San Jose Sharks
Having Erik Karlsson on such a long term contract is not ideal if the San Jose Sharks want to rebuild. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks put themselves within one point of a playoff place on Saturday with a 5-4 win over the St. Louis Blues. In a tight Honda West Division that sees seven points separate the bottom team, Anaheim Ducks, from the top team, Vegas Golden Knights, this could be celebrated as a real achievement for a team who struggled last year. The only problem is the Sharks don’t have a sense of direction and you could argue that both making the playoffs or not could be detrimental to the team.

SHARKS NEED TO REBUILD

San Jose Sharks should be counting the days until April 12th, the trade deadline for this unusual season. A team that is well known for going all-in to win at the deadline finds themselves in a different situation this go-round. General Manager Doug Wilson, instead of adding an Erik Karlsson-like star, should be looking to trade pieces for draft picks and prospects and push the Sharks into rebuild mode. If this irritates any Sharks fans you need to wake up from the dream you are living.

Luckily for Doug Wilson and the Sharks, goaltender Martin Jones is doing everything in his power to make sure the Sharks own 2021 pick is as high as possible. The Sharks goaltender has conceded 35 goals on 276 shots for a save percentage (SV%) of .873, the worst of any goaltender this season with ten or more games played. As long as Doug Wilson doesn’t do anything stupid before the trade deadline the possibility of a top ten pick for the first time since 2015 is in the realm of realistic. The problem is no matter who the Sharks draft they will still have a below-par goaltender to prop up as Jones has four more years on a $5.75 AAV remaining.

Therefore the more draft picks you can pick up the better. High-end talents on ELC contracts who can slide into the team ala the Ottawa Senators make the possibility of buying out Jones’ contract much more realistic. But who can the Sharks move?

CONTRACT HELL

The obvious choice would be one of their big offensive defensemen in Brent Burns or Erik Karlsson. Both can hold their own defensively but would be packaged on their offensive abilities that any team on the cusp of the playoffs would be eager to add… if it wasn’t for their contracts.

Burns is 35 years old with five more years left at $8million AAV while Karlsson is 30 years old with an $11.5 million AAV for the next seven years. No team in their right mind would be looking to take on this responsibility for a one-year chance at glory, despite their obvious talents. Realistically those two are unmovable unless their contracts are bought out.

Logan Couture could be another option to move except for the same problems as Burns and Karlsson. A ridiculous seven years at $8million AAV remain on the current captain’s contract meaning a Stanley Cup challenging team is not likely to take a chance. Couture and Burns also have no-trade clauses while Karlsson has a no-move clause. See what’s happening here yet?

WHO CAN YOU MOVE?

Anyone worth moving has a contract not worth taking on if you are a potential Stanley Cup challenger. Marc-Édouard Vlasic has six years at $7million AAV and is 33 years old and Evander Kane has five years at $7 million AAV at 29 years old and personal problems. Last year the Sharks traded Barclay Goodrow for a first-round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning, which ended up being the 31st due to Tampa winning the Stanley Cup. That’s unlikely to happen this season.

You could trade Patrick Marleau for the billionth time or look to move on Ryan Donato or Dylan Gambrell. All three are in the final years of their contracts and could be bottom-six forwards on challenging teams. That won’t get you a high draft pick though and leaves you with the same contract hell you are currently in.

SHOULD THE SHARKS GO FOR IT?

This begs the question, should the Sharks just go all in for that fourth spot in the Honda West Division and hope Lady Luck sees them to a cup run like she did the Dallas Stars last season? Normally you would say it’s not worth it but the drop-off in standard after the big three of the Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche, and St. Louis Blues is massive. The Sharks are only one point off the Los Angeles Kings in fourth, and could easily sneak in.

ANOTHER FANTASTIC FLYERS RECAP FROM ANDREW MCGUINNESS

With short-term blinders on that seems ideal but long term the San Jose Sharks are in a world of trouble. The lack of long-term planning when handing out big contracts has now hindered their growth. Not to mention the Pandemic and the effect it’s having on the Salary Cap. I don’t think even Trey would want to be the general manager of the Bay Area team right now.

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