With the summer blockbuster acquisition of EK65, the San Jose Sharks carried a loaded defensive core during the 2018-2019 campaign. While superstars shined and faltered, unsung heroes emerged to round out their depth on the blueline.
Let’s take a stroll back in time to the 2018 off-season. General manager Doug Wilson and the San Jose Sharks put their chips on the table to land John Tavares.
However the all-star center decided to return home to the Toronto Maple Leafs, having Team Teal yet again strike out via free agency. In spite of this result did not steer away the ambitions of the Sharks front office. They quickly reassembled and set their eyes on a bigger fish out on the market.
Wilson worked his magic, and reeled in all-star defensive phenom Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators, completing the biggest blockbuster splash of the summer and making the Sharks serious Stanley Cup contenders.
Adding Karlsson to their arsenal along with Brent Burns, the explosive, offensive-minded sniper, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, the stay-at-home defensive specialist gave the Sharks a three-headed monster on defense to unleash on the rest of the NHL.
But looking beyond the tremendous trio, Brendan Dillon surprised the teal faithful with an uplifting and spirited campaign, taking his game up to another level in stride.
Rookie blueliner Radim Simek was a pleasant surprise, playing heavy minutes alongside Burns as the top D-line pairing for a major chunk of the regular season.
At full strength, the Sharks’ defensive pairings proved daunting and overwhelming, executing exceptionally well in all three zones of the ice and rising to the occasion when their goaltending mustered shaky outings.
Despite the boatload of speed, strength and skill, it was the injuries that derailed the Sharks as the season progressed. Karlsson’s groin issues, Simek’s knee injury and the wear and tear all season long was a burden. Nevertheless, San Jose battled and put all of their heart on the ice all the way til’ the end of the line.
With all of that being said was this defensive group the best in the past decade? Let’s put pen to paper and hand out the report cards to the Sharks blueline.