Sharks 2021-22 Second Half Predictions

At the All-Star Game break, I think the San Jose Sharks are in a similar spot to how many predicted them. The team is decently outside a playoff spot, with just a small sliver of hope to make the postseason.

But, the team is certainly improved from last season. The overall forward depth and goaltending has become much better, in addition to some strides forward taken by Mario Ferraro and Jacob Middleton.

Mario Ferraro San Jose Sharks
Mario Ferraro, San Jose Sharks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The club is seven points out of a playoff spot with four other teams separating them from a coveted Wild Card spot. Can the Sharks hit another gear and sneak into the postseason, or are they about to miss the postseason in three consecutive years for the first time in franchise history?

My predictions for the organization’s second half:

Sharks Miss Postseason

Not the hottest take by me, but still an important prediction to make. As it sits now, the following teams have better point percentages than the Sharks: Calgary Flames, Vegas Golden Knights, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers. The Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets, in addition to the division rivals, also slot ahead of the Sharks for a Wild Card.

And, the Sharks have key games upcoming against divisional opponents ahead of them in the standings. For example, in their next 15 games, there are three games against the Kings and two against the Ducks and Golden Knights. Those games are unlikely to feature Erik Karlsson, making San Jose’s odds even worse.

Erik Karlsson San Jose Sharks
Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

That injury, paired with Kevin Labanc and Nikolai Knyzhov’s unknown statuses, and likely trades of pending free agents, will lessen the team’s already glum postseason odds.

Should Tomas Hertl, Alexander Barabanov, and Karlsson all play the rest of the season, I see a minuscule shot for San Jose to make the playoffs. The decent possibility that all three skaters miss significant time hurts the team even more.

Sharks Trade a Top-Six Forward

The Sharks are looking toward the future. As a result, the largest priority for San Jose’s upcoming postseason will certainly be locking down their young skaters to extensions. The best of which include Mario Ferraro and Jonathan Dahlen, who could each demand salaries around $4-million.

Related: Sharks Need to Embrace a Full Rebuild at the 2021-22 Trade Deadline

Factoring in those extensions, the necessary contracts for bottom of the lineup players, and the possible cap penalty assessed for Evander Kane’s contract termination, I cannot see a world where the Sharks keep both Barabanov and Hertl.

The former is much more replaceable. Likely finishing the season with around 50-60 points, he has been a key winger in the team’s top-six. He will see a significant raise from his current $1-million salary. But the Sharks will certainly be reinserting William Eklund into their top-six, who will be on rookie salary and providing a similar offense-oriented role.

Hertl, who would warrant a much larger asset at the NHL Trade Deadline, will also warrant an extremely high salary next year. On pace for a 39-goal season, his next contract will have significant term and possibly pay the Czech center in the area of $8-million annually.

Tomas Hertl San Jose Sharks
Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks (Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images)

And, yes, the Sharks could trade a current non-contributor such as Radim Simek or Labanc for narrowly enough cap space to keep the current gang together. But that does not make sense to me and would be hard to defend to ownership and fans.

Why would the Sharks go to great lengths to keep their current roster intact, when that group will for the most part be regressing and is already not making the postseason? Thus, I would foresee San Jose dealing at least one of their top-six forwards at the upcoming deadline

Simek and Vlasic Scratched to Finish Season

I wrote an entire story regarding this topic, but since its publishing, my take has probably become even more likely.

Jaycob Megna, San Jose Barracuda captain, was signed to a one-year, two-way deal this offseason. When given the ‘C’ for an American Hockey League squad, the expectation is that the player will be a constant and positive presence for the young and developing team. In other words, the organization likely expected Megna to remain in the minors for all of 2021-22.

Yet, the journeyman has passed Simek and Marc-Edouard Vlasic on the team’s depth chart. Luckily, the veterans will remain in the lineup as Megna fractured his foot and will miss at least a month. At the most recent Sharks practice, the veterans were on the third pairing, in favor of Jake Middleton and Nicolas Meloche forming the second pair.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic San Jose Sharks
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With Karlsson and Megna eventually returning, Ryan Merkley constantly receiving call-ups to the NHL, and Nikolai Knyzhov hopefully becoming healthy enough to play this season, I can see both veterans eventually sitting in the press box to close out 2021-22.

Looking Toward San Jose’s Future

The organization will probably be focusing on their future. The Sharks are very much a fringe playoff team, with a high caliber prospect in William Eklund and hoping to reap the benefits of a sensational 2020 NHL Draft class that features leading scorers in their respective junior leagues.

The Sharks are improved from last season, but I predict not quite enough to sneak into the postseason. What are your predictions for the remainder of the team’s 2021-22 campaign? Let me know in the comments!


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