Nash gone, what's next for Sharks?

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Nash gone, what's next for Sharks?

The Rick Nash saga is over, ending on Monday when he was traded by the Blue Jackets to the New York Rangers for a moderate-at-best return of Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first round pick.
RELATED: Jackets trade Nash to Rangers

Its not all that surprising when you consider the report here last week that the Sharks and Blue Jackets hadnt spoken in months about the winger, who had San Jose on his list of acceptable destinations. Columbus insisted on Logan Couture, the Sharks said no, and that was that. The Rangers appeared to be the only viable option the Blue Jackets had left.

So what happens now for San Jose?

The most likely answer may benothing major. At least for now.

Those hoping Doug Wilson would play the role of Ty Pennington and give the roster an extreme makeover are probably a bit disappointed at the moment despite some nice moves by the club this offseason. The Sharks were able to trade for and sign veteran d-man Brad Stuart; brought in a pair of veteran assistant coaches, including the highly respected Larry Robinson; added some personality and grit with forward Adam Burish; and locked up young and improving defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to a long-term deal at a very reasonable price.

Still, a core group that hasnt been able to take that necessary extra step to the Stanley Cup Final, remains. And, in fact, the Sharks took a pretty big step backwards in 2011-12 with an inconsistent regular season and first round defeat to the St. Louis Blues, who were then swept in the second round by Los Angeles.

While there are some big name forwards left in the free agenttrade market Shane Doan, Alex Semin and Bobby Ryan are at the top of the list dont expect San Jose to be in the running for any of those players.

The unrestricted free agent Doan has already made it be known his preference is to stay in Phoenix, and has reportedly given former Sharks executive Greg Jamison until Friday to see if he can make some more progress or get close to finalizing the sale, according to the Phoenix Business Journal (via ProHockeyTalk.com). Doan has already visited with the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, and as of Tuesday, had no other visits scheduled.

Furthermore, after snagging Nash, the Rangers seem much closer to a Stanley Cup than do the Sharks. Doan is undoubtedly looking for a team that has a chance to win it all, and the Rangers may now be the preseason favorites after making it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals last year.

As for Semin, also unrestricted and a former 40-goal scorer just three seasons ago, he simply wouldnt be a good fit in the Sharks locker room even if they were willing to dish out the likely 5-6 million per season that would be necessary to sign him. Wilson has already said he would like to change the Sharks identity next season and see his team play a more aggressive style.

In fact, the day they signed Burish, Wilson said: Were trying to re-establish our identity of going at people, and playing that way.

Semin wouldnt help in that regard, and the fact he hasnt seemed to generate all that much interest around the league this late in free agency, suggests that the questions about his desire to win may be valid.

Turning to Ryan, who has been on the block for what seems like forever now, Ducks GM Bob Murray would never trade him to a division rival, and his hometown of Philadelphia is probably Ryans likeliest destination at this point if he gets moved.

As for the rest of the trade market, the Sharks dont have many options there, either. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Brent Burns, Marty Havlat and Michal Handzus all have some form of a no-trade clause, while Dan Boyles limited no-trade clause kicked in on July 1. The remaining players that are fair game, at least among the forwards, are the kind of players that the Sharks would probably not have any interest in moving. Joe Pavelski is coming off of a career-high in goals with 31 and has a cap-friendly hit of just 4 million over the next two seasons, while Ryane Clowe, despite a down year last year, is still among the teams more vocal leaders in the locker room and embodies that "go after them" style that Wilson is talking about more than anyone else.

It was reported last week by CBCs Elliotte Friedman that Boyles name is generating some interest around the league, but moving Boyle wouldnt seem to make much sense for the Sharks as we discussed here a few weeks ago. Sure, hes at the back end of his career and has a hefty 6.67 million price tag for the next two seasons, but the 36-year-old blueliner was arguably the Sharks best defenseman in the second half of last year and helped to quarterback the second-ranked power play in the NHL.

Collective bargaining agreement questions are also likely to quell any more big paychecks from San Jose, which was one of the few teams after the previous lockout with the room to acquire a hefty contract like Thorntons from Boston. Its very possible the Sharks will give their current group one more shot at it this season before exploring the UFA or trade market more aggressively in 2013, when other teams may be looking to shed salary to fit under what may be a much lower cap.

In other words, if youre waiting for that big summer splash it could be a year away.

Sharks win 'ugly' vs Avs as they fight through brutal schedule

Sharks win 'ugly' vs Avs as they fight through brutal schedule

SAN JOSE – Playing their fifth game in eight days thanks to the condensed (some would say foolish) NHL schedule this season, perhaps it’s not all that surprising that the Sharks looked like they hit a wall on Saturday night at home against Colorado.

Still, this was the Avalanche, who have been far and away the NHL’s worst team for the past six weeks. Even a subpar effort should be enough.

And, it was. The Sharks got a power play goal by Joel Ward and another from their fourth line, while David Schlemko pounced on a rebound in overtime to push the Sharks to a 3-2 win.

It was an uninspiring victory, but a victory nonetheless.

“Two points is what was the important thing,” Ward said. “It wasn't our best, but we found a way."

Joe Pavelski said: “We had some moments where we were good. Some that we could have been better. It’s a game right now that you’ve got to really stick to your foundation, because there’s a lot of games in a lot of nights here.”

