Tomas Hertl

What is the Sharks’ long-term outlook?

With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the long-term outlook for the San Jose Sharks.

Pending Free Agents

The Core

The San Jose Sharks had a strong core for years that helped lead to consistent playoff appearances over the last decade. But general manager Doug Wilson is looking for the next crop of players to usher in a new era of hockey in San Jose. Joe Thornton and Brent Burns are still around but the organization is relying on Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Erik Karlsson and others to lead the franchise for the foreseeable future.

The Sharks stumbled this season through the first 70 games and currently sit at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. San Jose will not even be rewarded with a top draft pick due to the trade with the Ottawa Senators for Karlsson in September of 2018.

Thornton entertained the idea of waiving his no-movement clause at the NHL Trade Deadline if a true contender wanted to acquire the savvy centerman. There was a lack of interest but if Thornton is interested in chasing the Stanley Cup next season, there is a strong chance he will not be back in the Bay Area.

Despite the horrific season in San Jose, there is still plenty of talent on the roster. Timo Meier led the team in points with 49, Evander Kane was closing in on a 30-goal season and Karlsson still had 34 assists in only 56 games. In addition, Couture and Hertl missed time with injuries and should provide further offensive firepower.

Long-Term Needs

The most glaring weakness for the Sharks has been their play between the pipes. Martin Jones had a sub .900 save percentage and a 3.00 goals against average. The 30-year-old goaltender still has four additional years remaining on his contract and will be a difficult asset to move via trade.

San Jose also has significant cap space tied up in several long-term contracts and has to solve problems from within. Between Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Karlsson, the Sharks have more than $26 million committed through 2024-25.

Looking at the forward group, Couture, Kane, Meier, Hertl all have lengthy contracts and Kevin Labanc will need a new deal after taking an extraordinarily team-friendly agreement last summer. Similar to every NHL team, Wilson and his staff need to find the right pieces at a bargain price to fill out the roster.

Long-Term Strengths

The Sharks have taken great pride in building a culture that allows players to thrive. Thornton was a key figure in building the foundation, but he has passed on the characteristics of a strong locker room to his teammates.

Trade acquisitions are able to seamlessly fit in both on and off the ice while young players looking to earn their stripes at the professional level feel comfortable right from the beginning.

While Thornton could switch uniforms in the upcoming offseason, it will be up to Couture, Burns and others to make sure that culture isn’t lost.

The Sharks struggled mightily with the departure of Joe Pavelski this past summer but are too skilled to have a second straight dreadful season. If their play in net can improve, and key players can remain healthy, the Sharks could bounce back next season.

MORE ON THE SHARKS
• Looking at the 2019-20 San Jose Sharks
• Sharks biggest surprises and disappointments so far


Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Should Sharks stick with Boughner, who’s ‘planning on being back’ as head coach?

Should Sharks keep Bob Boughner as head coach?
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The “pause” to the 2019-20 NHL season leaves a destroyed sweater’s worth of loose threads, and one of them involves whether the Sharks will keep Bob Boughner around as head coach.

One of the few obvious answers is that … yes, Boughner is hoping he can keep the gig. He told The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz as much in a piece that’s absolutely worth your time (sub required).

“I feel good about it,” Boughner said. “I think that given a fair chance, that I’m the guy for this team. And I think Doug believes that, from what I know. I don’t want to speak for him, but I’m planning on being back, I’m planning on putting a plan in place for next year, and trying to look forward.”

Grading Boughner as interim head coach

If you look at pure standings results, the impact has been negligible.

The Sharks languished with a 15-16-2 record over 33 games when they fired Peter DeBoer in December. In 37 games under Boughner, the Sharks remain mediocre (14-20-3), and actually saw their points percentage drop (.485 to .419).

Naturally, this is where it’s fair to repeat Boughner’s phrase of a “fair chance.”

For one thing, the Sharks had to feel bummed out that they played poorly enough to get DeBoer fired. Some might have believed that this season was over, which already stacks the deck a bit against an interim head coach.

Boughner also suffered through some personnel challenges. Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl both suffered significant injuries in January, while the Sharks had to pull the plug on Erik Karlsson‘s season in February. Subtract more players from the mix during the trade deadline, and you could argue Boughner never had a “full deck.”

If you look at Natural Stat Trick, you can see improvements in advanced stats under Boughner. The Sharks look more formidable from expected goals standpoints, for example. Boughner mentioned that during his interview with Kurz, actually.

“We did a really good job of bringing the high-end scoring chances down, not giving up as much and creating more at the other end,” Boughner said. “I’m not saying that’s related to more goals scored or anything like that, but the chances that we were producing, our possession time, we were better defending off the rush. Things like that. So, analytically, I thought there were a lot of improvements made. Those are really your foundations of your system and what’s working and what’s not. There were some good things happening behind the scenes.”

Context counts

Still, not every sign was positive.

It’s understandable that Boughner would lean more on Brent Burns. After all, he was a) coaching for a job and b) dealing with injuries to the team’s defense.

Even so, it’s tough to stomach the Sharks handing a heavier burden to a 33-year-old who they were better off keeping fresh. That’s what happened with Burns, who averaged 24:31 TOI under DeBoer, and then 26:12 per night with Boughner.

