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Should the Sharks take a stab at acquiring Islanders’ Tavares?

Should the Sharks take a stab at acquiring Islanders’ Tavares?
If it was possible to plant a computer chip in Sharks general manager Doug Wilson’s brain to read his thoughts for just 24 hours, Saturday would be the perfect day to attempt such an experiment.

 which means that Wilson’s eyes will be glued on John Tavares,The New York Islanders will be in town for a showdown at the SAP Center, a pending-unrestricted free agent who could be the biggest name to hit the open market in at least a decade.

 post up in the slot and create scoring chances for his teammates,When Wilson watches Tavares blaze down the ice, will he simply be appreciating the talent of one of the game’s top two-way centers or will he see him as the solution to the biggest puzzle he’s faced in his 14-year tenure as the Sharks top decision maker?

As Joe Thornton enters his twilight years in the wake of Patrick Marleau’s departure to Toronto, Wilson is attempting to pull off what only one team has been able to accomplish in the salary cap era. He’s trying to give his squad a heart transplant while maintaining its status as a perennial Stanley Cup contender in the Western Conference.

 the Detroit Red Wings managed to transition away from its core of Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan to a group led by Pavel Datsyuk,Through tremendous scouting and drafting, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Lidstrom last decade without missing the playoffs. Most teams take a nose dive into irrelevancy once their core players reach their expiration dates.

 Wilson will need to find a way to acquire another Olympic-caliber player to complement his revamped core of Brent Burns,But if the Sharks are going to be a force in the Pacific Division for the rest of this decade and beyond, Logan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

 Major League Baseball,And netting a big fish is a lot trickier in the NHL than say, where well-heeled teams can just throw large wads of cash at the best free agents every winter.

In hockey, Patrick Kane, Evgeni Malkin,[url=http://www.penguinsofficialhockey.com/adidas-evgeni-malkin-jersey]Authentic Evgeni Malkin jersey[/url], the top players seldom hit the open market. Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos and Anze Kopitar all signed maximum contract extensions with their respective clubs instead of entering unrestricted free agency (Burns did the same with the Sharks last fall).

 too. Every team is dealing with tight-financial restrictions,[url=http://www.penguinsofficialhockey.com/adidas-phil-kessel-jersey]Authentic Phil Kessel jersey[/url],Blockbuster trades are getting harder and harder to pull off in the salary cap era, so it’s challenging to find a dance partner with cap space and needs that line up in perfect synchronicity.

 a rarity in the modern NHL, but they also had blue line depth,The Nashville Predators managed to pull off two such trades over the last couple of seasons,[url=http://www.penguinsofficialhockey.com/adidas-sidney-crosby-jersey]Authentic Sidney Crosby jersey[/url], so they had the ability to dangle the pieces that everyone so desperately needs.

 Tavares could wind up being the exception this summer or at the trade deadline because of the continued uncertainly hovering over the Islanders arena situation,With that being said, giving the Sharks a unique opportunity to acquire an elite player in his prime years.

 is said to be content with the franchise that selected him with the first-overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, 27,[url=http://www.penguinsofficialhockey.com/adidas-matt-murray-jersey]Authentic Sidney Crosby jersey[/url],Although Tavares, he knows that it will be hard to attract a high-quality supporting cast until the team locks down a permanent home.

 it’s unclear whether they’ll return to Nassau Coliseum (a scenario that commissioner Gary Bettman is opposed to) or attempt to build a new arena in Belmont Park or next to Citi Field, and at this point,The Islanders will be leaving the Barclays Center in Brooklyn after the 2018-19 season, the home of the New York Mets.

 Tavares isn’t going to commit to the team on a longterm basis until this situation is cleared up,[url=http://www.sharkshockeyshop.com/adidas-joe-pavelski-jersey]Authentic Joe Pavelski jersey[/url],In short, which isn’t likely to happen overnight if history has taught us anything.

As a result, Tavares should be an appetizing option for the looming post-Thornton era of Sharks hockey.

He’s scored 0.91 points per game during his eight seasons in the league, reached the 30-goal mark in three of the last four seasons in which he’s played more than 70 games and he plays a hard two-way style of hockey that meshes with head coach Pete DeBoer’s defense-first approach.

