Grading the Sharks’ 5 Biggest Offseason Moves


The NHL offseason can really feel like a chaotic rush. Teams are continually making signings and trades, deciding the place to ship key prospects, and getting their rosters into focus for the upcoming season. Even a crew that didn’t make tons of strikes, corresponding to the San Jose Sharks, might be tough to investigate. The 2023-24 lineup appears very totally different from final season’s, and particular person transactions can disappear from view because of this. But now that the offseason is winding down, and San Jose appears to be carried out making strikes, we are able to all take a breath and break them down one after the other. Here are 5 key choices they made in the offseason, analyzed and graded.

Signing Kyle Burroughs

The longest contract San Jose gave out this offseason was the three-year, $3.3 million deal for former Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kyle Burroughs. Signing a participant like him tracks with the franchise’s bigger plans. The Sharks have struggled defensively over the previous few seasons, a few of which might be attributed to rosters heavy on defensemen who had been expert on offense however not as robust on the different aspect of the ice. Burroughs is a defensive-minded blueliner who’s actually able to serving to the Sharks decrease their objectives allowed totals.

Kyle Burroughs, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The query marks round the signing relate to Burroughs’ lack of NHL expertise. Although he’s 28 years previous and has been enjoying skilled hockey for nearly a decade, he has appeared in simply 95 NHL video games. The Sharks are relying on him to play a a lot bigger function than he has performed in his profession to this point. Asking a participant with fewer than 100 video games of NHL expertise to be a high defensive defenseman is a large threat.

Thankfully for the Sharks, their standing as a rebuilding franchise will permit Burroughs to develop, play by means of errors, and proper his unfavorable tendencies corresponding to his frequent journeys to the penalty field. In whole, Burroughs and San Jose seem to be a strong match.

Final Grade: B

Signing Mackenzie Blackwood

While Burroughs could have obtained the Sharks’ longest contract, the most costly went to goalie Mackenzie Blackwood’s two-year, $4.7 million deal. In a vacuum, the transfer makes loads of sense for either side. He was one among the high goalie prospects at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and was chosen in the second spherical by the New Jersey Devils. Although he was their main goaltender from 2019 to 2021, his numbers have taken a pointy decline over the previous few seasons and he fell out of favor with the Devils, relegated to a third-string function. He clearly wanted a change of surroundings as he entered restricted free company, and the Sharks wanted goalies. San Jose may afford to usher in a goalie like Blackwood, who may want time to regain his footing as he tries to show his profession round. They additionally made a logical transfer by buying and selling for his negotiating rights before signing him.

Mackenzie Blackwood New Jersey Devils
Mackenzie Blackwood, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In the context of the Sharks’ bigger goalie image, nonetheless, the transfer is a bit much less of a positive factor. In the post-Martin Jones period, their netminders have been a continuing stream of stopgap measures — Devan Dubnyk, Josef Korenar, Adin Hill, James Reimer and Kaapo Kahkonen, to call a couple of. Of them, solely Korenar ever felt like a possible everlasting resolution, and even that didn’t final very lengthy. Given that Blackwood has spent extra of his profession as a backup than a starter, this deal may simply turn into yet one more instance of the Sharks kicking the goaltending can down the street.

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The success of the Blackwood signing will largely be decided by whether or not or not he finally falls into this class. If he turns into the starter in internet for a number of seasons — which actually may occur — then the transfer clearly turns into a wild success. Until then, it’s sadly too simple to see him as extra goalie filler.

Final Grade: B-

Trading for Anthony Duclair

The Sharks made their first notable commerce of the offseason after they dealt Steven Lorentz and a fifth-round decide to the Florida Panthers in trade for ahead Anthony Duclair.

While hardly a blockbuster, this was a terrific commerce for the Sharks because of the quantity of flexibility it offers them. Duclair is on an expiring contract, and has expertise that would make him enticing to contending groups at the commerce deadline. On the different hand, his journeyman standing means he could also be in search of a extra everlasting residence, and San Jose can undoubtedly present that. But whether or not he will get flipped for property or stays with the Sharks for a number of seasons, he can have a sneakily important influence on the way forward for the franchise.

Related: Sharks Already Preparing for 2024 Trade Deadline

While it was tough to half with Lorentz and his enhancing potential as a checking ahead, bringing in Duclair is a transparent win for San Jose.

Final Grade: A-

Signing Filip Zadina

After a lot deliberation over his potential vacation spot, Filip Zadina signed with San Jose in July on a one-year deal. While a number of fanbases wished their groups to take a flier on the former extremely touted prospect, the Sharks snagged him, and in the course of made their finest transfer of the total offseason.

Zadina struggled to reside as much as expectations as a member of the Detroit Red Wings, and now will get an opportunity to reset his profession in San Jose. He gained’t face practically the similar quantity of stress he did in Detroit, and will likely be given the freedom to develop his recreation and see if he can discover the talent that made him the sixth total draft decide in 2018.

From San Jose’s perspective, the Sharks can provide him a lot of enjoying time to make their very own evaluations of him. Not solely is the deal for only one season, nevertheless it additionally ends with Zadina coming into restricted free company, giving the crew loads of management over his subsequent contract. If he returns to his top-prospect kind, the Sharks could make him a key a part of the future, and if he doesn’t, they will merely write it off as an unsuccessful however worthwhile experiment.

The Sharks had been the good crew for Zadina, and Zadina was the good participant for the Sharks. Thankfully, they teamed up for an ideal deal.

Final Grade: A

Trading Erik Karlsson

The Sharks made their ultimate and largest notable transaction of the offseason by dealing Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a three-team trade that additionally concerned the Montreal Canadiens.

Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Sharks’ return haul in the commerce was strong, nevertheless it comes with some uncertainties. They obtained three gamers and a 2024 first-round decide, but additionally retained simply 13 p.c of Karlsson’s wage when some pundits anticipated them to retain 25 and even 50 p.c of the contract. Essentially, Sharks normal supervisor Mike Grier had a alternative: tackle extra of Karlsson’s contract and acquire extra property, or shed extra wage and get fewer property. He selected the latter route.

While this determination is comprehensible given San Jose’s latest cap crunch, it signifies that the Karlsson commerce’s success is basically but to be written. The Sharks now have an additional $10 million in cap house for every of the subsequent 4 seasons and should spend it correctly. A commerce that gives a crew with a bunch of yet-to-be-spent cash can’t be given a terrific grade or a poor grade.

So whereas it’s simple to want that the Sharks had added extra property, the cap house they obtained may repay in a giant approach if the entrance workplace makes the proper strikes.

Final Grade: B

Sharks Gearing Up for the Future

All 5 of those strikes have one factor in widespread: they had been made to not win in 2023-24, however a couple of seasons from now.

The Sharks are conscious that they’re not able to contend this season and even subsequent. Instead, they’re utilizing signings and trades to put the groundwork for a future through which they return to the contending ways in which made them one among the league’s premier franchises for therefore lengthy.

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