Sharks news for week ending 150801

Highlights: a few scheduling notes. Couture reiterates that Sharks will return to playoffs.

NHL announces NBC/SN schedule for 2015-16. Sharks are scheduled to be on NBCSN 11 times (unclear if any are exclusive national games, or pick up of CSNCA coverage).
SJSharks | CSN Sharks

San Jose Barracuda announce two preseason games (10/1 at Sharks Ice; 10/3 in Bakersfield)

Sportsnet: Sharks’ Logan Couture: ‘We’ll make the playoffs’

Sharks news for week ending 150725

Highlights: Peter DeBoer on local radio talking captaincy, OT format. Couture believes that the Sharks will be back in the playoffs (THN).

SJSharks

95.7 The Game: Peter DeBoer with Brodie Brazil (podcast)
Confirms that the Sharks will have a captain, and he’s liking the 3-on-3 OT format

SJ Merc – WTC: DeBoer reiterates that the Sharks will have a captain this season

CSN Sharks

NHL

THN

ESPN: Five teams poised for return to postseason
Including the “train wreck” Sharks

Greatest Hockey Legends looks at the career of now-retired Wayne Thomas

Boston Herald: Harris: Big winners from NHL offseason
Including the Sharks

Yahoo/Puck Daddy

How well have the changes to the roster improved the Sharks?

SJ Merc: Purdy: Have Sharks’ offseason moves made them a playoff team?

NHL roster departures:  Antii Niemi, Scott Hannan, Matt Irwin, John Scott

NHL roster additions:  Martin Jones, Paul Martin, Joel Ward

Is all of that going to be enough for a major boost in the standings? One of The Hockey News’ numerical meat grinders performed some calculations using the WAR (wins-against-replacement) statistic and declared that as a team, the Sharks have so far had the NHL’s second-best offseason in terms of boosting their victory expectations.

By the WAR metric, the Sharks have added 3.3 wins to their roster compared with a year ago. Only the Buffalo Sabres did better, with an addition of 4.4 wins.

And even with an additional 3.3 wins purely by these personnel changes, the Sharks still would not have made the playoffs in the 2014-15 season, being 10 points out (so needing those 6 WAR points AND at least five more from somewhere).

What needs to happen for the Sharks to return to the playoffs?  And is that enough to be a realistic contender for the Stanley Cup?

The Sharks will have to improve from within or upgrade the players further, plus get their mojo and fans back, to accomplish either.  (Or multiple teams ahead of them in the standings will have to fall back.)

First, the WAR metric does not address the issues of no captain and a new coach.

At the Sharks STH town hall (and reiterated in 7/23 radio interview), new head coach Peter DeBoer indicated the team will have a captain before the start of the season. So any issues with fractured leadership should be a thing of the past.  (But from the outside, I don’t think that leadership by committee was that big a deficit.) However, a single leader will allow the team to focus on supporting and following one man, and stop the speculation and distraction from not having one.  Very hard to discern the difference this will make.

A new coach and staff will bring new ideas to the team and play on the ice. The Sharks defensive play and PK are two areas that need to provide improve. (There are rumors that one or more additional assistant coaches will be added to the mix, so until that is finalized, and each coach’s responsibilities know, it’s just a guess as to what the team can accomplish with the new staff.)

Second, the WAR metric does not address the issue of a healthy Raffi Torres.

Torres may help the team draw more penalties with his abrasive style. In 2014-15, the Sharks drew 852 minutes of penalties, and had an efficacy rate 6th in the league at 21.6%.  In 2013-14, the Sharks drew 921 minutes of penalties, but only had an efficacy 20th in the league at 17.2%. So, in 14-15, even though they drew less penalties than the previous season, they got more results.  But with a healthy, Torres, they could increase the number of man advantage opportunities, and if they improve PP% further, they could add goals, leading to more wins.

In 14-15, Sharks had 31 one-goal games, including 9 regulation losses, and 15 that needed extra time. In 13-14, the Sharks had 43 one-goal games, 9 regulation losses, and 22 that needed extra time. So, those extra goals can help with those one-goal game deficits.

