We have all seen the news recently break that former Sharks defenseman and fan favorite Dan Boyle's negotiating rights have been traded to the Islanders for a conditional draft selection. While this move does show the organization's stance on "rebuilding the blueline" to use Wilson's words, it also leaves a void of leadership for the team. Boyle served as an alternate captain for several years and, with his departure, this is a leadership role that needs to be filled. I will lay out several strong candidates and make the case as to why i feel each would be deserving of taking the "A" formerly held by Boyler.
Pavs is by far my favorite player and therefore is my first nomination for this position. Management has been talking about "the younger core" of this team very frequently already this offseason and you better believe that they are referring to Pavelski and Burns as much as Couture and Vlasic. Pavelski has proven to be an invaluable asset to this team. He can play center. He can play wing (although I think he's best at C). He can score. He can set up plays. He can kill penalties. He plays on the PP. Basically, he's a hockey Swiss Army knife and he is simply great at what he does. Even more, the other players look up to him and you can see why in nearly every postgame interview. The guys has a calming presence and really sticks out to me as a leader.
The other major forward as part of the "young core" the Sharks have been establishing, Logan Couture has shown what has made him not only an excellent hockey player, but a great leader as well. Couture's fiery personality and the amount of emotion he shows while he plays the game is quite easy to see. He sticks up for his teammates, gets in the faces of opponents, and celebrates with the best of them after depositing one into the back of the net. The competitive spirit Couture shows is something I believe would translate great into a leadership position on the team.
The Sharks stalwart on defense is an option as well, but for different reasons. Vlasic's leadership style seems to be a "lead by example" approach as opposed to the Pavelski or Couture motivation through play and verbal communication. Pickles does not strike me as a guy who talks all that much, but, much like Couture, is a fierce competitor. I think we've all seen the evolution of Pickles into the solid defenseman in his own zone to the guy who, quite honestly, refuses to take anyone's shit. He sticks up for his teammates (more specifically his goaltender) with unparalleled intensity. So while he has quietly become one of the best defensemen in the NHL, he has not-so-quietly become a guy who adamantly sticks up for his teammates.
I see Burnzie's nomination here by me to be the dark horse selection of the bunch but, to me, he is no less deserving than any of the other nominations. We've all become familiar with the Burns Butt-Check and seeing him fly into the boards on the forecheck (which he will, unfortunately, no longer be doing), but he is also a guy who motivates his team with his style of play. Burns' reckless abandon which may end up shortening his career is what makes him as a guy who is very easy to rally around. That guy lays everything on the line every night so it is very difficult to not at least respect and appreciate what he does while also looking to make fellow players play with the same intensity.
While I would have zero problem with anyone being on this list being an alternate captain on the Sharks next year, ultimately, I would want to see Joe Pavelski wearing the "A" Boyle used to wear this upcoming season. He has been with the organization the longest, is definitely a large part of this team's future, and, quite simply, is a leader. If this team's early and unmentionable playoff exit taught us anything, it's that team leadership is absolutely vital come playoff time. Pavs is the kind of guy that belongs in a leadership position and who I believe can motivate this team to playoff success.