questions during the offseason.
Timo Meier: Hertl state of affairs echo? Try to trade who yous tin can? And other Sharks offseason questions
Even before the 2021-22 flavour and the Tomas Hertl extension, a Sharks rebuild looked hard because of the already-imposing stack of long-term contracts.
With the Tomas Hertl extension, some might feel that the Sharks are kind of stuck. Cap Friendly estimates the Sharks’ cap space at about $9.68 million, with eighteen roster spots covered. Most immediately, they’d demand to brand decisions, including possible contracts for RFAs Kaapo Kähkönen and Mario Ferraro.
Frankly, the bigger determination is one that could exist put off. What should the Sharks do with Timo Meier?
Meier, 25, will see his $6M cap hitting expire later on the 2022-23 season. He’s a pending RFA, and who has mediation rights.
In several ways, Meier parallels Tomas Hertl. A contending squad could easily justify extending Meier, much like Hertl, risks and all.
But the Sharks? Despite backing themselves into a corner over and over again, the Sharks might be wise to trade Meier to assist (cough) bound-start a rebuild.
[Meanwhile, the rival Anaheim Ducks wait low-cal years ahead of the Sharks]
Theoretically, a Meier trade could exist just part of a rebuild-focused Sharks offseason. Consider a few options:
- Again, information technology’due south kind of hard to believe that Brent Burns is already 37, but he is. His $8M cap hit runs through 2024-25. There may never be a meliorate time to merchandise Brent Burns.
- Logan Couture’due south another sneaky-sometime Sharks player at 33, and his $8M cap hit goes through 2026-27. Also similar Burns, Couture’due south contract features a list of just3
teams he’d accept a trade to. That’due south where a larger message of a Sharks rebuild could aid. If Burns and Couture (understandably) wouldn’t want to be part of a rebuild, mayhap they’d be more flexible with their merchandise lists? Comfortable or not, the Sharks need to be having these types of conversations.
- Should the Sharks buy out Marc-Edouard Vlasic, fifty-fifty if it would just provide limited savings?
A possible Meier merchandise and that bulleted list could make your caput spin, and that’s just a sense of taste of what the Sharks are up against. (Once more, they must also answer firsthand questions, like what to do with Kähkönen.)
Overall, the Sharks await like one of the biggest messes in the NHL, especially if a prospective GM had footling room to rebuild. After the 2021-22 season, it would help if the Sharks at least acknowledged the mess for what it is.
James O’Brien is a writer forPro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports
. Drop him a line at
firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter@cyclelikesedins.