When it comes to NHL rebuilds, there are teams who seemingly live in denial, like the Ducks. Every now and then, a team such as the Coyotes actually exceeds expectations. Then there’s the Sharks, a team that (deep down) might prefer to rebuild, but could just be flat-out stuck.
Be sure to cue the “Jaws” theme as you scroll through the Sharks’ page at Cap Friendly, because you won’t find an NHL team with bigger bloat. Add in Evander Kane‘s ugly situation, and reports about fractured relationships with teammates, and the situation looks more and more like a disaster movie.
Is there any room for a happy ending, then?
Frankly, the 2021-22 Sharks don’t look that different from the recent, wildly disappointing groups from recent seasons. Yes, they moved from Martin Jones, but it’s unclear if James Reimer – Adin Hill can transform their goaltending from a weakness to a true strength. In most cases, the Sharks are simply hoping that the bad things that happened before won’t keep happening.
So, where are the Sharks stuck, what are some trades/departures that are more realistic, and how might they improve what they currently have? Let’s attack this monster from multiple angles.
Kane, Hertl, and more pressing Sharks trade considerations
During the offseason, we’ve heard about the Sharks having little luck trying to trade Evander Kane. There have also been rumblings about Tomas Hertl, and murmurs about Timo Meier.
If Sharks management is self-aware, they really shouldn’t close the door on any trade possibilities, with the potential exception being the rare impact prospect, such as William Eklund. Instead, the question should be about when they should trade a player, not if.
Hertl turns 28 in November, and enters a contract year this season. Even as a player whose all-around skill is sorely underrated, the Sharks must expect Hertl to get a nice raise from his current $5.625M cap hit. Making that investment in such a messy situation screams of added more sunk costs to a drowning group. So, instead, it’s imperative to sell as high as possible in a Hertl trade. With just a three-team no-trade clause, that could be difficult. On the other hand, does Hertl really want to linger in this bad situation for a full season?
It’s a delicate situation, and the Sharks don’t have the greatest recent track record of threading this needle. They need to get this one right — and that almost certainly means waving goodbye to one of the few players they employ who exceeds his contract value.