Melker Karlsson

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.

Sharks re-sign Karlsson: two years, $3.25 million

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The San Jose Sharks have re-upped with one of their few bright spots from last season, Melker Karlsson.

Karlsson has agreed to a two-year, $3.25 million extension that carries a $1.625M average annual cap hit — a nice bump from the $825,000 he made last year.

The 24-year-old Swede, who came to North America last year after spending all of his professional career in his native country, finished the season with 13 goals and 24 points in 53 games. Karlsson also averaged 15:26 TOI per night, this after starting the year with AHL Worcester (where he had 10 points in 20 games).

As mentioned above, Karlsson’s performance was one of the rare positives in an otherwise negative campaign for the Sharks. The club failed to make the playoffs for the first time in over a decade but Karlsson, plucked from SHL club Skelleftea, showed some real promise and a goalscoring touch that could benefit San Jose moving forward.

Sharks sign Finnish scorer Donskoi

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The San Jose Sharks have agreed to terms with Finnish forward Joonas Donskoi, per Sports Consulting Group agent Scott Bartlett.

It’s a two-year pact, with Finnish news outlet Ilta-Sanomat reporting an average annual value of $925,000.

Donskoi, 23, is coming off a banner 2014-15 campaign in which he scored 49 points in 58 games for SM-liiga club Karpat, then captured the Jari Kurri Trophy as playoff MVP.

A former Florida draftee (99th overall, 2010), Donskoi followed up his successful season with Karpat by scoring eight points in eight games for Finland at the World Hockey Championships. Donskoi finished third on the team in scoring, three back of Florida’s Jussi Jokinen.

This is the second young veteran San Jose has scooped out of Europe in as many years. Last summer, the club did very well in getting Swedish forward Melker Karlsson out of SHL club side Skelleftea; Karlsson went on to have a solid freshman campaign for the Sharks, scoring 13 goals and 24 points in 53 games.

Video: Heavy hitting continues between Sharks and Kings

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Might need a few ice packs after this game at Levi’s Stadium. The heavy hitting has been a constant theme between the L.A. Kings and San Jose Sharks throughout the evening.

Take, for instance, this massive collision between Robyn Regehr and Melker Karlsson late in the second period. That’s a rather large run-in with the boards. Karlsson was shaken up but continued to battle with Regehr as the shift continued.

The two teams had combined for more than 70 hits into the third period.

 

The Sharks are shaking up their lines

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With just two wins in their last nine, the San Jose Sharks are shaking up their lines for tonight’s game in Dallas.

From CSN Bay Area:

Against the Stars, indications are Logan Couture will center Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels on the (top?) line, while Joe Thornton skates between Patrick Marleau and Melker Karlsson on another line. Tyler Kennedy will get bumped up to a third line role with center James Sheppard and Matt Nieto, while rookie Chris Tierney will be between Tomas Hertl and Andrew Desjardins on the fourth line.

Couture has spent most of the season skating with Marleau, while Thornton has most often been with Pavelski.

Of the four, it’s Marleau the Sharks could use more from. The 35-year-old has just 11 goals in 59 games. He finished last season with 33 goals.

Five-on-five, Marleau and Thornton haven’t skated regularly together since 2011-12.

Related: Sharks risking ‘national embarrassment’ in outdoor game: columnist