The Sharks’ first-round loss to the Oilers sets up a very interesting offseason. General manager Doug Wilson faces some big decisions regarding the makeup of his roster, the kind of team he wants to build and what stage of competitiveness his team is in. The impending expansion draft makes things all the more complicated.
Before the Sharks can move into standard offseason mode; you know, who they should take with their first-round draft pick and who they should target in free agency. They need to answer some big questions. Here are what I think are the three biggest decisions facing the Sharks as they enter the 2017 offseason. Your mileage may vary.
Are the Sharks contenders for the Stanley Cup in 2017-18?
This is the first question facing Doug Wilson (assuming his job is safe, and I don’t have a compelling reason to think otherwise). If the Sharks decide to take a step backwards next season after taking a look at a promising draft class, their answers to a few other big questions become a whole lot easier.
Should the Sharks re-sign Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton?
Of course this decision comes with the sub-decision of “to what sort of deals?” You can argue sentimentality and #brand #value shouldn’t matter to a decision like this, but the reality is they probably do. The Sharks have the cap space to bring both of these guys back to deals that cost more than their hockey skills warrant, assuming they aren’t too long. The real question is whether it’s worth it to the franchise to keep winning.
Will the Sharks retain Pete DeBoer?
Here’s why I think this is a big decision for the Sharks: If San Jose decides to keep DeBoer it signifies the team wants to make another run at the Stanley Cup with this core. If not, I believe (and I am speculating) Wilson will want to commit to building around a younger core (Tomas Hertl and betting on players like Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier to grow into bigger roles). DeBoer is a veterans coach — that’s why the Sharks hired him. If he stays, it’ll be because Wilson wants to roll the dice with the vets one more time.
There are other questions facing the Sharks this offseason, of course. But I think once we’ve got these answered, we can take a stab at figuring out how the other dominoes will fall.