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Sharks Locker Room: Will Things Get Any Better Next Year?

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Credit: Dean Tait/Hockey Shots

This season can’t end soon enough for the San Jose Sharks.

In their penultimate game this year, the Sharks were embarrassed 9-2 against the Edmonton Oilers.

It was their seventh defeat of six-or-more goals this season, the worst in the NHL this year – the Anaheim Ducks followed with four – and the most since their first two seasons. In 1991-92 and 1992-93, they had nine such lopsided losses in each campaign.

Is this season rock-bottom for the San Jose Sharks’ rebuild?

Let’s hope so, though it’s not clear how San Jose is going to be much better next season. Youngsters like William Eklund, Fabian Zetterlund, Thomas Bordeleau, Danil Gushchin, Henry Thrun, and others could improve, but of San Jose Hockey Now’s consensus top-five Sharks prospects, only Shakir Mukhamadullin seems likely to help the big club a lot next year.

Will Smith, Quentin Musty, David Edstrom, and Filip Bystedt are excellent prospects, but it’s hard to see them as big-time contributors in 2024-25, they’re too young.

Scouts Talk Top-10 Sharks Prospects

A healthy Logan Couture and Matt Benning should help, but that’s not a lot of veteran help coming in.

In short, the Sharks – and of course, we don’t know what they’ll do via free agency or trade in the off-season yet – might be, even if the names are much different, a very similar mix of overtaxed veterans and overmatched youngsters.

That’s a pessimistic take – and hey, another last-place campaign could give San Jose the best shot for the 2025 first-round pick, so there’s good in being bad – but it’s a realistic take.

“We all know where we’re at as an organization. When we got here two years ago, everybody knew we were gonna have to get worse before we get better. That’s just the reality,” San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn has repeated recently.
“You just look at all the players that we’ve traded and got rid of over the last two years so we can get better and be consistently good competing for Stanley Cups. This is what, unfortunately, this is what you have to suffer through.”

That’s all well and good, but it’ll be nice to suffer a little less, for the fans, for the young Sharks that you’re trying to turn into winners amidst loads of losing.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s real light at the end of the tunnel after next season, when the Sharks might have a better idea of what Eklund, Mukhamadullin, Smith, and hopefully, their 2024 first-round pick can bring to an NHL roster. San Jose will also be flush with cap space that summer, with Mikael Granlund, Vitek Vanecek, Jan Rutta, and Brent Burns’s retention coming off the books.

Or maybe the Sharks have a plan this off-season, to at least be more competitive in 2024-25.

David Quinn

Quinn, on trying to avoid putting Georgi Romanov in a tough spot:

That’s kind of what my thought process was. I wanted to avoid putting Georgi in as much as I could, but at some point in time, you gotta call off the dogs and take out Cools and put in Georgi.

Quinn, on how San Jose Sharks can avoid losses like this moving forward:

We all know where we’re at as an organization. When we got here two years ago, everybody knew we were gonna have to get worse before we get better. That’s just the reality.

I think we all know the answer to that question, right? We’re in the middle of something that is going well, despite the results we’re getting right now. I’ve said this repeatedly, we’re in a much better position to get better, quicker than we were two years ago.

You just look at all the players that we’ve traded and got rid of over the last two years so we can get better and be consistently good competing for Stanley Cups. This is what, unfortunately, this is what you have to suffer through. That’s the answer. I wish I could give you a different one, but that is the answer. I think there’s a lot of subjectivity to that.

Mario Ferraro

Ferraro, on the message during the first intermission:

I think the message really was to try and get us playing hockey and playing with the puck.

I saw we played like we didn’t want it. We were sitting back, we weren’t playing on our toes. That obviously hurt us. A couple guys stepped up and said a few things, let’s just get back to playing hockey and having some fun and try to possess the puck and try and make plays. Obviously, it was a tough one for us.

But that was really what I thought went wrong today. We maybe looked at the line-up on the other end, and we played scared in the first period. Had, obviously, a snowball effect.

Luke Kunin

Kunin, on why the San Jose Sharks got steamrolled by the Edmonton Oilers:

We obviously know the talent they have over there, the skill, the speed they play with. We didn’t do enough things right on our end to limit those chances in the first two periods.

We talked a lot about having a good F3. Our D were pinching, that F3 was getting beat, a lot odd-man’s up ice. Against this team, you’re gonna pay.

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