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Sharks’ Biggest Problem Isn’t the Contracts

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Foresight is an ability that I’m sure most GMs in hockey would love to have. But since we live in the real world, general managers and all humans alike must take their chances and call their shots using the tools they have at their disposal.

And since GM’s don’t have that ability to foresee how a contract or player may turn out, we don’t have the right to judge those moves based purely on hindsight.

So in this week’s episode of the San Jose Hockey Now Podcast, we decided to tackle the problem of objectively assessing the San Jose Sharks’ downfall – we discuss the contracts and perhaps an even larger factor.

As always, we start off with our recent news updates involving trade rumors surrounding Tomas Hertl, Alexander Barabanov, and perhaps surprisingly, Jake Middleton (3:40).

We then begin our talk about the San Jose Sharks’ current record and give a general overview of the season so far (23:50).

Then we objectively ask the question: How much blame does Doug Wilson deserve? (28:30)

We start off by discussing the main point of concern with most fans, the contracts. And who better to start with than Brent Burns, the first big contract (31:17)?

We move on to Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Martin Jones’s contracts (38:24), Evander Kane (48:13), Logan Couture (53:45), and of course, Erik Karlsson (1:01:06).

Sheng, by the way, remains a staunch supporter of the Vlasic contract.

We then break down the logic behind the San Jose Sharks moving on from Joe Pavelski (1:12:14). We also dig up a quote from Doug Wilson back in 2018 that might help to explain the Sharks’ thought process behind re-signing their veterans to massive contracts (1:19:00).

Sheng then offers the main reason for the team’s recent collapse – the Sharks’ lackluster drafting from 2013-16 (1:22:15).

We dive deep to help paint the picture as to how good teams back then like Boston and St. Louis have stayed on top as opposed to the Sharks or the Blackhawks (1:27:38).

We close the discussion with the question everyone is asking: Should Doug Wilson be fired? (1:47:45) This is a question asked in full respect of his health – we hope Doug gets better fast and soon – and is answered, once again, as objectively as possible.

We also elaborate on what Doug and the Sharks can do now and what it would take to get the San Jose Sharks back into playoff contention (1:55:42).

Follow the San Jose Hockey Now Podcast on Twitter — and listen here for all things San Jose Sharks:

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David Gotlieb

The thing that caused the issue with contracts wasn’t Burns contract exactly, that was just his was the first that happened. The actual issue is the 8/7 contract limits. Before there was a limit Doug was great at signing his stars with an internal cap of 5 years. Burns was the first Big Star to go UFA after the limits were in place. (Jumbo and Patty were already in the pattern of signing short team friendly deals) When Burns deal came up suddenly 8 years was “reasonable” (in comparison to some of the crazy deals before the limits) so Doug… Read more »

david barnard

talk about “revisionist” MJ was an above average starting NHL regular season goalie? not even at his best. his playoff performances were charitably above average but you don’t base contracts on small sample sizes in highly volatile situations. as for MEV, Sheng you wound me sir! are you sure nobody had a problem with his proposed contract as the numbers came out? nobody saw his decline in his contract season? iirc, there were a lot of fans commenting that he should be given the benefit of the doubt and a chance to come back and make that contract work. outside… Read more »

David Gotlieb

Most people I saw were in support of the MEV contract. And any decline in play was mostly placed on Braun bringing him down.

david barnard

that’s my point. i and a few others were the most vocal on the FtF boards against his proposed contract for the reasons stated. most fans wanted to make excuses for his decline in play (Braun, phantom concussion issues, phantom knee/injury issues, etc.) and that he’d bounce back to being that #1 line shutdown d-man. they were wrong and i was right, and it didn’t take very long for it to become evident to even the most ardent fan of MEV. despite Nick and Sheng’s front office apologist pod, it also didn’t take any Nostradamus level prognostication to see it… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by david barnard
Sheng Peng

despite Nick and Sheng’s front office apologist pod, it also didn’t take any Nostradamus level prognostication to see it IF you were willing to look honestly for it.

Is your implication that I’m not looking honestly at things?

david barnard

for that part (of the comment) i was thinking more along the comment section back and forth between the fans about it on FtF. however, when you guys start off this piece with the idea that it was revisionist to be critical of certain Sharks player contracts (MEV specifically) or that it would’ve taken some god-like powers to predict these player’s fall-offs/unrealized contract value, well, yeah i’m calling it a front office apologist type of piece. it’s at least some kind of rehab perspective on DW et al. and for what it’s worth, i don’t follow you and financially chip… Read more »

Sheng Peng

I appreciate your honesty and your perspective. But again, it’s not an apologist piece — it’s looking at things objectively best I can. Unfortunately, it looks like a lot of the old FTF comments are gone, maybe the HFBoards ones are still up — and hey, you were against it, so yes, hasty for me to say nobody was against it. That’s fair. But the comments I saw and the articles I read in my research were in line with what Greg wrote, that I quoted in the piece. So some dissenting voices like yours, but industry reaction was largely/all… Read more »

david barnard

i just believe DW has a big problem realizing when he should move on from certain players. look at ANA moving out 30 yo Manson for assets today. sure, the Sharks were in a different place (“The Window”) at the time, but i just keep going back to Bill Walsh and his philosophy of preferring to move too early rather than too late.

