The San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights are going in opposite directions. The Sharks are in the early stages of a long rebuild and the Golden Knights have been Stanley Cup contenders for five of their first six seasons.
If the Golden Knights wish to repeat as Pacific Division champions, they must win the easy games on the schedule. The Pacific Division figures to be very competitive.
This is part two of an eight-part series highlighting each Pacific Division team. Part two highlights the San Jose Sharks.
Last season: The Sharks had 60 points, placing them seventh in the Pacific Division and 29th overall.
Rebuild: The Sharks are in the early stages of a rebuild. Trading Karlsson was key in getting the rebuild going in the right direction. But the return for Karlsson was minimal and delayed the rebuild for two more seasons.
The Sharks owed Karlsson $11.5 million for four more seasons. On the plus side, the Sharks only retained $1.5 million of his salary for the next four seasons. However, the Sharks had to take on $20 million in bad contracts to make the trade happen. The net savings over the next four years is $20 million.
At least the Sharks ended up with a first-round pick out of the deal.
Biggest Strength: Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl have only played for the Sharks. That is over 1,300 games of knowledge and experience to pass on to the next generation. The future of the Sharks will be in good hands as long as Couture and Hertl are around.
Biggest Weakness: Mario Ferraro was the only player under 25 years old to play in 70 or more games for the Sharks last season. The Sharks need to develop their younger players. There is no future in San Jose until the 25 and under crowd gets on the ice regularly.
Outlook: The Sharks were bad last season with the Norris Trophy winner. They no longer have the Norris Trophy winner. It is hard to make a case for the Sharks to be higher than seventh place in the Pacific Division and outside of the bottom-four spots in the overall standings next season.
The focus should be on getting the younger players as much NHL experience as possible.