The 2014-15 season is so very different from 02-03 (the last time the Sharks missed the playoffs).
First, we’re in the cap era now. (Back then you could “buy” your way out of trouble.) All kinds of contract management now that wasn’t even considered then.
Second, Shark defenseman Gary Suter announced his retirement in the summer of 2002. Arguably a much bigger loss than Boyle not re-signed this past summer.
Third, the team was “out” of the playoffs by Thanksgiving. (Head coach Darryl Sutter was fired the last week of November)
Similarly to this season, the Sharks did not do a lot of signing from the UFA market (unless you consider re-signing Selanne).
Looking at the 2002-03 roster:
- No player with “double digit” +/- positive rating.
- Sharks had not one “full time” D man with a + rating in 2002-2003 (Davison was the lone plus rating — +4 in 15 games). Rathje was blueline-worse at -19. (That season, the team started with “Rat and Rags”, as arguably the top defensive pair, but Ragnarson was traded for McGillis — who didn’t even last the season.)
- Selanne (28+36=64, -6), Damphousse (23+38=61, -13), Marleau (28+29=57, -10) were the only players with 50+ points on the season.