Third, the WAR metric does not address the mindset (and culture) of the team.

After their 2014 playoff fall out, some pundits have speculated that the malaise that precipitated it continued into the new season.  The team’s confidence definitely took a drop this past season.

Having clear leadership with a new captain, and a new voice and style from the coaching staff, may be exactly what is needed to revitalize and reinvigorate the psyches of the players and restore and renew the confidence that deteriorated.

Update 7/25: Couture mentions that he and other players will be motivated after a playoff miss.

Fourth, the WAR metric does not address the impact of fan support of the team.

The Sharks are known for a big home rink advantage, but 2014-15 definitely did not have it. Way before their February 2015 swoon, when the Sharks had no home wins for the month, their fan support was waning.

In 2014-15, the Sharks were tied for 10th with 18 home ROWs (regulation, overtime wins) and had one SOW (shoot out win).  In 2013-14, the Sharks were tied for 4th with 24 home ROWs, plus had five SOWs.

In 2014-15, the Sharks had only 24 sell outs. In 2013-14, they sold out their full season.

And what fans were there for home games in the 2015 calendar year, often voiced their displeasure at the home team based on the on-ice results (regardless of who was to blame: players, coaches, GM, owner, etc., which is beyond the scope of this article). Excluding some diehards, the arena often was half empty or more by the end of a losing game.

Thousands of season ticket holders did not renew their seats for the upcoming season (based on observed available seats at the select-a-seat event). Especially with the INCREASE in Sharks STH pricing.  The team has not announced (that I recall seeing) the STH retention %, nor the number of new STH.

Regardless of the changes made to date, I still get the sense that many fans are not happy that the ownership retained the GM, much less the ticket price increase.

Even with the lure of the 25th anniversary season, it may be that the team does not sell out at home and get the full support of the fans behind them until they  prove themselves on the ice.

(It won’t help attendance that the newly relocated AHL Barracuda will be sharing the arena and may be the focus of some Sharks fans on the future “stars” of the NHL team, rather than many of the aging stars of the current NHL roster that has not produced. This hockey option will be a much more affordable one compared to the NHL ticket pricing.)

 

Expectations from those external to the organization may be lessened with a most pundits thinking there’s no way the Sharks can return to the playoffs after just a handful of player and coaching moves.

Internal expectations and goals are still high (that the team will be able to make the playoffs AND go far).

What the reality will be won’t be known until the “opening night” roster is set and the puck drops on a new season.

But there is hope that the 25th Anniversary season 2015-2016 could be the best yet.

(And GM Wilson’s oft repeated mantra: he’s always looking to improve the team. And he’ll work on the 2015-16 roster until the trade deadline.)

Sharks news through 150718 and signings

A relatively quiet week.  The Barracuda sign Trevor Parkes.

RFA Daniil Tarasov defects (from NHL) and signs with KHL Dynamo.
SJMerc | CSN Sharks | THN

Former Shark Adam Burish, bought out, defiantly declares he’ll get a new NHL deal

CSN Sharks: DeBoer committed to playing Burns on Sharks’ blue line

SJMerc – WTC: Healthy again, Gabryel Boudreau aims to earn pro contract in the fall
Sharks draftee went unsigned and undrafted in return to draft after losing most of season to injury.

SJ Merc: Purdy: Have Sharks’ offseason moves made them a playoff team?
I’ll respond to this in a separate post.

Hockey’s Future: 2015 NHL Draft: San Jose Sharks draft review

Recapping Sharks development Camp (and signings) through 150712

Sharks had their draftees and some invitees in town for development camp (7/6-7/10).  Sharks hosted a STH town hall on Tuesday (7/9).  Prospects had a chance to strut their stuff in scrimmage Thursday 7/11.

David Pollak, of the San Jose Mercury News, announces his retirement.  (But he’ll still be writing about the Sharks for The Hockey News.)