My general takeaway is that Boughner getting another “fair” crack at an NHL head coaching job is understandable. The Sharks just don’t seem like that right opportunity, because their window is closing — and that’s assuming 2019-20 was a bump in the road, not the window already being shut.

If this is your last real shot, does Boughner have the steadiest aim? Maybe in a shallower pond than the Sharks will be swimming in.

Sharks have rich group of coaches to choose from

For all we know, Boughner is the best option for the Sharks. That said, the job market presents Wilson with a wealth of unusually strong alternatives.

  • Bruce Boudreau strikes me as the best choice of all.

To start, it would just be thematic fun. Boudreau is the “coach who couldn’t win the big one” who would take on a team that’s been a regular contender but couldn’t get over the hump. C’mon, that’s already pretty fun.

He’s also versatile. Boudreau went from the high-flying Capitals to adjusting on the fly in Anaheim to clamping down to helping the Wild suffocate opponents on defense. The Sharks’ roster presents a challenge between risk and reserve in a defense-focused league, but if anyone can find the balance, it’s Boudreau.

  • Gerard Gallant would obviously be fun, too.

How surreal and yet hockey would it be if the two coaches in that wild Game 7 ended up swapping teams? Peter DeBoer is already on the Golden Knights’ bench, so what about Gallant in San Jose?

  • Peter Laviolette might be a decent fit.
  • Wilson is bold enough to hire Mike Babcock, too.

The more you look at that list, the more you wonder if Boughner … well, has a “fair chance” to keep his gig as Sharks head coach.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

My Favorite Goal: Hertl recalls Goodrow’s Game 7 overtime-winner for Sharks

My Favorite Goal Goodrow's Game 7 OT winner Sharks Hertl
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Welcome to “My Favorite Goal,” a regular feature from NBC Sports where our writers, personalities and NHL players remember the goals that have meant the most to them. These goals have left a lasting impression and there’s a story behind each one.

In today’s edition, Tomas Hertl beams about Barclay Goodrow scoring the Game 7 overtime-winner for the Sharks against the Golden Knights, capping a wild end to that first-round series from the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs:

As with all of the goals from this feature, there are a ton of remarkable details. Goodrow had mostly been planted to the Sharks’ bench during this Game 7. After the Sharks made a stunning, controversial, and rule-changing comeback, Goodrow finally got his chance, and nailed it.

With a lot of these entries, we marvel at how much changed from decades ago.

It hasn’t even been a year since Goodrow’s Game 7 OT goal, yet you can marvel at the changes that have occurred since:

Pretty stunning, and yet it takes nothing away from Goodrow’s Game 7 OT goal.

You can check out previous “My Favorite Goal” entries here.

My Favorite Goal: Sakic helps end Canada’s Olympic gold drought

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Welcome to “My Favorite Goal,” a regular feature from NBC Sports where our writers, personalities and NHL players remember the goals that have meant the most to them. These goals have left a lasting impression and there’s a story behind each one.

Today, PHT’s Joey Alfieri remembers Joe Sakic’s goal that sealed Canada’s win in the 2002 Olympic gold medal game.

It might be easy for some to forget now, but Canada went through an Olympic gold medal drought that lasted 50 years. Sure, NHLers weren’t allowed in the Olympics throughout most of that slump, but it was a big deal when I was growing up. Let me add a little background to my international hockey obsession.

As a youngster growing up in Montreal, Quebec, the first international tournament I really remember paying close attention to was the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan. At the time, I was eight years old and I remember sitting on my couch watching the  Canada-Czech Republic semifinal with those hockey cards you could cut out from behind the Kraft Dinner macaroni and cheese boxes (anyone else remember those things?). In one hand, I had a Patrick Roy card and in the other, I had a Dominik Hasek card.

Of course, both goalies were going head-to-head that day, which is why I had those cards close by. When Hasek stopped Brendan Shanahan on Canada’s final shootout attempt, I was in shambles. I remember my family trying to console me, but there was nothing anyone could say that to take the pain of losing to the Czechs go away in that moment.

I look back on that moment now and realize the heartbreak I suffered took my passion for the sport to another level. It was the first time I was really heartbroken over a single hockey moment.

I was so distraught that I tore my Hasek and Roy cards to pieces. I was furious at Hasek for winning, I was heartbroken that Roy didn’t make one more save. It was terrible. I’ll never forget Hasek leaping into the air repeatedly seconds after that game ended.

Anyway, let’s fast-forward to 2002.

You have to keep in mind that my love for international hockey intensified year after year leading up to the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. There was more heartbreak between the 1998 Olympic loss and the 2002 triumph though.

During those years, I began following the World Junior Championship closely and it just so happened that Canada failed to win the tournament every year between 1998 and 2005. My frustration with Hockey Canada was pretty high heading into that 2002 tournament.

I remember head coach Pat Quinn announcing that Curtis Joseph would be his starting goaltender heading into the tournament. I recall not being a fan of that move (keep in mind, I was 12-year-old living in Martin Brodeur’s hometown).

