On Wednesday, San Jose Sharks owner Hasso Plattner released a statement expressing his support for general manager Doug Wilson’s recommendations that the coaching staff stay in place and that changes are needed to the current roster.
One day later, the makeover began as Wilson announced that defenseman Dan Boyle and forward Martin Havlat would not be back next season. Boyle is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, while Havlat still has one year left on his contract with a $5 million cap hit. (Wilson didn’t disclose exactly how Havlat would leave, whether through buyout or trade.)
Filling Boyle’s role will be Brent Burns, who will move back to defense -- a move that's already being questioned by Sharks fans.
“It’s not only that we lost, that really bothers us, it’s how we lost … we feel like we beat ourselves,” said Wilson on a Thursday conference call.
It’s the beginning of a roster transformation not just in response to blowing a 3-0 series lead to the Los Angeles Kings, but continual disappointment in the postseason. The core group of Sharks has tried to win a Stanley Cup, but fallen short. Wilson’s and McLellan’s jobs are safe for now and the GM already has an idea on how this team will change going forward.
“We will continue as we move towards a harder, younger, more aggressive team that will stay with it,” he said.
The Sharks have 17 players under contract next season with $60 million in salary committed and Wilson said that a big fix is needed and made it sound as if there are no untouchables.
“I think what we need to do is much more drastic than just putting a band-aid on it,” he said.
“When you enter into this type of phase, no options should be off the table. You explore everything.”
Eight Sharks are signed through at least next season (taking out Havlat) have some form of a no-more/no-trade clause. In order for this “drastic” approach by Wilson to be successful, he’ll need to get creative to move some bodies out.
Saying goodbye to Boyle, Havlat and making Burns a defenseman again doesn’t qualify as “drastic.” So does this mean any of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau could be gone? Thornton and Marleau just signed three-year extensions, while "Little Joe" is locked up through 2019.
Going by Wilson's words, those options will be pursued. But is it a good idea? You know what you have in this Sharks core: a group that can finish near the top of the overall standings on an annual basis. There's no special ingredient for success in the playoffs. It's about good goaltending, timely scoring and the fortunate bounce or three.
How "drastic" of a change is needed in San Jose?