Nash gone, what's next for Sharks?


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 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' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic will compete in the upcoming IIHF World Championships for Team Canada, it was announced on Friday.

The tournament runs from May 5-21 in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany. 

Vlasic, 30, a native of Montreal, has played in the tournament twice before in 2009 and 2012. He also represented Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games, helping it to a gold medal, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which Canada also captured.

In 75 games with the Sharks this season, Vlasic posted 28 points (6g, 22a) and a +4 rating. He was second on the team in shorthanded time on ice (2:04 per game) and blocked shots (146).

A pending restricted free agent in 2018, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson called getting Vlasic signed to a long-term deal an offseason priority for the club. The two sides can begin negotiations on July 1.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” Wilson said. “[He] is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

The Sharks lost in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to Edmonton, although Vlasic and partner Justin Braun helped to keep Connor McDavid in check at even strength. The league's leading scorer had just one even strength point in the six-game series, an empty net goal with less than one second left in Game 6.

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

SAN JOSE – The Sharks didn’t make any blockbuster moves last summer, content to make another run in 2016-17 with largely the same group that came within two wins of capturing the Stanley Cup.

They still acquired a notable player, though, when Mikkel Boedker was signed on July 1 to add an element that the Sharks knew they needed more of moving forward – speed. Boedker was expected to make the team faster, after the Sharks were exposed for not having enough of that against Pittsburgh in the NHL’s final round, as well as play in a top six role. 

At the time, it was hailed as a slick, under-the-radar move that wasn’t going to change the dynamic of the club but could help push it over the top.

When Boedker was a healthy scratch in games three and four of the first round against Edmonton, the evidence became clear, though, that this was a decision that fell flat on its face. 

Frankly, Boedker – who is signed for three more years with a $4 million salary cap hit – brings back visions of Sharks bust Marty Havlat. You know the skill is there, but the desire to use it on a nightly basis while showing any semblance of a battle level is lacking. 

Should the Sharks give Boedker another chance next season, or should they do everything in their power to try and move him? That’s a question that will likely be debated in the front office over the next several weeks.

On get-away day on Monday, indications were that the Sharks were planning on sticking with the 27-year-old, who finished with 26 points in the regular season (10g, 16a) and added one goal and one assist in four games in the playoffs.

“He has the things we’re looking for: his career scoring average, his speed, [penalty killing] ability,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “Did he meet the expectations that he had for himself [or] that we had for him? No. Can we get that out of him? Pete [DeBoer] believes we can.”

DeBoer has known Boedker since he played for him in 2007-08 in Kitchener (OHL). Despite scratching him in the playoffs, DeBoer said he saw “huge improvement” in Boedker throughout the course of the season after the forward spent nearly all of his NHL career in Arizona.

“There was an adjustment. He’s played 6-7 years a certain way in the NHL,” DeBoer said. “We’ve asked him to play differently here, and there was an adjustment.”

Boedker still believes that he can be a fit in San Jose.

“I think it will be and it can be,” he said. “It’s learning period, but you’ve also got to look in the mirror yourself and see what you can change and what assets you need to bring. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m ready to do that.”

The list of Sharks depth forwads that had frustrating seasons hardly begins and ends with Boedker, though.

Veteran Joel Ward’s production dipped from 43 points last season to 29 in 2016-17, although that probably isn’t too surprising considering he’s 36. Tomas Hertl is proving to be a streaky player, too, although his season was interrupted by another a knee injury.

The bigger disappointment came from players like Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, who both made big impressions in the 2016 playoffs but struggled to produce consistent offense this year. Both were mentioned by name by DeBoer on Monday.

There are some promising youngsters in the pipeline like Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen, but it’s still too early to project any of them as can’t-miss scorers at the NHL level.

“I think we’ve got a large group of guys that I like, but need to step up,” DeBoer said. “Is Sorensen [like] Donskoi next year, where he takes a step back, or [does he take a] step forward? We’ve got a lot of guys that there’s a lot of potential there – Chris Tierney. 

“There’s a lot of those guys, but they need to have big summers and take a step, and show that they’re not just one season or one month players.”