The San Jose Sharks have found themselves in unfamiliar territory.
For the first time since their early expansion days, they aren’t a consistent playoff contender in the Western Conference. The Sharks and their aging roster have missed the dance in back-to-back seasons and if they miss again in 2021-22, they’ll set their longest drought in franchise history.
Can a new goaltending duo bring this group back to life? Or are they just prolonging the inevitable by avoiding a rebuild?
What happened in 2021?
The Sharks were actually fairly competitive in 2021, an improvement over 2019-20 in which they tanked out of the gate and were essentially out of contention by November. On April 9 of 2021, they boasted a respectable 18-17-4 record and were thoroughly in the mix for a playoff spot, right near the St. Louis blues, who sat at 18-16-6.
After that, these two teams went in completely different directions.
The Sharks went 3-11-3 the rest of the way and finished second last in the West Division while the Blues went 9-4-3 and grabbed the division’s final playoff spot. The Blues wound up getting pumped by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round, but, still, I’m sure the Sharks would have enjoyed that honor.
Perhaps being in the mix for a good chunk of the season gave general manager Doug Wilson some renewed faith in the group, because he leaned into trying to improve the roster over the summer.