While eight teams remain in contention for the Stanley Cup, the other 22 are already in off-season mode. And with that being the case, experts, fans, and even team employees themselves are wondering who will and will not return to their respective clubs.
So what about the San Jose Sharks? What can we expect from “Team Teal” after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs?
Well, changes are inevitable whether a team wins the Cup, finishes in the final four or the bottom four.
So things will certainly be different in San Jose come next season.
But just how different? Only time will tell and in subsequent articles we will delve into the probable departures from the Sharks roster.
Today however, we focus on the guaranteed returns to the Sharks for the 2012-13 season. Is it October already, Sharks fans?
Without further ado, the guarantees:
Joe Thornton (C)
No doubt about it, Thornton will return. He’s the captain, the best player, and he puts in the work game in and game out. He’s a dynamite leader and a true two way player. One of the best in the game.
Logan Couture (C, LW)
GM Doug Wilson wouldn’t trade him for Rick Nash during the season and won’t do so after the season. Couture is a young center on the rise and like Thornton, he is a true two way player. He will certainly be the face of the Sharks for years to come.
Joe Pavelski (C, RW)
One of, if not the most underrated player in all of hockey. Two-way player, face-off stud, can pass, shoot, is slithery along the boards, has a knack for coming up clutch (despite 0 points against St. Louis in playoffs this past season) and can do just about everything asked of him. At a cap hit of just $4.0 million, lots of bang for your buck.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic (D)
When you talk about elite shut down defenseman, the list isn’t lengthy but Vlasic is on it. Cap hit of $3.1 million, another splendid contract for the Sharks.
Brent Burns (D)
Burns certainly did not have the first year with San Jose that he would have liked. But before the season he signed a long term extension to stay in the Bay Area. There is no chance the Sharks would even consider giving up on him that fast.
Martin Havlat (RW)
Like Burns, Havlat didn’t make the first impression one would draw up for themselves. Havlat was hurt for most of the season but did play well down stretch and into postseason. He has a no-trade clause and is under contract for a few more years. Like Burns, the Sharks won’t consider giving up on Havlat after just one year.
Douglas Murray (D)
Murray had a tough year with injuries this past season. And in a league that is getting younger and faster by the minute, Murray may not last much longer in the NHL. With his physical style of play, the body will likely fail him earlier than expected. He is under contract at a reasonable $2.5 million but because of the role he plays his trade value is rather minimal. He can still be an effective defensive defenseman but isn’t what many teams are looking for on the blue-line. No chance he is traded this offseason.
Tommy Wingels (RW)
The rookie right wing played in 33 games this past season, up from the cup of tea (five games) played a year prior. In those 33 contests Wingels showed an impressive ability to play effectively as part of a top scoring line and as part of a grinding line. He has potential similar to that of former Shark teammate Jamie McGinn. In fact, some experts have said Wingels’ presence led to McGinn being expendable. Wingels may be an RFA this offseason, but it’s a safe bet to bank on him returning to the Sharks.
Andrew Desjardins (C)
Also a rookie, Desjardins proved effective all year long as a fourth line grinding center. He plays with passion, is good along the boards and simply does his job. Seventeen points and a plus-4 during the regular season and was one of just four Sharks forwards to score in their five playoff games. Desjardins was also in the plus in the series with St. Louis. Like Wingels, Desjardins is an RFA but will certainly be back in teal.
Thomas Greiss (G)
San Jose’s backup goaltender this past season proved that at the very least he can be a capable backup. Under contract for next season, he will almost certainly be back in some capacity.