The San Jose Sharks have been off to a rough start this season. The team could not find footing to save their lives in their first five games. Then, even when they could pull their act together, they could never hold it together long enough to secure a win, even against teams set to tank, such as the Chicago Blackhawks. It indeed seemed like the Sharks could be approaching rock bottom rapidly. However, in their second week, they finally managed to pull off their first win against the New York Rangers on Oct. 21.
Following the Sharks’ first victory, they experienced a series of ups and downs. They shut out the Philadelphia Flyers but fell short of beating the New Jersey Devils. After that, the season began to take a turn for the better, but there are still glaring issues with their play. With that said, there are a few notable things to take away from the Sharks’ play last week. While the takeaways aren’t all good, they’re essential to recognize if this season wants to continue down the right path.
Sharks Veterans Failing to Keep Up
By far, the biggest issue with this season has been the lack of veteran support throughout the lineup. Erik Karlsson currently leads the team in points with six in eight games. Outside of him, no player has exceeded a point-per-every-other-game average. Usually, that wouldn’t be the end of the world, but for players like Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier, who are supposed to be in their prime, it’s a bit concerning.
What is perhaps most concerning about the Sharks’ veteran performances is that it doesn’t help them lean in one direction or the other as far as a rebuild is concerned. If they want to contend, they need their veterans to play up to their full capability. However, if they want to rebuild, they’ll need their players to play up to par in order to trade them at max value. There is almost no scenario where the team current’s skill level helps them in any direction whatsoever.
Reimer Continues to Impress
While the majority of the season has been a bust for the Sharks, James Reimer has been the one saving grace of the season. In the five games he’s played, he’s put up a .933 save percentage, which is phenomenal. Without a doubt, he was the key to their victory against the Flyers. On any other team, Reimer would be getting showered with praise. However, because he’s a member of the Sharks, his play has been largely overlooked as the team continues to struggle.
If the Sharks are still falling apart by the trade deadline, Reimer could be an excellent trade piece. Because he’s in the final year of his contract, teams might be willing to spend a hefty price to acquire him. If the Sharks want a better chance at building for the future, he could be the key to getting there.
Then again, if the Sharks start to turn it around, Reimer could be the answer to getting them on the right track. The current team is struggling big time, but if they can play around him instead of relying on him to fix their mistakes, they could find themselves in a much better position than they appear to be in.
Sharks Continue to Let Their Prospects Develop
Perhaps the most admirable part of Mike Grier’s time as the Sharks’ general manager has been his willingness to spare the prospects. Despite needing a desperate boost to their performance, William Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau, Ryan Merkley, and others are being kept in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the San Jose Barracuda. So far, that seems to be the correct choice.
The prospects have been playing up to par with the AHL skill level, which indicates that they are in the right spot for the time being. They are continuing to develop in an environment that suits their current play rather than harming it in the NHL. At this pace, it seems they are doing the best thing for their development by leaving them in the AHL.
The Sharks have a long way to go before they are ready to compete in any capacity. It could be a while before the team has a week where there are only positives to discuss. With that said, they did start moving in the right direction this week. If they can carry this momentum into the future, maybe they’ll be a better team than they were projected to be.
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Andrew Stille is a freelance writer for THW who is currently studying Journalism and Communication in college. In addition, he’s a devoted NHL content creator looking to grow and learn daily. Andrew is a trustworthy source for everything San Jose Sharks-related and strives to create fun and exciting articles for all readers.
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