Sheng Peng

But then, you can argue now that he moved on Goodrow too quick? At least that was an example of not holding a guy too long for sure. I would guess, like any GM, Wilson is going to have his star guys, guys he has faith in, like Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski in the past — and then there’s a lower-tier who are supposed to support his stars. I would guess a Manson to Wilson would be like a Dillon/Braun — ultimately tradeable. Just a guess

Sheng Peng

Jones from 15-17 (contract signed 7/17) was 14th of 48 goalies (54+ games) in GSAx. If you toss in durability, playoff performance, age; this does not seem like an unreasonable contract. And is an above-average goalie. I respect that you were shouting against the Vlasic extension in 2017 — really. I wasn’t covering the team then, but in my memory and my research, there weren’t many dissenting voices. Regardless of that, it has to be remembered, and I said so on the pod, that these 8-year contracts, you’re just hoping for elite performance in the first half of the contract,… Read more »

david barnard

with MJ, his CH came in about 1% too high. i would’ve structured his deal more like Ben Bishop’s at the time (6.75% CH) and it would’ve been a 5-yr term, not 6. let’s just say i was concerned about a dramatic drop-off with MEV and that’s why i was so vociferous about the contract. he was elite all thru 2016-17, and “meh” the next season. the skating looked to be the biggest area of concern (and still is). but then the mental focus issues started creeping into his game. he’d let players get behind him on line changes, lose… Read more »

Sheng Peng

Now with Jones, we’re splitting hairs. Point is, as of Jul. 2017, it was a reasonable contract.

As for Vlasic, he signed on Jul. 2017, and you’re saying up to this point, he was still elite. So besides his age, what was telling the Sharks not to re-sign him then?

Yes, I grant that anybody can get complacent over time. Has that happened in San Jose? It’s possible. But there is no smoking gun telling me that.

david barnard

sorry got the dates wrong, i meant the SC season (2015-16). regardless, it was his contract season where he dropped off from elite to just being good (statistically from the top 95-100 percentile to the 70-80th percentile). they got 1 more good season out of him (85th percentile) and then over the falls he went: (10th percentile in 18-19), (8th percentile in 19-20), after which they dropped him to 3rd pair where he looked better against much easier comp (50the percentile in 20-21), (38th percentile in 21-22).

Sheng Peng

That stats pointed in the right direction, can’t argue with that. I’ll have to track back with the guys I know who scouted back then, what their perception was.

Maybe hockey people would pay more attention to those stats more these days insofar as they’d watch the tape more carefully. Not that the stats would drive the decision-making, I don’t see that even these days, but it would set off more alarm bells up top now than before.

Zeke

I criticized contracts for Kane (term) and Karlsson (cost). On the flip side, I called Vlasic and Jones ‘cornerstone’ contracts. Also thought Burns was a fair deal. As was Couture’s deal. With Jones, Couture and Vlasic, I thought they deserved a premium for their excellent playoff performance. Jones, for example, was a middle tier goalie (outside top 10, inside top 20) who came up big in the playoffs. I was also was critical of the deals for Simek and Labanc (won’t criticize shorter deals under $2mil). I also hate the Doughty thing and giving EK65 more $$. Greater fool theory.… Read more »

david barnard

at least with LC and MEV you’re talking about well over 100 playoff GP for each. with Jones at the time of his signing (July 1, 2017) you’re talking 30 playoff GP. and as it turned out, the Sharks only got 1 more “premium” playoff season out of him before he went over the falls with Vlasic. LC is an example of a player who has earned (thru consistency) a premium for his playoff production consistency. a true player who has a real full next level gear for “when it counts”. like Crosby level performances. so, while LC’s contract is… Read more »

Sheng Peng

Speaking of the drafts, that’s why I just divided games played by picks — because these were all good teams that were going to have bad draft positioning, but you gotta figure it out and draft well where you can. It’s worth looking to see if any of these top-10 teams goosed their numbers with higher picks (acquired via trade or whatever), but Boston didn’t really (Pastrnak late 1st, McAvoy mid-1st, Carlo 2nd). As for the years picked, I recognize Sharks had a great ’12 draft, mentioned it, and that ’17 was a demarcation point because that’s when Wilson Jr.… Read more »

david barnard

Bill Walsh theory incoming:

Walsh said he’d rather move a player a year early than a year late.

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