The season ended in disappointment but in familiar fashion. For the 13th time in 15 seasons, the San Jose Sharks failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Final.
The Sharks fell to the St. Louis Blues in six games in the Western Conference Finals. After Erik Karlsson’s Game 3 overtime game winner – one that shouldn’t have counted – the Blues outscored San Jose 12-2 over the next three games.
San Jose had to play the latter part of Game 5 and all of Game 6 without Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, and Tomas Hertl due to injury. The Sharks face tough decisions on two of those three while also waiting to see whether Joe Thornton retires or not.
Karlsson was acquired prior to this past season in a move where the Sharks sent four players to Ottawa to get the two-time Norris Trophy winner. The move was a sign the Sharks were going all-in by taking Karlsson on the last year of his seven-year deal he signed in 2012.
The move proved to be worth it as San Jose finished 30-16-7 in the 53 games Karlsson played. Unfortunately, injuries held him out of 29 games in the regular season. In the games he played, Karlsson had 45 points, 42 coming from assists.
San Jose had hoped to re-sign Karlsson to a deal following the trade deadline when they could have signed him to an eight-year deal. Karlsson decided it would be best that the two sides hold off on contact regarding an extension until the off-season, risking that the 29-year-old hit the open market.
Karlsson isn’t the only decision the Sharks have to make regarding a possible extension. Pavelski has played his entire 13-year career in the Teal and Black. While he hasn’t gotten much league-wide recognition, being named to just one All-Star Game, Pavelski has been a centerpiece to the Sharks, scoring at least 20 goals every season since the strike shortened 2012-13 season.
This season was the last on Pavelski’s five-year deal he signed in 2014 and the career-Shark is now 34-years-old. There have been no signs of negotiations between the two sides and the Sharks will have a lot to consider with the Pavelski decision.
If this past season proved anything, it’s that Pavelski can still play at a high-level, scoring a team-leading 38 goals, a 16-goal increase from his 2017-18 total.
General manager Doug Wilson has been in this position before. In 2017, the Sharks had the same decision to make with Patrick Marleau. Marleau up until that point had played the entirety of his 19-year career with San Jose and was looking to sign at least a three-year deal. Wilson didn’t budge and the franchise cornerstone signed his three-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Pavelski has been an important piece to the Sharks for more than a decade and Wilson would likely love to have him back. But as shown with Marleau, Wilson will have him back at his price. It is a possibility that Pavelski has played his last game with San Jose.
If the past 15 years has shown anything for the Sharks is that regardless of how much change there is, San Jose will still be in the thick of things come playoff time. This off-season might see a lot of change for the Sharks and it could be one that could change the course of the franchise.