First off, I want to make a point of saying that I'm not saying the sky is falling, that we should blow up the team, any of that. This is an honest question, and I'd like some honest feedback and discussion from people that've been watching the Sharks for years. My primary concern - as has been voiced by many recently - is the age of our core (Thornton, Marleau, Boyle, et al) and where that leaves us in a few years (though the obvious and most optimistic answer is "with more cap space"). Sure, we do have some younger talent in Couture, Pavelski and Vlasic, but are these guys truly good enough on their own to build a team around? I can forsee Couture and Pavs being a 1A, 1B thing at centre, but I don't know that either possesses the sheer mass of awesomeness contained within Joe Thornton.
My reason for asking is this: I recently stumbled upon a site called Hockey's Future (I think I've seen it mentioned here before, but I'm not personally familiar with it) that ranks San Jose's prospect pool as the league's worst. I don't know if we're significantly better after this year's draft, but that really worries me. We do have some young pieces that have the potential to develop into good players (Wingels, Galiardi, Sheppard and the likes), but I have this burning terror that they'll turn out more Benn Ferreiro than Joe Pavelski.
So where does the franchise go from here? I read recently that the Sharks organization posted $11M of losses last year, and while I know most NHL teams post losses, that doesn't seem like a sustainable business model to me (someone will have to explain how that works). There are really three ways the Sharks can go: Detroit, Edmonton or Calgary. Detroit manages to stay competitive despite continued success. Edmonton peaked, rapidly declined, and assembled a core of young talent with high draft picks. Calgary is a franchise that is consistently okay, and that seems to be content with neither playoff appearances nor high draft picks. Which will we be in five years?