2022 has not been a kind year for the San Jose Sharks. Throughout the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons, the team has fallen short of any true movement in any direction. There have been numerous failures, shortcomings, and missed opportunities all across the board. However, that does not mean significant changes have not been made.
The Sharks brought in David Quinn as their new head coach, added Mike Grier as the replacement general manager to Doug Wilson, and traded long-time core member Brent Burns. Unfortunately, despite providing significant shakeups to the organization, these changes have yet to reap any real benefits. However, 2023 could be the year these moves finally develop their payoffs. As a result, here are what the Sharks will be hoping for going into the new year.
Committing to a Direction
At this point, asking for the Sharks to commit to either competing or rebuilding makes me sound like a broken record. But, watching them struggle in their state of mediocracy is becoming increasingly frustrating. The Sharks are constantly leaning toward the rebuild, but they have yet to make the significant changes required to truly begin the process. Something needs to change.
If there is a year where rebuilding is the best option, 2023 is that year. Connor Bedard is the grand prize that the teams at the bottom of the standings will be battling for when the NHL Entry Draft rolls around. Beyond him, Matvei Michkov and Adam Fantilli are both great players that any team would be lucky to draft. The depth continues to grow as the draft goes on. If the Sharks want to rebuild, this is the best chance they have to get a revolutionary player.
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If the Sharks want to compete, they have a lot of work to do. There is no easy way to make it into the Stanley Cup Playoffs with their current roster. However, it is far from impossible. A stroke of luck could bounce the team in the right direction. However, that likely won’t happen. Either way, fans should have a much better idea of what the Sharks plan to do as the trade deadline approaches.
Continued Prospect Development
Currently, the Sharks have a variety of great prospects in their system. The San Jose Barracuda and Wichita Thunder, the Sharks’ two farm teams, contain the majority of these players, but there are some in various junior leagues as well. Regardless, their prospects are having great seasons for the most part. As 2022 comes to an end, it would be great to see these prospects continue their path of development in 2023.
As of right now, not many of the Sharks’ prospects have gotten extended chances in the NHL. It would be nice to see some of the prospects who are having great seasons, like William Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau, Strauss Mann, and more, get their chance in the big leagues. However, it is understandable why the Sharks have kept them away from the NHL so far. Letting them develop is priority number one.
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It will likely be a while before the majority of the Sharks’ high-end prospects make it to the NHL full-time. However, watching the players grow their game is incredibly refreshing to what has been a less-than-stellar season thus far. If they are able to continue their development, the Sharks will have a bright future ahead.
Another Great Draft
When the 2022-23 season ends, the Sharks will have their best chance to get their future situated. Coming up on the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, they will need a great draft more now than ever before. The Sharks have a great track record of drafting gems late in the draft. If they are able to do that again this year, they could be on the right path sooner rather than later.
Having another great draft will only be a small piece of the puzzle for getting the Sharks back on track. However, if they can select great players for the future, continue to grow their current prospects, and commit to a direction, the team will be on the right track to a successful 2023. However, for the time being, I think it is safe to say that Sharks fans all across the board are ready for 2022 to come to a close.