When it comes to the San Jose Sharks, my favorite game to play by far is devil’s advocate. Now that the 2023 trade deadline is behind and the rosters have been more or less finalized for the year, a period of reflection has begun that will likely last for the remainder of the season. Did teams make the right moves? Were futures jeopardized? The answers will likely not come for a while, but fans will know soon enough.
Related: Meier Trade Provides Framework for Future Deals
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The Sharks made one of the biggest trade deadline moves when they sent Timo Meier to the New Jersey Devils in return for multiple draft picks and prospects. Obviously, no fan was excited to see Meier on the move. He was one of the franchise’s brightest spots during the season, but management was backed into a corner with Meier’s new contract on the horizon. However, I think it’s only fair to ask; did the Sharks make the right move at the wrong time?
Sharks’ Rebuild Is Inevitable
In all fairness to general manager Mike Grier, he was left with Doug Wilson’s mess going into this season. Many players were on contracts paying them much more than what made sense in the long term, and the prospect core was only as strong as its recent additions. What that resulted in was a mediocre team that was never bad enough to draft high but nowhere near the playoffs either.
During last season, the big question for the Sharks was whether or not Tomas Hertl was going to receive an extension or hit free agency. After a decent year, management decided to keep him around until 2030 with a brand new contract. However, in hindsight, maybe it would have been better to trade Hertl at the deadline to gather assets and look at keeping Meier. Unfortunately, that is not what happened, and now the Sharks are on a path that will inevitably lead to a rebuild.
Don’t get me wrong, Hertl is an amazing presence on the Sharks. But from a logistical standpoint, it makes little sense to keep him around long-term and let Meier go when Meier has outperformed Hertl as of late. It seems like the Sharks made the right decision in trying to flip Meier to grow the future when his new contract would be steep, but they made the polar opposite choice with Hertl a year earlier.
Doug Wilson’s Tenure Lasted Far Too Long
Wilson did some tremendous things for the Sharks during his time as GM. However, like all things, change was inevitable. The core that he largely built through solid drafting and good trades began to age out, and it seems he was never able to come to terms with the fact that a new era needed to happen. As a result, he made several moves towards the end of his career that sunk the Sharks beyond repair, especially in their prospect pool.
Once Wilson was gone, Grier was left to pick up the pieces. The year started with the intention to push for the playoffs and bring the team back into relevancy, but the roster just was not built to do that anymore. However, unlike Wilson, he recognized the signs and came to terms with the fact that Meier needed to go to help regain relevancy. It is nice to see management finally deciding that they are willing to take a step back to move forward, but it is hard to ignore what the future could have been if they had recognized the signs sooner.
This season is a bust for the Sharks. The most interesting conversation coming from San Jose is whether or not they will be able to win the draft lottery and add Connor Bedard, which would certainly accelerate any potential rebuild. It may have taken a bit too long for the Sharks to begin the journey to recovery, but they are on the right track. Now, fans need to wait and see if they will be able to maintain this plan in the future.