The 2022-23 NHL season starts on October 7. With training camps open, NHL.com takes a look at the three keys, the inside scoop on guard issues and the projected lineup for each of the 32 teams. Today is the San Jose Sharks.
Coach: David Quinn (first season)
Last season: 32-37-13, sixth in Pacific Division; did not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs
1. Quinning time
Quinn has another shot at coaching in the NHL after the 56-year-old was fired by the New York Rangers on May 12, 2021. He guided the United States to a fifth-place finish at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, and what lies ahead is a team in transition that has missed the Stanley Cup playoffs for three straight seasons after qualifying for 14 of the previous 15. Sharks added forwards Nico Sturm, Luke Kunin, Oscar Lindblom and Steven Lorentzand defenders Matt Benning and Markus Nutivara. But San Jose needs top prospects William Eklund and Thomas Bordeleau to eventually spark an offense that ranks 30th in the NHL in goals per game. game over the past three seasons (2.58) and tied for 25th on the power play (17.1 percent). Logan Couture (23 goals) was the lone striker apart Timo Meier (35) and Thomas Hertl (30) to score at least 20 goals. San Jose averaged 2.57 goals per game last season, third fewest behind the Arizona Coyotes (2.51) and Philadelphia Flyers (2.56).
2. Meier’s future
Meier has yet to speak with new general manager Mike Grier about a new contract. The chairman said during the NHL European Player Media Tour on Aug. 24 that the two have gotten to know each other through phone conversations. Meier is entering the final season of a four-year contract and can become a restricted free agent.
3. Who is No. 1?
Goalkeepers James Reimer and Kaapo the Kahkon is likely to be on the opening list. The question is whether a No. 1 emerges or the Sharks go with a timeshare. Reimer, 34, was 19-17-10 with a 2.90 goals-against average, .911 save percentage and one shutout in 48 games (46 starts) last season; Kahkonen, 26, was 2-6-1 with a 2.86 GAA and .916 save percentage in 11 games (10 starts) after being acquired in a March 21 trade with the Minnesota Wild. Quinn said, “We love our goaltending depth. “, but there is something to be said for the fact that the Sharks have added nine goaltenders to the organization in the last 12-13 months.
Video: Timo Meier’s future with the San Jose Sharks
Making the cut
It’s not if, but when Eklund, who turns 20 on Oct. 12, and Bordeleau, a 20-year-old, will move a veteran out of the lineup. They will compete with a host of forwards included Jasper Weatherbya 24-year-old selected in the fourth round (No. 108) of the 2018 NHL Draft, and Evgeny Svechnikova 25-year-old who signed a one-year contract on September 6. The Detroit Red Wings’ No. 19 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft has 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 113 NHL games and did not receive a qualifying offer from the Winnipeg Jets.
Most exciting addition
Kunin starts over with the Sharks. The 24-year-old signed a two-year contract on July 18, 10 days after being traded from the Nashville Predators. He was the only Predators skater to play in 82 games, and his 13 goals tied for sixth among their forwards. The 15th pick of the Wild in the 2016 NHL Draft will play for his third NHL team, but was playing his best hockey (31 points; 15 goals, 16 assists in 63 games) when the 2019-20 season was put on hold due to concerns about the coronavirus. The Sharks are in dire need of depth scoring, and Kunin could provide that if he gets back on track.
Biggest potential surprise
Alexander Barabanov looks like a late bloomer. He signed a two-year contract May 9 to stay with the Sharks after setting NHL career highs of 10 goals, 29 assists and 39 points in 70 games, the 28-year-old’s first full season in the NHL. Since being acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 21, 2021, Barabanov is fifth among Sharks skaters in assists (33) and points (46) in 79 games. He is expected on the top line with Meier and Hertl. If it clicks, Barabanov could be an unexpected source of offense with close to or over 20 goals.
Ready to break through
It appears to be Eklund’s time to show why he went No. 7 in the 2021 NHL Draft and No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings of international skaters. He started last season with the Sharks and had four assists in nine games before returning to Djurgardens of the Swedish Hockey League, where he had 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 29 games.
Eklund was the SHL Rookie of the Year in 2020-21, posting 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 40 games despite emergency appendectomy and a positive test for COVID-19.
Fantasy sleeping cabin
Eklund, LW (undrafted average in fantasy) — Three of Eklund’s assists came on the power play before he gained more professional experience in the SHL. He could be a fantasy rookie sleeper if he lands in the top six with a productive center in either Hertl and Couture and on the first power play with elite wing Meier and defenseman bounce-back candidate Erik Karlsson and under new coach Quinn. — Pete Jensen
Timo Meier — Tomas Hertl — Alexander Barabanov
Noah Gregory — Logan Couture — Kevin Labanc
Oskar Lindblom — Nico Sturm — Luke Kunin
Matt Nieto — Nick Bonino — Steven Lorentz
Mario Ferraro — Erik Karlsson
Marc-Edouard Vlasic — I work Simek
Matt Benning — Markus Nutivaara
Kaapo the Kahkon
Hurt: Nikolai Knyzhov (Achilles tendon)