Sharks town hall included a few announcements including:

  • All 82 regular season games will include a full pregame show on flagship 98.5 KFOX station (radio).  (Previously, games on the road in ET, CT and sometimes MT, that started on week days did not have a pregame on their flagship station.)
  • As part of the 25th anniversary celebration, the Sharks plan on bringing in a Sharks alum to drop the puck for every Saturday night game.

Signings this week:

  • Timo Meier signs ELC
  • Gus Young becomes first player to sign with AHL Barracuda

Former Sharks: Irwin signs with Bruins. Scott signs with Coyotes.

News recap

SJSharks

SJ Merc

CSN Sharks

Gackle Report

NHL

NBC/PHT

Yahoo/Puck Daddy

Recapping Sharks transactions through 150705

So, last summer, the Sharks did not pursue any key free agents, and did not pursue any significant trades.  As a consequence, they fell behind the other teams that moved forward, and actually fell back another step in part due to some chronic injuries and poor showing in the month of February.  As a consequence, the Sharks playoff streak was snapped, to the great consternation and disappointment of fans.

This year, the Sharks made a move after the draft to shore up their goal tending, and signed a handful of recognizable UFAs in the opening days of free agency.

That fills in most of the holes for the NHL roster, but there are still some openings that younger kids could fill.  For the rest of the summer, many of the signings may be positioned to be for the Barracuda.  It may also be that some of the try out players at this upcoming week’s development camp may allow the Sharks to fill some of those positions (or take notes for future moves).  7 of the 9 drafted players at last week’s draft will be participating in the development camp

On to the news:

To reiterate, the Sharks acquired Martin Jones on 6/30, and signed him to a three year extension (in advance of free agency opening, but it was not announced until 7/2).

On the opening day of free agency, the Sharks addressed their blueline, signing Paul Martin to a four year deal.

Longtime Sharks Front Office Executive Wayne Thomas Retires
Sharks announce Bob Boughner and Johan Hedberg as assistant coaches to Peter DeBoer

Sharks re-sign forward Bryan Lerg to one year deal 6/30, announced 7/2
Sharks sign former Shark forward John McCarthy to one year deal
Sharks re-Sign Forward Micheal Haley to one year deal

Sharks Sign Defenseman Patrick McNally. Acquired at draft for pick; collegiate graduate.  ELS deal; two years.

Sharks Sign UFA Defenseman Mark Cundari

Sharks Sign UFA Forward Joel Ward

Sharks 2015 Development Camp Roster Announced

No news out of the Sharks on 7/4 (a US Federal Holiday) and 7/5 (GM Wilson’s birthday).  Monday 7/6 begins the Sharks development camp.

General news

CSN Sharks

ESPN: Sharks look like contenders again

Free agency eve – news 150630

Sharks acquire goalie Martin Jones for a pick (2016 1st) and prospect (collegian Sean Kuraly); and sign to multi-year deal.  Rivalry intensifies. Sharks makes Dillion re-signing official.  Sharks announce qualifying offers. Lerg re-signed.

SJ Sharks: Sharks Acquire Goaltender Martin Jones from Bruins
SJ Merc | CSN Sharkstake 2 | Spectors Hockey | Sportsnet.ca | NBC/PHT | NHL | AP | CBS | NY Daily News | Gackle | Martin conf call | Wilson conf call
Agent confirms 3 year deal
NBC/PHT | Sportsnet.ca | CBS | Puck Daddy

SJSharks: Sharks Re-Sign Defenseman Brenden Dillon
Official announcement
SJ Merc | Conf call | AP

SJSharks: Sharks Issue Qualifying Offers
SJ Merc | CSN Sharks

Rumor: Former Shark-organization goalie Johan Hedburg hired as new Sharks goalie coach.

Lavoie indicates that UFA Bryan Lerg has been re-signed to one year deal.

Please note, I’ll be traveling until Sunday, so updates may be sporadic or non-existent.  Follow on Twitter for the latest.