NHL Pacific Division Reset: San Jose Sharks

Sharks hire Grier as general manager, Quinn as coach

Trade Burns, boost forward depth with Kunin, Lindblom, Sturm

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

2021-22 season: 32-37-13, sixth in Pacific Division; did not qualify for Stanley Cup Playoffs

Key arrivals

Nico Sturm, F: The 27-year-old signed a three-year contract with the Sharks on July 13. Sturm had 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in 74 games with the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche last season, and helped the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup with two assists in 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games. … Luke Kunin, F: The 24-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Nashville Predators on July 8, and signed a two-year contract July 18. Kunin had 22 points (13 goals, nine assists) in 82 games last season. … Oskar Lindblom, F: The 25-year-old signed a two-year contract July 13 after having the final season of his three-year contract bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers. Lindblom had 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 79 games last season. … Steven Lorentz, F: The 26-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes on July 13, and signed a two-year contract July 22. Lorentz had 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in 63 games last season. … Matt Benning, D: The 28-year-old signed a four-year contract July 13. Benning had 11 points, all assists, in 65 games last season. … Markus Nutivaara, D: The 28-year-old signed a one-year contract July 13. Nutivaara was limited to one game with the Florida Panthers last season because of a lower-body injury. He had 10 points, all assists, in 30 games with the Panthers in 2020-21. He hasn’t played a full season since 2018-19, when he had 21 points (five goals, 16 assists) in 80 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets. … Mike Grier, general manager: The Sharks hired the 47-year-old July 5. Grier is the first Black general manager in NHL history. He replaced Doug Wilson, who stepped down as the GM after 19 seasons because of health reasons April 7. … David Quinn, coach: The Sharks hired the 55-year-old July 26, replacing Bob Boughner, who had been fired July 1. Quinn previously coached the New York Rangers from 2018-21, going 96-87-25.

Key departures

Brent Burns, D: Was traded to the Hurricanes on July 13 for Lorentz, goalie prospect Eetu Makiniemi and a conditional third-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. Burns had 54 points (10 goals, 44 assists) in 82 games last season. The Norris Trophy winner in 2016-17 has played in 679 consecutive games, the second-longest streak among active players behind Phil Kessel (982).

On the cusp

William Eklund, F: The No. 7 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft played nine games with the Sharks at the start of last season and had four points, all assists. The 19-year-old was reassigned to Djurgarden in the Swedish Hockey League on Nov. 5, where he had 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 29 games. … Thomas Bordeleau, F: The 20-year-old had five points, all assists, in eight games with the Sharks after signing a three-year, entry-level contract April 16. He had 37 points (12 goals, 25 assists) in 37 games as a sophomore at the University of Michigan. Bordeleau was a second-round pick (No. 38) in the 2020 NHL Draft.

What they still need

More playmakers in their top-six forward group. The Sharks addressed their bottom-six forward depth with the additions of Sturm, Lorentz, Kunin and Lindblom, but more is needed on the top two lines to go with Logan CoutureTimo Meier and Tomas Hertl. San Jose missed the playoffs for the third straight season after averaging 2.57 goals per game, third-fewest in the NHL behind the Arizona Coyotes (2.51) and Philadelphia Flyers (2.56).

They said it

“If we can get everybody to be just a little bit better. We’re not asking a guy to go from five goals to 40. We’re not asking a guy to do a thing he’s not capable of doing. But what we want everybody to do is do the things they can do just a little bit better. If you’ve got 23 people being five to 10 percent better, that’s the difference between making the playoffs and not.” — Sharks coach David Quinn

Fantasy focus

Defenseman Erik Karlsson could see his fantasy value increase after Burns was traded to the Hurricanes. Karlsson was 14th among NHL defensemen at 0.70 points per game (minimum 50 games) last season, which was ahead of Burns (0.66; T-17th). With Burns’ departure, Karlsson almost certainly will play on the first power play full time, which means exposure to valuable forwards Meier, Hertl and Couture. Karlsson, who had 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists) in 33 games before missing 15 games with a forearm injury sustained Jan. 20, is a fantasy bounce-back candidate and should be considered a fringe top-25 defenseman and top-130 player for this season. — Anna Dua

Projected lineup

Timo Meier — Tomas Hertl — Alexander Barabanov

Noah Gregor — Logan Couture — Kevin Labanc

Oskar Lindblom — Nico Sturm — Luke Kunin

Matt Nieto — Nick Bonino — Steven Lorentz

Mario Ferraro — Erik Karlsson

Nikolai Knyzhov — Markus Nutivaara

Marc-Edouard Vlasic — Matt Benning

James Reimer

Kaapo Kahkonen

Source: nhl.com

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