San Jose had some questions to fill heading into free agency, but Doug Wilson appears to have answered many of them as team teal prepares for next season.
Obviously, that wasn’t the case as general manager Doug Wilson was busy making a couple of moves to bolster this team teal roster.
By signing David Schlemko and Mikkel Boedker, the Sharks look like a much deeper team than they did heading into the free-agent period. It’s funny to think how much of a difference two players can make for the outlook of a team, but that’s certainly the case in San Jose for the second-straight summer.
With Schlemko and Boedker now in the fold, let’s take a look at the new projected outlook for San Jose as they head into next season:
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Tomas Hertl
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier – Patrick Marleau – Melker Karlsson
Tommy Wingels – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Obviously, the dynamic of the Sharks forwards lines changes with Boedker coming in. He can slot on the wing on any of the top three lines so Peter DeBoer will have some interesting decisions to make with his lineup.
But, after assessing the talent Wilson has assembled, it will be a good problem to have for DeBoer. I figure he will keep the top line in tact since they were so dominant at the end of last season.
After that, the real fun begins. Couture and Donskoi developed a nice rapport last year so adding some speed on that line with Boedker would seem to make sense. Marleau could also slot back there, but his ability to play center would make him a likely candidate to slot into the third-line role.
Even with the Boedker addition, I have a gut feeling that Meier will make this team and beginning with a third-line role alongside a veteran like Marleau could be a good place to start.
The two players that could be on the outside looking in are Wingels and Matt Nieto, who still doesn’t have a new deal. Even if Nieto is resigned, he will struggle to keep youngsters like Barclay Goodrow and Nikolay Goldobin from taking his roster spot with the Sharks.
Regardless, team teal has a plethora of options up front which should set up some intriguing battles during training camp.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
San Jose needed to add another piece to their defensive corps and that’s exactly what Wilson did in bringing in Schlemko. He’s well-aware of the Western Conference after spending a majority of his career with the Arizona Coyotes.
He’s a capable, puck-moving blue liner who can slide anywhere on the back end for the Sharks. He averaged a career-high in ice time and will likely begin on the third-pair in San Jose, but he’s someone I could see taking some of the workload off a guy like Paul Martin as the season wears on to help keep Martin fresh for the critical junctures of the year.
While DeMelo still hasn’t agreed to a new deal, he’s much more certain in my mind to return in teal than Nieto as DeMelo showed plenty of promise in his rookie year with the Sharks.
After a stellar opening campaign in teal, San Jose is clearly set with their goaltender of the future in Jones.
The bigger question heading into free agency was whether Wilson was going to make a move for a proven NHL backup who could feature in around 20 games for team teal next season. After the two big signings, it appears the Sharks are going to begin the year with Dell as their primary backup after he recently inked a new two-year deal.
According to General Fanager, San Jose has just $2.380M in cap space at the moment so it’s highly unlikely they bring in a goaltender at this juncture unless they make a trade.
That means the Sharks are counting on Dell or, to a lesser extent, Troy Grosenick to be able to fulfill the backup role with team teal. While that is certainly a gamble, giving their young players an opportunity to prove themselves might not be a bad idea. If they can’t handle the added responsibility, Wilson will have to find someone via trade during midseason.
Regardless, this is a San Jose team that is in an even stronger position today than they were at the end of the season. This appears to be a very deep Sharks squad that has the look of another Cup contender when the puck drops this fall.