In this edition of San Jose Sharks News & Rumors, there is plenty of chatter involving trading one of James Reimer or Adin Hill, as this current roster has too many goaltenders. Meanwhile, Nikolai Knyzhov’s long-awaited return will have to be put on pause, as he is expected to miss significant time due to a torn Achilles tendon. In other news, two former NHLers in Tommy Wingels and Luca Sbisa have joined the organization as development coaches.
Sharks Expected to Move Reimer or Hill
As of right now, the Sharks have three NHL goaltenders on the books in Reimer, Hill, and Kaapo Kahkonen. According to Sheng Peng of San Jose Hockey Now, Kahkonen is the goaltender they are viewing as their starter, which makes plenty of sense, given that they acquired him at this past year’s trade deadline. What that means is that they will need to move one of Reimer or Hill before the start of the 2022-23 season.
Reimer, 34, seems to be the more likely candidate to get dealt. With the Sharks being a rebuilding team, keeping older veterans makes little sense compared to younger players they can hope to develop. On top of that, he holds more trade value thanks to a very solid 2021-22 season in which he posted a 2.90 goals against average (GAA) paired with a .911 save percentage (SV%) in 48 games. He currently has one year remaining on a team-friendly contract that carries a $2.25 million cap hit.
Hill, 26, was acquired in a deal last offseason from the Arizona Coyotes with the hopes that he could turn into the Sharks’ number one netminder. His first season with his new club didn’t go as hoped, as he battled injuries and struggled with consistency, registering a 2.66 GAA along with a .906 SV%. He, too, has just one year remaining on his deal with a cap hit of $2.175 million.
As far as potential suitors go, no one is in the market for a goaltender right now more so than the Vegas Golden Knights, who recently announced that Robin Lehner would miss the entire 2022-23 campaign due to hip surgery. They are a franchise facing a ton of pressure after missing the playoffs this past year, something they cannot afford to do again. From their perspective, adding Reimer over Hill would seem to make more sense since he is a much more proven player. Given the desperation of the Golden Knights, Sharks general manager Mike Grier may be able to get a rather solid return for the veteran netminder.
Knyzhov Tears Achilles
After missing the entire 2021-22 season due to a groin injury, both the Sharks and Knyzhov eagerly awaited his return to the lineup in 2022-23. Unfortunately, they will have to wait some time, as the 24-year-old defenseman tore his Achilles tendon while participating in an off-ice training session over the weekend. His expected recovery time is approximately six months.
This is devastating news for Knyzhov, who showed some serious promise as an undrafted rookie during the 2020-21 season. During that year with the Sharks, he suited up for 56 games, scoring two goals and 10 points while averaging just under 17 minutes per game in ice time. This past April, he had agreed to a one-year, $850,000 extension with the Sharks.
Sharks Hire Wingels & Sbisa
The Sharks announced days ago that they had hired both Wingels and Sbisa as development coaches. They are expected to serve alongside Mike Ricci, who has been with the Sharks for a long time as a development coach.
Wingels, 34, had a 448-game NHL career. The first six seasons of that career came with the Sharks before he went on to have stints with the Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins. After his final NHL campaign in 2017-18, he went to the National League in Switzerland for two seasons before announcing his retirement.
Sbisa, 32, had a 549-game career and last appeared in the NHL in 2020-21. His career included stops with the Philadelphia Flyers, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, Vegas Golden Knights, New York Islanders, Winnipeg Jets and the Nashville Predators.
These hires are continued changes in the Sharks hockey operations group, which has seen a major overhaul this offseason. It seems that all the pieces are in place now, meaning we shouldn’t expect to hear many, if any, new hires for the remainder of the summer.
Looking Ahead for the Sharks
With training camp roughly a month out, it is unlikely the Sharks look to give any free agents a contract at this point and time, though it wouldn’t come as a shock to see them invite a player or two in on a professional tryout offer. Aside from that, the biggest thing to monitor is the goaltending situation, as it seems very unlikely that both Reimer and Hill are around come training camp.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.