Now that the NHL has solidified its 24-team return-to-play plan, we know the San Jose Sharks are focusing on next season.
The Sharks finished dead last in the Western Conference, so there is nowhere to go but up in 2020-21. San Jose’s first-round pick belongs to the Ottawa Senators thanks to the Erik Karlsson trade, but the Sharks do have the Tampa Bay Lightning’s first rounder, so they should hopefully be able to land a young talented piece for the future.
One thing general manager Doug Wilson has to get right is who he hires as the next head coach. Wilson went on-record in April saying current interim head coach Bob Boughner currently has the upper hand in the process. The team went 14-20-3 after Boughner took over for the fired Peter DeBoer in December. Wilson is encouraged with what he saw after making the move:
“We know we’ve got some work to be ready for next season, whenever that may be,” Wilson said, “but while our results for the year aren’t where we needed them to be or want them to be, I was pleased to see some of the overall play improved over the last half of the year. I thought more often than not we were playing the game the right way ... I thought we played as a team with identity and structure more so in the second part of the year.”
The Sharks were hit hard by the injury bug, so it is tough to get a true measure of Boughner’s performance. Sharks players have been supportive of Boughner for the job he did, but is there a better candidate available that could help the team challenge for a playoff spot next year?
Some of the names available are: Stanley Cup champion Mike Babcock, who was fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2019-20 season. Peter Laviolette has made the Cup Finals twice in the past 10 years, and is a veteran option that could pay immediate dividends. Former Golden Knights’ head coach Gerard Gallant is available, which would be funny with DeBoer being in Vegas, but he had major success with an expansion team, and figures to be back in the league next season. The final option that came to mind is Bruce Boudreau. The former Minnesota Wild coach was dismissed in February. He has only missed the playoffs twice in 12 full seasons as the bench boss. Boudreau hasn’t won a cup, despite coaching some stacked teams, but he does do well with veteran players.
Do you think Wilson should remove the interim tag on Boughner? Or is there another coach out there that you want behind the Sharks’ bench next season?