Sharks - Navigating Rough Waters
The San Jose Sharks find themselves in an increasingly difficult position as they look to navigate their way back to NHL relevance. After a dismal performance last season, the franchise's commitment to a rebuild is clear, with a slew of new faces and the departure of key stars like Timo Meier and Erik Karlsson. But will these changes translate to progress in the upcoming season?
2022-2023 Season Recap: A Perfect Storm of Failure
San Jose ended the season in the seventh spot in the Pacific Division, garnering only 60 points and a cringe-worthy -87 goal differential. Their ESBC Power AI metrics showed a team whose performance drastically declined after the first 50 games. In particular, the goaltending tandem of James Reimer and Kaapo Kähkönen was nothing short of disastrous, contributing significantly to the dreadful goal differential. And then there was of course the factor of tanking for Connor Bedard. It's impossible to exactly say how much that contributed to that late season slump in various ways.
Offseason Exits and Entrances: Trading Stars and Hoping for Best
The trade of Erik Karlsson marked the exit of the last remaining superstar from the Sharks' roster, signaling a total commitment to rebuilding. From the "old guard", only Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Marc-Edouard Vlasic remain.
In goal, Mackenzie Blackwood replaces James Reimer, but it's uncertain whether he can be the solid presence the team so desperately needs between the pipes.
New Blood: Quantity Over Quality?
Top newcomers for the Sharks include forwards Duclair, Zadina, Granlund, Hoffman, and Carpenter, and on the blue line, Rutta and Burroughs. Among these, Duclair and Hoffman are expected to have the most impact, but none are transformative players. They're good NHLers but unlikely to move the needle much.
A Future-Focused Approach: Prospects and Draft Picks
The Sharks have made it clear that their focus is on future seasons, as they've stockpiled draft picks and prospects. While this is the right path for a team in their position, it doesn't bode well for the immediate future.
Analytics Perspective: Caution Ahead
Although the team's ESBC Power AI metrics weren't terrible at the beginning of last season, their subsequent nosedive and horrendous goaltending figures do not provide much hope for a quick turnaround. It's going to be an uphill battle for the Sharks to significantly improve their performance in the 2023-2024 season. David Quinn continues as the head coach and has a huge task ahead.
The Final Verdict: Patience Is Key
San Jose fans should brace themselves for another challenging season. However, they can take solace in the fact that the franchise is building for the future, as painful as that may be in the short term. The upcoming season will likely be another step in the rebuilding process, but if all goes well, the team could find itself in a much more competitive position a few years down the line. The critical issue now is to keep an eye on the development of their young prospects and draft picks. They are the future, and the Sharks will need them to pay dividends if they are to return to NHL prominence.
It is very likely, that at the upcoming trade deadline the Sharks will be once again sellers. That will further lower the expected points for this season. (Please read our Disclaimer for NHL Team Points Distribution Histograms.)
From sportsbetting perpective Sharks are going to be an interesting team. Everyone knows that they are bad, so how high will their odds rise? Even to the point where it's profitable to bet NHL's worst team? We'll have to wait and see...
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