2022 NHL Free Agency: What is Mike Grier’s first Sharks off-season plan?

“[We want to be] Tenacious, very competitive, in your face – a hard team to play against fast and hard. That’s what you see when you watch the playoffs, that’s what wins in this league, and that’s what we hope to be.”

That’s what Mike Greer said during his first press conference as CEO San Jose Sharks. The Sharks have since made many moves to try to bolster the bottom six with NHL caliber players. Free agency saw the team replace Jonathan Dahlen and Rudolph Balcers with Oskar Lindblom, Luke Kunin, Steven Lorenz and Niko Sturm. Young players like Scott Reedy, Thomas Bordeaux and Noah Gregor, who had promising ends to the 2021-2022 season and seemed safe bets to be on the opening night roster, will now have to fight for their lives in training camp this fall.

So what did we learn from Greer’s first season? The rookie GM takes a “general depth” approach to team building. There are many ways to build a team and he wants a competitive team that can “play all four lines” of hockey. It’s a bit of a different approach than we’ve seen from longtime GM Doug Wilson, who took a bit more of a “stars and scrubs” approach to team building.

Both styles can work, as we’ve seen in recent years.

The “stars and scrubs” approach has a core of difference makers at the top and hope you find enough cheap, quality talent to fill the holes. God Tampa Bay Lightning There are many resources related to the top talent of Viktor Hedman, Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Andrei Vasilevskiy. The hope is that this core is so special that they can help cover some of the weak spots on the roster and that free agents will get a discount to come play to win the Cup. It also helps when a player is out of contract and that money can be used elsewhere (Hey, Braden Point and your three-year, $6.75 million deal).

That was the approach the Sharks used when the slump began a few seasons ago. The team had $47.25 million tied to Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Logan Couture, Evander Kane and Martin Jones. That’s 58 percent of the then $81.5 million salary cap at six players. Players like Timo Meyer, Thomas Hertl, and Kevin LaBank (before his big extension) easily outperformed their entry-level contracts and RFAs, while young, cheap players would fill out the roster (remember Daniil Yurtykin and Leanne Bergman?).

It, of course, didn’t work and the 2019-20 season was the beginning of the end, as the Sharks went 29-36-5, head coach Pete DeVore was fired, the season was brought to an early end due to a pandemic and the team did not qualify for the postseason bubble. With an aging roster, a shallow prospect pool and no wiggle room in cap space, San Jose appeared to be on the brink.

But you know that. That’s not to say that Doug Wilson’s approach was wrong or short-sighted, it just didn’t work. If the Sharks had won the Cup in 2016 or 2019 — as close as they’ve come in recent memory — we wouldn’t care if the Sharks were in their current state, as long as there’s that sweet championship cloth to fall back on. .

Fast forward to last winter, when Doug Wilson took time off and eventually stepped down from the club in April. After a long search, Mike Greer had to turn the franchise around.

While Grier mentioned that “there may be some bumps in the road ahead, and we may have to take a little step back to move forward,” he clearly doesn’t want to burn things out Arizona Coyotes-mode type. So Greer is trying a different approach of adding NHL caliber players to the bottom of the roster. Oskar Lindblom, Luke Kunin, Niko Sturm and Steven Lorenz have played over 750 combined NHL games. They know what their roles are and the idea is to provide stability to a bottom six that has been lacking since the days of the third line of Thornton, Sorenson and Labanc.

We have seen this model in action as recently as 2018-19 St. Louis Blues. This team could run four quality lines and had scoring depth. The roster boasted 15 players with over 20 points during the regular season, with Ryan O’Reilly’s 77 points leading the way. This is the lowest amount of a Stanley Cup-The winning team’s leading scorer since 2014-15 Chicago Blackhawks When Jonathan Toews only scored 66 points (Patrick Kane would have passed 77 points if not for injury, as he totaled 64 points in 61 games).

Will the 2022-23 Sharks turn blue and shock the world by winning the Cup? Probably not – unless Kapo Kahkonen steps up and becomes the best goalkeeper in the league for the season (hopefully without the tantrums), Erik Karlsson returns to Norris form, Timo Meier is a Hart candidate, William Ackland is a Calder candidate and the newly assembled bottom-six becomes a consistent producer.

But will someone please not think of the children? The likes of William Acland, Thomas Bordeaux, Scott Reidy and Jasper Weatherby all showed flashes of quality last season, but with a deeper bottom six, those players have a much tougher path to the opening night squad than they did four weeks ago. With the expectation of William Akund, expect all of these players to start the season with the San Jose Barracuda.

As hard as it will be not to watch the future of the organization play with the parent club every night, Mike Greer wants these young stars to be fully prepared for the NHL by having to earn their jobs. In recent seasons, it’s been much easier for players to reach the bottom of the roster, as the Sharks haven’t had an abundance of NHL-quality players, and the previous two coaching staffs have been reluctant to give young players any NHL reps. top-six The expectation now is that players like Bordeaux, Reedy Weatherby will not only produce points with what should be a much improved Coda roster, but also play in all situations and prepare to be every night NHL players, so when they are ready. , there is no yo-yo between clubs.

Mike Greer was honest in his plan: he wants the team to be competitive, not just against other teams, but within the organization. He relies on a more complete team that compensates for the lack of superstar talent in the organization.

will it work We shall see.

2022 NHL Free Agency: What is Mike Grier’s first Sharks off-season plan? Source link 2022 NHL Free Agency: What is Mike Grier’s first Sharks off-season plan?

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