The 2019-20 season was a nightmare for the San Jose Sharks. The team was decimated by injuries with star players Erik Karlsson, Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl all missing extended portions of the schedule.
San Jose sputtered to a 29-36-5 record through 70 games before the league shut down due to the pandemic, and missed the playoffs for just the second time in the past 14 seasons. The Sharks’ first-round pick belongs to the Ottawa Senators (as part of the Karlsson trade), but they own the Tampa Bay Lightning’s first-round selection.
General manager Doug Wilson will have to round out the roster and plug some of the holes for San Jose to get back into the playoffs next year. The Athletic’s Scott Burnside wrote about what should be each NHL teams’ biggest priority this offseason, and had this to say about the Sharks:
“The acquisition of Karlsson at the start of the 2018-19 season was supposed to be the final piece to a long-awaited Stanley Cup, but Karlsson has battled injuries throughout his tenure in San Jose, and it remains to be seen if a team with two Norris Trophy winners in Karlsson and Burns can co-exist or better yet achieve the game’s top prize. The other key to returning to playoff contention will be solidifying the goaltending, which has been uneven with Martin Jones as the starter the past couple of seasons. Greiss is a known quantity and might be the sleeper of the UFA goaltender crop.”
The Sharks have $41.5 million tied up in five players, but the team will have just over $8 million in cap space, per Spotrac. The goaltending duo of Martin Jones and Aaron Dell struggled. San Jose gave up 3.26 goals per game and had the second-worst save% in the league at .895
Jones has a $5.75 million cap hit for the next four years, while Dell is an unrestricted free agent. There are plenty of veterans available this offseason as free agents, including Braden Holtby, Corey Crawford, Thomas Greiss, Anton Khudobin, Jacob Markstrom and Cam Talbot.
The Dallas Stars will look to bring Khudobin back next season, especially after his performance so far in the postseason. Talbot could be a potential fit, but I believe Wilson should target Markstrom.
The Vancouver Canucks face a cap crunch with young superstars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes on the cusp of signing big extensions. Thatcher Demko showed what he could do in the playoffs, so GM Jim Benning could make the tough decision of letting Markstrom walk this offseason.
Greiss is a short-term option as well. The 34-year-old is playing well for the New York Islanders during the playoffs and will be affordable. His $3.33 cap hit is reasonable, and if Wilson can lure Greiss to the Bay Area on a two-year deal, it will help solidify the Sharks’ goaltending the next couple of seasons.
Which free-agent goalie do you think Wilson should target this offseason?