The Sharks best players will be older by 2019-20 and the kids need to step up in a major way if they are going to keep pace in the Pacific Division.
Welcome to 2020 Vision, our new feature taking a look at how the roster of each NHL team may look three seasons from now when the 2019-2020 season begins.
Over the next month we’ll profile one team, in alphabetical order, each day and project what their roster (12 forwards, six defensemen, two goalies) will look like.
There were some ground rules for this exercise. We didn’t allow any blockbuster trades or free agent signings, but we did make assumptions about teams re-signing their own UFAs and RFAs.
Therefore, this isn’t intended to be a fantasy-like look at the league in 2019-20. Instead, since this is part of the THN Future Watch family, it’s meant to be a realistic, best-case-scenario projection for each team based on players already under contract, and prospects in their system.
The change has already begun in San Jose and you really will need a program to know the roster come 2019-20. Because there are many aging veterans that will not likely be with the Sharks by that time. Joe Thornton is already on one-year contracts and buddy Patrick Marleau decamped for Toronto. Paul Martin will be 38 when his contract runs out in 2019, while Mikkel Boedker will likely be traded before his deal ends.
That means a lot of opportunity for youth, but also a likely step back from the NHL’s top tier for the Sharks. The team will still have an impressive back end thanks to Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (whether they reunite as a pairing is hard to gauge right now), while Martin Jones gives them an ace in net. Based on the long-term contracts recently handed out to those three, it’s pretty obvious GM Doug Wilson knows where his strengths will be in the future.
GOT IT: With Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski, the Sharks will still have two excellent centers. Dylan Gambrell probably deserves to be higher on the depth chart, but he’ll still be young and climbing the ladder. He’s actually a center and Timo Meier is a right winger, but the Sharks have too many of those and not enough left wingers as of now, so shifts had to be made. This group can score, while players like Noah Rod and Chris Tierney will bring the lunchpails.
NEED IT: On top of natural left wingers, the Sharks essentially need prospects to establish themselves in the coming years. Meier, Rod, Julius Bergman, even Danny O’Regan all must prove they can hang for 82 games and contribute at the NHL level.
CAP WATCH: Thornton is probably gone by 2020, but even if he sticks around, it won’t be for his current $8 million stipend. That opens up room for Couture and Pavelski, both of whom will need new contracts in the summer of 2019. With Burns and Vlasic already slated to make $15 million combined, the Sharks will have to be careful with how they spend their money.
BOTTOM LINE: Years of drafting in the back end of the first round and trading futures for deadline veterans has put San Jose in a precarious place. Their best players are older and the kids need to step up in a major way if the Sharks are going to keep pace in the Pacific Division.
Previously: Anaheim Ducks | Arizona Coyotes | Boston Bruins | Buffalo Sabres | Calgary Flames | Carolina Hurricanes | Chicago Blackhawks | Colorado Avalanche | Columbus Blue Jackets | Dallas Stars | Detroit Red Wings | Edmonton Oilers | Florida Panthers | Los Angeles Kings | Minnesota Wild | Montreal Canadiens | Nashville Predators | New Jersey Devils | New York Islanders | New York Rangers | Ottawa Senators | Philadelphia Flyers | Pittsburgh Penguins | St. Louis Blues
Monday: Tampa Bay Lightning