Sharks mailbag: Did team need another forward?

Sharks mailbag: Did team need another forward?
April 8, 2014, 10:45 am
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Logan Couture is one of four Sharks with 20 or more goals this year. (USATSI)

Editor's note: Sharks Insider Kevin Kurz answers your questions in his latest Sharks Mailbag. You can post questions to him on his Facebook page. A quick dip into the mailbag in the final week of the regular season...

Ultimately, will the Sharks lack of action at the trade deadline come back to haunt them? (Jeff Cairns)

It’s important to keep in mind that the Sharks were up against the salary cap at the trade deadline. They really had no room to add another body without moving another player or players out, and considering the numerous no-trade clauses on the roster, that was unlikely.

But, it sure looks like this team could have used another veteran forward up front now that it’s pretty apparent Raffi Torres came back too early. There was some validity to the Devin Setoguchi rumor, but ultimately the team decided he wouldn’t have fit its identity, and it wasn’t worth altering the roster to bring him in. Still, Setoguchi might have been a decent replacement for Joe Pavelski on the Joe Thornton line, allowing Pavelski to move back to his third line center position. Setoguchi had some success playing with the captain earlier in his career, and might have been re-energized from a reunion with some of his old pals.

[REPORT: Sharks interested in bringing back Setoguchi]

What are they doing differently this year to ensure a better playoff run? #SJSharks (cory peterson @upgradetoqueen)

When you look at this year’s roster, the two players that were supposed to make it different than seasons past –- Tomas Hertl and Torres -– have played a total of five games in 2014, all by Torres. If this team is going to make a deep run, it probably needs both of those players back, and at least close to full strength, at some point.

Signs point to them both getting healthier, and I believe Torres will be back shortly, perhaps as soon as Wednesday in Anaheim. Hertl still seems on track for a second round return, if San Jose makes it that far. Putting him back on the Thornton line would allow the Sharks to potentially ice a third line of Torres, Pavelski and Matt Nieto, assuming Tommy Wingels stays on the Logan Couture line, where he seems to fit in best.

It’s an important postseason for the Sharks. If they fail in the first round, or even the second, and it will be one more offseason of hearing that they are just the "same old Sharks," who play well in the regular season but falter when the games count the most. Considering Thornton and Patrick Marleau both signed three-year contract extensions in February, a certain staleness with the current group may creep in without a significant postseason performance.

Who do you think we’ll see from Worcester as we head into the playoffs? (Alden Tanaka)

As every NHL team does, the Sharks will recall a number of players in time for the postseason, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one or several of them play. For example, Bracken Kearns will undoubtedly be back, and I could see him playing in a fourth line role against Los Angeles ahead of a guy like Marty Havlat, whose game doesn’t translate against a heavy team like the Kings. Freddie Hamilton and John McCarthy will surely return, too.

Speaking of forwards, Eriah Hayes showed he could keep up with the pace of play when he was recalled earlier in the year, and may be an option in case of emergency. I think defensemen Matt Tennyson and Taylor Doherty will both stick around, but they won’t play unless the team encounters injury issues. Ditto with the third goalie, which will probably be Harri Sateri, who played a bit more than Troy Grosenick.

I’m curious to see if the Sharks will keep first round pick Mirco Mueller around for an extra couple of weeks, too, after he was recently reassigned to Worcester. I get the impression the club is really high on this kid and he will be given a real shot to make the team out of camp next year. Often times, teams keep their top prospects around at playoff time to give them a taste of NHL life, and the Sharks may want to do that with the 19-year-old prospect.