So, Canada opened the tournament with a 5-2 loss to Team Sweden. The Swedes were loaded with talent, but I was still stunned. It’s not the way I expected the Canadians to open the tournament. The confidence in my team, which probably took four years to develop, was gone in one night.

But Canada ended up switching from Joseph to Brodeur and they managed to beat Germany 3-2 in their second game. The Canadians then tied the Czechs in their final round robin game. Throughout this entire opening round, I never allowed myself to think that they had a legitimate chance at gold. After all, I was just trying to avoid the same sting I felt last time.

So, the knockout portion of the tournament comes and Canada beats Finland 2-1 in the quarter-final, and then they take out Belarus, who shocked Sweden, rather easily (7-1) in the semi-final.

It’s Canada and Team USA in the final for all the marbles.

Sunday, Feb. 24, 2002. It’s a day I’ll never forget. Like every fan, I was nervous. And I was sick and tired of hearing about this 50-year gold medal drought everyone was talking about.

The game starts, and Tony Amonte opens the scoring for the Americans. Here we go again. The Canadians respond with two goals from Paul Kariya and Jarome Iginla before the end of the first frame and Canada goes into the intermission with a 2-1 lead. I’m just a kid, but I’m a wreck. The intermissions felt like they lasted a lifetime.

Brian Rafalski ties the game in the second period, but Joe Sakic puts Canada up by a goal late in the second period.

20 minutes to go.

The Canadians were nursing that one-goal lead for most of the final period. With every great American chance, I was getting more and more antsy. Finally, Iginla scored his second goal of the game with four minutes remaining to give Canada a two-goal edge. I was ecstatic, but I still wanted to hold off celebrating.

But then it happened.

It’s a goal call that I’ll never forget by my favorite play-by-play announcer, Bob Cole.

Canada trying to hang on. They get a break. It’s gonna be a break. It is Joe Sakic…scores! Jiiiiiiiiooooo Sakic scores! And that makes it 5-2 for Canada. Surely, that’s gotta be it!

I’ll never forget the way Cole said Sakic’s full name after that puck crossed the goal line. It was perfect. What a moment.

Finally, I realized that the ridiculous drought I had been hearing about for weeks was about to become a thing of the past.

Even though Sakic’s goal wasn’t the game-winner or anything like that, it symbolized so much more to me. It was the final nail in Team USA’s coffin and it made the 1998 heartbreak hurt a lot less.

“As a kid growing up in Canada, you dream of playing in the NHL, winning a Stanley Cup, and one day wearing a Team Canada jersey,” Sakic told Olympic.ca. “Having the chance to play for my country at the Olympics, and especially winning a gold medal in Salt Lake City, was an amazing and memorable experience I’ll always cherish.”

Most Canadians never get to represent their country on the international stage, but Sakic’s goal made every hockey fan in the nation feel like something special. As Canadians, we’re supposed to be good at hockey. For a long while, it didn’t feel that way. But that day in February, one man’s goal changed everything.

PREVIOUSLY ON MY FAVORITE GOAL:
Darren McCarty shows off goal-scoring hands during 1997 Cup Final
Alex Ovechkin scores ‘The Goal’ as a rookie
Marek Malik’s stunning shootout winner
Paul Henderson scores for Canada
Tomas Hertl goes between-the-legs
Borschevsky’s goal sealed with a kiss
Bolland clinches Cup for Blackhawks 17 seconds later
Stoll completes Kings’ upset over Canucks

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Sharks’ Erik Karlsson out for season with broken thumb

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson will miss the rest of the season after breaking the thumb on his left hand in Friday’s game at Winnipeg.

The team made the announcement Saturday before San Jose was set to play at Minnesota, a 2-0 win. The Sharks also lost forward Evander Kane to a three-game suspension for elbowing Jets defenseman Neal Pionk in Friday’s game.

Karlsson, 29, had six goals and led the team with 34 assists and 40 points after signing an eight-year, $92 million extension last June. He played 56 games in his second season with San Jose. The two-time Norris Trophy winner also missed 27 of the Sharks’ final 33 games last season.

The team announced Karlsson will have surgery and is expected to be recovered in time for training camp in September. San Jose recalled defenseman Jake Middleton from the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League.

“Tough news,” Sharks interim coach Bob Boughner said before Saturday’s game. “Obviously we’re dealing with many injuries already, and it’s just another one that piles up. Our leading scorer, with our other two leading scorers already out. It’s a tough injury, it’s more adversity for our club. We’ve done a decent job of battling through that adversity, competing and sticking together as a team, and it’s going to have to be the same way tonight.”

Kane’s suspension was announced by the league’s department of player safety. He will forfeit $112,900 that will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. He tweeted his frustrations over the ban Saturday.

“The fact the NHL Department of Player Safety headed by George Parros continue to pick and choose, who and what they suspend is ridiculous!” Kane tweeted, in part. “There have been countless incidents of the same nature through this season and past seasons that have gone unsuspended or fined. No one person can tell you what is or isn’t a suspension in today’s game, it’s become a complete guess.”

San Jose already has lost Tomas Hertl for the season with a knee injury and Logan Couture missed his 13th game on Saturday due to a broken left ankle.