When hockey fans hear the word “rebuild,” they usually think of a team like the Edmonton Oilers. Haven’t made the playoffs since 2006. Three first overall picks in a row from 2010 to 2012. The plan in Edmonton was to be bad, and rebuild a winner through the draft. It hasn’t quite worked out that way, but that was the plan.
That’s not the plan in San Jose, according to general manager Doug Wilson. But make no mistake, the Sharks are still rebuilding.
“I can understand when people say there are different types of rebuild,” Wilson told the Mercury News. “We’re not going to finish last to try and draft people first or second. This is not something this franchise can do, because we already have some good players in key positions. You’re not going to see us with 50 points next year — we’re too good a team for that.”
Instead, Wilson says the Sharks need to rebuild their culture and become a more tightly knit group — a plan that includes giving more leadership and team-building responsibilities to young players like Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun.
Where that leaves veterans Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau is, of course, the big question. Both have no-movement clauses and don’t want to leave San Jose, where they’re under contract through 2016-17. But Wilson has made it clear — perhaps in an attempt to convince them to accept a trade — that they’re not priorities anymore.
“The rebuild is committed to,” Wilson said in June. “The players that fit for now and the future, their growth is going to be the primary thing.”