Welcome to the “NHL Stanley Cup window” series. A series that focuses on the current Stanley Cup window of teams around the NHL.
Each article provides an overview of a team’s current window of opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. We will also discuss improvements a team needs to make, to be considered a serious Cup contender. Finally, we will give a realistic prediction and forecast of a team’s likelihood to win a championship in the near future.
This time around, we head out to the Bay area, and take a look at one of the most dominant regular season teams, for much of the past two decades, the San Jose Sharks.
San Jose Sharks’ current cup window
Simply put, the San Jose Sharks’ current window of opportunity to win a Stanley Cup is incredibly narrow. Some may argue that it has already closed, especially with teams like the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators, quickly emerging as new contenders in the Western Conference.
However, I am a firm believer that the Stanley Cup playoffs are almost impossible to predict, and any team that gets in has a chance to win it all. With that said, the San Jose Sharks organization is currently at a major crossroad, making this offseason a very pivotal one for GM Doug Wilson and his management team. They have some very tough decisions to make, especially with long-time veterans, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, who are unrestricted free agents this summer.
Given the current makeup of this team, if they choose to move on from Thornton and Marleau, their chances of winning a cup within the next few years is likely over. Therefore, I believe the most logical step to take, is to bring back the pair on affordable short-term deals and add the additional pieces required, for a shot at the Stanley Cup.
What the Sharks need to do to be Stanley Cup contenders
The San Jose Sharks have a solid core still in place, featuring the likes of Brent Burns, Martin Jones, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton (if re-signed). The Sharks have most of the pieces they need to become competitive next year. But, to become serious Cup contenders, they will likely need to make a big splash this summer. Quite frankly, Joe Thornton isn’t the dominant first line center he once was, and they are in need of someone who can take over that role.
In an ideal scenario, they can acquire a player like John Tavares, Matt Duchene or any center of that caliber. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but this is probably the only move that can catapult the Shark’s back into Stanley Cup conversation next year.
After that, they should focus on making other necessary moves to improve the team. Which includes, adding one or two proven depth forwards, and a quality depth defenseman. Finances aside, going after some proven names like T.J Oshie, Justin Williams, or Karl Alzner are the type of moves they should be making.
Finally, they must find a way to inject some youth (Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, Danny O’Regan) with speed and skill, into their lineup. This is an element that has been missing and can’t be overlooked, especially if they want to keep pace with all younger teams in the Western Conference.
San Jose Sharks Stanley Cup predictions
No doubt it will not be an easy road for the Sharks to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals. Unlike other teams, the Sharks have age working against them. Addressing all the things on their “to-do list” will be a tall order. But at the same time, this is probably the only feasible way for management to do their due diligence, and give their team a shot to compete next year.
Powerhouse teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks, are still in the mix. Along with, the emergence of new contenders in the Nashville Predators and the Edmonton Oilers. The Sharks will need all the help they can get to come out of the west. Assuming that teams like the Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, and Arizona Coyotes, don’t get better next year.
It is not impossible, but a lot of things must fall into place, and it starts with management making the right moves this offseason. Realistically, the Sharks have one, or a generously two-year window to win it all, with this group.
Regardless of what happens, the team will likely see a major facelift within the next couple seasons. So the real question becomes – will they be able to salvage the immediate future with a Stanley Cup win, or will they have turned the page to see better days?
What do you think is the Sharks’ window of opportunity to allow them to win a Cup? Comment below.
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