Will the Sharks’ Cup Hopes expire with Thornton, Marleau and Boyle?
After almost eight straight years of knocking on the door of the Stanley Cup Finals, the San Jose Sharks’ window is finally closing. They’ve managed to keep a core group of players together through their primes but now those players are on their last legs. Many of the team’s key players are only signed for the next two seasons. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Dan Boyle are all free agents after that with only Couture being a restricted free agent. There aren’t five more important players on the team’s roster right now then those five. Those players are the team’s current leaders and the team will only go as far as those players can take them.
But does that mean the Sharks will not be competitive after that?
It’s safe to say a good portion of those players will be re-signed, probably not all, but a few. Couture would figure to not be going anywhere as he’s not yet entered the prime of his career and the Sharks would be able to match any offer given to him thanks to his restricted free agent status.
The team has already re-signed defensive cornerstone Marc-Edouard Vlasic to a deal well beyond those two years and the same goes for Brent Burns, who many hope will be Boyle’s eventual heir.
Antti Niemi is signed for one more season, but even if the Sharks let him go, the club still has a deep system of goaltending talent that could be ready to fill his vacancy at that time.
So, even though the same players will not be around, it doesn’t necessarily mean the team won’t be as good. Perhaps the new crop of youngsters they draft over the next few seasons become instant successes.
This past seasons’ first round pick, Tomas Hertl, is already one of the top prospects in NHL and he could be the start of the franchises future if they can make smart draft picks and develop prospects properly over the next few seasons.
The Sharks have always been an organization that prides itself on developing it’s own talent to fill voids when players leave. Because they’ve been able to develop late round draft picks like Joe Pavelski and Ryane Clowe, the team knows that it can count on similar success stories within the coming years.
That fact alone should keep the team competitive and possibly back as one of the Stanley Cup favorites very shortly.
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