The San Jose Sharks have been laying low this offseason. Outside of a few new hires and Brent Burns being traded away, they have spent their time away from the rink making only minor moves. However, while the news has been light, the upcoming 2022-23 season will be crucial for the Sharks. Realistically, this year will provide the answer to whether or not the team will sink or swim in the upcoming seasons.
With such a decisive season on the horizon, many fans believe the team’s fate is set in stone. However, as with every campaign, people should always expect the unexpected. The Sharks are no different in this regard. While the past few years have been grim, anything could happen. As a result, here are some of the hottest takes for the Sharks going into the 2022-23 NHL season.
Sharks Make a Blockbuster Trade
The last time the Sharks made a true blockbuster trade, Erik Karlsson became a member of the team at the expense of the future. Notably, Josh Norris and the first-round pick that became Tim Stutzle were sent to the Ottawa Senators. While the trade seemed even at first, the scale has tipped further and further in tThe Senators’ direction every year. However, this year will be different. The Sharks will make another blockbuster trade, and they will be the clear winners this time.
Who the Sharks trade in this blockbuster deal is up in the air. Realistically, Karlsson, Timo Meier, Logan Couture, and Tomas Hertl are the only players that qualify as blockbuster material now that Burns is gone. Hertl was just signed to a contract extension, and Karlsson’s contract is likely too large to find a taker, so those two will probably stay in San Jose. However, Couture and Meier are both legitimate candidates for a trade.
The nature of this theoretical trade largely depends on whether or not the Sharks start to rebuild. However, it would not be too crazy to think that they could look to package Meier and Couture together for high picks and prospects from a contending team. The pressure to win in the NHL seems higher than ever, and they could take advantage of that to pull off a trade that sets the organization up for the foreseeable future.
Strauss Mann Becomes the Sharks’ Starting Goalie
Strauss Mann was signed as a free agent out of college last year. He put up impressive numbers overseas following a tenure with the University of Michigan, and the Sharks decided to add him to their young goalie pool. While he is not projected to start the season in the NHL, he could very well end the season in the starting crease for the Sharks.
While the Sharks have a lot of goalies, none of them have proven consistency outside of James Reimer, who is reportedly being shopped around. Instead, they will look to their young goalies to find their game full-time. Adin Hill and Kaapo Kahkonen are the most likely candidate to win the crease this year, but Mann could easily work his way up to the top eventually.
For the Sharks, a young, talented goalie like Mann could be precisely what the team needs to get going. Finding consistent goaltending has been an issue for a long time, and he is currently the best chance they have to find reliable goaltending in the near future. While many projected him to take a year or two in the American Hockey League, he could make his way to the NHL sooner than everyone expected.
Sharks Make a Captaincy Change
Couture has been the captain of the Sharks since Joe Pavelski left in free agency in 2019. While he has been a great captain for them, they have never been afraid to change captaincies on the fly, as both Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton lost the “C” on their jersey after a lack of playoff success. If that is all it took for the two best players in team history to lose their spot as captain, Couture may not be far behind after missing the playoffs every year since he took over.
Does Couture deserve to lose his spot as the captain? No. Absolutely not. He has not had the team around him that Marleau or Thornton did when they were in that position. However, the organization’s history indicates that he might not have much longer regardless. If this happens, Hertl likely becomes the next one to don the “C”. Whether or not that happens this year is up in the air, but the idea that Couture loses it is something to at least ponder going into 2022-23.
This year will be a mixed bag for the Sharks. While it does not seem likely the team will make any pushes towards the playoffs, anything is possible, especially in the Pacific Division.
Do you see any of these hot takes becoming a reality? Do you have any hot takes of your own? Let us know in the comments!