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Sharks Locker Room: What Type of Player Should San Jose Target This Off-Season?



Credit: Dean Tait/Hockey Shots

When you’re the worst team in the NHL, there’s a lot wrong with you.

But if I were to start with one thing for the San Jose Sharks to focus on this off-season, after they ended their year with a 5-1 loss to the Calgary Flames?

Besides drafting Macklin Celebrini.

According to SPORTLOGiQ, the Sharks are both the league’s worst in both Offensive Zone Possession Time For and Against.

For the record, they averaged 5:17 OZ Possession Time For a game, well short of the 6:45 median and 7:55 NHL-best. They surrendered 8:56 OZ Possession Against a game, much worse than the 6:45 median and 5:09 league-best.

So San Jose had a significant problem with both sustaining and killing plays.

How do they take steps toward fixing that this off-season, getting harder to play against?

It’s not easy to find players who truly excel at sustaining or killing plays – but usually, improving defense is easier than improving offense.

So if I were to pick one thing to start to fix the Sharks? More players who can kill plays.

“That’s a big, big problem for us. We need to defend harder in our one-on-one situations. We need to end plays,” San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn conceded. “Right now, it’s a little too easy to get the puck away from us. And it’s very, very difficult for us to get the puck away from the other team.”

The hockey cliché is build from the goal out.

From there, perhaps San Jose can start to improve the rest of their game, one zone at a time?

In Mackenzie Blackwood, perhaps the Sharks have found their answer in goal, at least for now.

Next zone is defensive, where San Jose is hoping to kill more plays next season, lower their OZ possession time against, perhaps with some additions via trade or free agency.

“We’re anticipating a big summer and we’ll be better next year,” Quinn said.

One good play leads to another.

Kill a play, maybe you’re in a better place to initiate a clean breakout. A smoother breakout, you have a better chance of gaining the zone with clear possession or establishing a forecheck. Start with the puck in the offensive zone, have more OZ possession time.

It’s all connected.

Or at least it should be. Wait ‘til next year?

David Quinn

Quinn, on the San Jose Sharks’ inability to kill plays:

Yeah, that’s a big, big problem for us. We need to defend harder in our one-on-one situations. We need to end plays. Right now, it’s a little too easy to get the puck away from us. And it’s very, very difficult for us to get the puck away from the other team.

We’re anticipating a big summer and we’ll be better next year.

Devin Cooley

Cooley, on the significance, as a Los Gatos native, of playing Gilroy native Dustin Wolf tonight:

I don’t know him personally, but I’ve been following him for a while, obviously in the American League. He’s had a great career so far.

It’s really awesome to see how far youth hockey has come in Northern California and the Bay Area and it was really cool to be able to play against him tonight.

I hope we continue to see more more guys from the Bay Area make the NHL, and at some point in the future, it’s to be expected. It’s no longer surprising.

No longer a cool thing, but like I’m making the NHL from the Bay Area, it’s like no surprise there, it’s a hockey hotbed.

Cooley, on a tough last two games to close this season:

That Edmonton game definitely took a hit on my confidence. That showed tonight. I think I reverted back to a lot of old habits tonight. Wasn’t me out there. Trying to battle through and trying to stay positive and tell myself like it’s gonna be fine and I just couldn’t beat the mental side of things tonight.

I thought I played small. I played on my heels. I was sitting back. Old habits, that’s not my game anymore.

Fabian Zetterlund

Zetterlund, on Luke Kunin showing his compete to the last minute, standing up for Romanov:

I think we need more of that. Especially beginning of the games, a game is a full 60 minutes. I don’t remember the last time we played a full 60.

Zetterlund, on being the only San Jose Sharks player to play 82 games this season:

It’s nice. I feel fresh every game, try to stay in shape. Ready to go every night. That was my goal before the season, and yeah, I made it.

Kyle Burroughs

Burroughs, on Georgi Romanov:

Georgi is great. He’s been good for us, he’s made big saves. He’s came in, in kind of a tough position. But he’s stood tall.

He’s a pretty mellow guy. He’s funny.

Burroughs, on Mikael Granlund reaching 60 points:

He was our MVP, our MVP for a reason. Heart-and-soul guy that’s got a lot of talent, got a lot of other skills that we need up front.

He’s meant a lot. I think he’s gonna build on this. I’m sure we’ll see a better version of him next year as well.

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