Coach Pete DeBoer, who has skillfully managed his veteran team’s rest since taking over at the start of last season, wasn’t all that critical of the Sharks’ effort, either, even though they made life far too easy on rookie goalie Spencer Martin making his NHL debut.

To DeBoer, the Sharks may be in the midst of their toughest stretch of games on the calendar. By the time they host the Oilers on Thursday in the final game before the All-Star break, San Jose will have played seven games in just an 11-day span.

“I feel the fatigue, and I haven't played a game. I'm just coaching,” he said. “We found a way to win. It was ugly, but we found a way."

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect from the Sharks’ perspective is that their fourth line continues to make an impact, scoring a goal for the third straight game. Ryan Carpenter got on the scoresheet for the second straight, floating a puck towards the net that was redirected by Melker Karlsson. It gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead with five minutes to go in the second period.

“I think we fit pretty good together,” Karlsson said of playing with Carpenter. “Good centerman, good guy. It’s fun.”

Pavelski said: “You can see [the fourth line is] playing with confidence. They’re playing hard. They’re in on a lot of pucks, and giving us energy that way, and they’re getting rewarded.”

The game-winner was a simple one from Schlemko’s perspective. He hopped over the boards, slithered towards the crease, and stickhandled in a Logan Couture rebound for his second goal of the season.

“The rebound came right to me and I just had to tap in,” Schlemko said. “I’ll take those any day.”

While the Sharks were fighting through some physical and mental sluggishness, Colorado looked better than a team that hasn’t won a regulation game in a month and a half. Playing in front of a goalie making his first NHL start likely had something to do with that, as they tried to give Martin an honest effort.

Nathan MacKinnon was particularly effective, generating a game-high seven shots and setting up Colorado’s first score. Just before that goal that was finished off by Mikhail Grigorenko, MacKinnon breezed through the neutral zone untouched, and Pavelski mentioned that area of the game as a troublesome one for his club.

“Whether they were good in the neutral zone or we weren’t as sharp – that wasn’t a very strong point of our game, I don’t think. Turned over a few too many pucks,” he said.

The Sharks will have a better idea of what to expect headed into Monday’s rematch in Denver. Whether they have their legs back by then is uncertain.

“It was hard from an energy point of view for us today,” DeBoer said.

Instant Replay: Schlemko's OT goal lifts Sharks past Avs

Instant Replay: Schlemko's OT goal lifts Sharks past Avs

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – David Schlemko’s overtime goal gave the Sharks a 3-2 win over Colorado on Saturday at SAP Center.

Trailing 2-1 after two, the Avalanche tied it midway through the third period. Some sloppy play by the Sharks’ top line led to Francois Beauchemin powering in a slap shot through Martin Jones at 10:24.

San Jose got the extra point in the standings, though, when Schlemko found a Logan Couture rebound at 1:18 of overtime. It was his second of the season.

The Sharks’ won their fourth straight, and sixth out of their last eight (6-2-0). Colorado lost its fifth in a row, and is just 2-15-0 in its last 17. The Avalanche have not won in regulation since Dec. 11 at Toronto.

The teams conclude their home-and-home in Denver on Monday. The Avalanche are the only Central Division team that the Sharks play just twice this season.

The Sharks opened the scoring on the power play in the first period. Vlasic swung the puck down low to Joe Thornton, who found Joel Ward in front at 5:36.

Colorado tied it in the second, courtesy of Mikhail Grigorenko. After Nathan MacKinnon sped through the neutral zone past Brent Burns, he cut to the net and pushed it towards the goal crease, where deflected to Grigorenko’s stick for an easy tap in at 10:30.

Another goal by the fourth line put the Sharks back on top. Ryan Carpenter, playing in his third straight game since getting recalled earlier in the week, had time and space in the faceoff circle to direct a shot towards the net. Linemate Melker Karlsson got his stick blade on it, redirecting it through Spencer Martin at 15:01.

It marked the third straight game that a Sharks fourth liner has scored, including Carpenter’s goal against Tampa Bay on Thursday and Tommy Wingels’ score in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

San Jose improved to 19-3-0 in its last 22 home games against Colorado, and 6-1-1 in the last eight meetings overall.

Colorado fell to 5-1 in overtime. The Sharks are 5-2.

Special teams:
San Jose scored a power play goal for the third time in the last four games, finishing 1-for-3. It was Ward’s first goal with a man advantage this season.

The Sharks were not shorthanded for the duration of a game for the first time this season.

In goal:
Jones had struggled in the first game back after taking the previous one off, going just 1-5-0 with a 2.85 goals-against average and .890 save percentage. He made 31 saves

Martin was making his NHL debut, and allowed three goals on 30 shots. The former third round pick in 2013 was recalled due to starter Semyon Varlamov’s groin injury. In 27 games for AHL San Antonio, he is 15-9-2 with a 2.62 GAA and .915 SP.

Lineup:
Matt Nieto was playing his first game as a visitor. He was claimed by the Avalanche on Jan. 5 after getting waived by San Jose, and finished with two shots on goal.

Timo Meier missed his second straight game, and is day-to-day with an upper body injury.

Up next:
The Sharks have just three games left before the All-Star break next weekend. After Monday’s game in Colorado, their only visit to Pepsi Center this season, they visit the Jets on Tuesday and host the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.