SAN JOSE — After all the Sharks confronted some personnel questions as they began coaching camp Friday at their apply facility.
What can the Sharks fairly count on from a legend like Joe Thornton at this stage of his profession with two surgically repaired knees? Are they deep sufficient at heart? Can the youthful gamers take one other step ahead?
And, sure, remarkably, who will wind up taking part in alongside defenseman Erik Karlsson?
Nonetheless, expectations for the Sharks have maybe by no means been larger than they’re proper now, particularly after buying Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators on Thursday in one of many largest trades in franchise historical past.
Simply making the playoffs gained’t fairly be adequate.
“It’s a stress to win,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer stated Friday. “There’s no shirking that, there’s no hiding from it. I’m not an enormous believer in you don’t discuss in regards to the Stanley Cup. There’s no hiding from that. That’s what we’re right here to do.”
The Sharks’ offseason up till Thursday had been highlighted by the long-term extensions handed out to Evander Kane, Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl, plus the one-year deal given to Thornton for him to return again and play a 14th season in San Jose.
They have been regarded as playoff contenders once more, like they’ve been for a lot of the final 15 years. Perhaps not within the NHL’s high tier, however among the many groups which have an affordable shot at a division crown.
All that has modified with the acquisition of Karlsson, who ought to assist an influence play that ranked 16th within the 2017-18 common season and sixth within the playoffs.
The message is easy. It’s time to hold a Cup banner within the rafters of SAP Middle.
“Issues sort of get shaken up after an enormous commerce,” stated Couture, who centered a line with Hertl and Timo Meier on Friday. “It’s vitality, it’s a nervous vitality, it’s each kind of vitality that there’s. … Everybody’s simply able to get going and at present was an excellent day.”
That’s partly as a result of the Sharks noticed Thornton again on the ice, wholesome, rested and wanting to play.
Thornton took his regular spot among the many ahead strains Friday on the staff’s apply facility — at heart ice with Joe Pavelski on his proper aspect and now Kane on his left.
Thornton stated Friday staff docs gave him a clear invoice of well being the day earlier than, eight months after he had his second main reconstructive knee surgical procedure in as a few years.
“I really feel good,” Thornton stated. “All the things’s wholesome, 100 p.c, able to go.”
Friday was the primary alternative for Thornton, 39, to undergo a full apply with Kane, who the Sharks signed to a seven-year extension in Might.
“For me being a passer and to have the posh of passing to 2 objective scorers, it’s one thing that you simply get pleasure from,” Thornton stated. “You look ahead to coming to the rink as a result of you realize you’ve two finishers in your line.”
As strong because the protection corps seems to be, and the way harmful the highest six ahead group seems to be, there’s nonetheless a query mark relating to the Sharks’ depth.
Again are forwards Kevin Labanc, Joonas Donskoi, Marcus Sorensen, Melker Karlsson and Barclay Goodrow.
Labanc and Donskoi had their moments final season, but in addition battled inconsistency, with Donskoi coming out and in of the lineup with accidents. Goodrow additionally spent the primary half of the 12 months injured earlier than he got here on within the second half, and Sorensen, who began the 12 months with the Barracuda, performed his finest hockey of the season within the Sharks’ two-round playoff run.
There’s additionally the potential for 2 first-year gamers to start out the season because the Sharks’ third and fourth line facilities.
Antti Suomela, 24, seems to be like he’ll exchange Chris Tierney because the Sharks’ third-line heart. He signed a one-year take care of San Jose in June after he led Liiga — Finland’s high skilled league — in scoring this previous season. Dylan Gambrell, who performed three video games with the Sharks on the finish of final season after he was signed out of Denver College, seems to be just like the main candidate to be the fourth line heart.
There are some unknowns.
“Everybody’s making an enormous deal out of that proper now,” Couture stated. “Pete has completed an important job all through his tenure right here of discovering strains and what works, placing guys in spots that profit them.”
As far a the place the Sharks match within the Western Convention, it’s truthful to say that if there’s a favourite to win the Pacific Division, it’s San Jose. However the playoffs matter most, and the query is whether or not the Sharks stack up with Nashvilleand Winnipeg from the Central Division and groups like Toronto, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and the defending Cup champions, Washington, from the East?
“There’s very not often a simple sport,” Sharks basic supervisor Doug Wilson stated. “When groups exit and get higher, it forces different groups to get higher.”
“Doug and possession have despatched a message to our group that they consider that we’re one of many groups that has the aptitude of (successful the Cup),” DeBoer stated. “Now that the journey begins, it’s on us to get higher day by day and make it possible for give ourselves an opportunity to win.”
▪ DeBoer stated Melker Karlsson — who didn’t apply with both of the highest two teams Friday — is coping with an higher physique damage proper now, and has been for a lot of the summer time. Karlsson is unable to take contact proper now and it’s unclear when Karlsson will have the ability to be a full participant in apply once more.