Acquiring Tavares would also give the Sharks a shot of replicating the Thornton-Couture dynamic down the middle that’s given opposing coaches matchup nightmares over the last seven years.

But cap science is tricky in the NHL and the potential cost of signing Tavares to a longterm deal should give Wilson reason to book a few sessions with a therapist.

 giving them plenty of cash to throw around. But Tavares will likely command about $80 million over eight years,[url=http://www.sharkshockeyshop.com/adidas-joe-pavelski-jersey]adidas Joe Pavelski jersey[/url], Joel Ward’s $3.275 million and Jannik Hansen’s $2 million come off the books,The Sharks should have about $17.5 million in cap space next summer when Thornton’s $8 million, so the Sharks would really be locking themselves in by bringing him aboard.

 too,The team already owes Burns $8 million a year through the 2024-25 season, he would basically be relegating the Sharks to Chicago Blackhawks status where most of his budget is tied up in a few players, Vlasic $7 million a year through 2025-26 and Couture will deserve $8 million-plus when he hits the market following the 2018-19 campaign. If Wilson were to throw Tavares on the books, requiring him to fill out his depth with unknown commodities on a near-annual basis.

It’s also unclear whether Tavares will continue to be a dominant player into his 30s. The NHL continues to get younger and faster every year and speed has never been the name of Tavares’ game. Tavares’ production has dipped in each of his last three seasons, too, raising serious questions about whether he’ll be worth anywhere near $10 million three or four years down the road.

A better option for the Sharks would be trading for Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, who’s speed and skill meshes perfectly with the fast-paced nature of the modern game. A Duchene trade appears to be unlikely, though, considering the asking price and Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic’s insistence on landing a bonafide top-four defenseman in return.

Despite the uncertainly a few things are clear: Marleau is gone, Thornton is aging quickly and the Sharks will need to make a splash sooner than later to stay in the mix.

Suffice it to say, Tavares will give Wilson plenty to think about this weekend and beyond.

Defenseman Paul Martin continues to nurse a day-to-day lower-body injury. DeBoer said he will be sidelined for the Sharks bout with the Islanders Saturday night.

Hockey fans in the Bay Area know by now that Joe Thornton is returning to the San Jose Sharks and Patrick Marleau is not. That was the headline news coming out of free agency shortly after the calendar flipped to July.

Of course, the dog days of the NHL offseason kick in after that, without much news between 4th of July weekend and the start of training camp in September. General managers, front office staffs and, most importantly, hockey writers all squeeze in some significant vacation time during that period.

Still, there are always items of interest that pop up from time to time, so let's briefly recap the notable announcements the Sharks have made over that span and what they mean.

July 3: Sharks name Rob Zettler assistant coach

What it means: The Sharks were in need of a replacement for Bob Boughner, who left Pete DeBoer's staff to join the Florida Panthers as their new head coach. Zettler, a former Sharks defenseman as well as an assistant coach under Ron Wilson, will oversee the defense and penalty kill, as Boughner did.

Zettler, of course, will work with Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns. Burns and Boughner had a special relationship, and Boughner told me at the NHL draft in Chicago how thrilled he was for Burns taking home the award as the league's top defenseman. Coaching Burns can be no easy task at times, so Zettler will likely have his hands full right away.

July 4: Sharks sign Brandon Bollig

What it means: From the NHL team's perspective, probably not much,[url=http://www.penguinsofficialhockey.com/adidas-evgeni-malkin-jersey]adidas Evgeni Malkin jersey[/url], as Bollig is not expected to make the Sharks roster. Instead, he'll bring some muscle to the AHL Barracuda. 

Still, don't be shocked if he makes a handful of appearances in the big club's lineup. Now that Michael Haley has moved on to Florida,[url=http://www.penguinsofficialhockey.com/adidas-matt-murray-jersey]adidas Sidney Crosby jersey[/url], Bollig could be an asset in a physical or nasty regular season matchup against a division rival like Los Angeles, Anaheim or Edmonton.

July 13: Sharks re-sign Chris Tierney to one-year deal

What it means: It was odd that the Sharks, according to a source, didn't want to negotiate with Tierney after qualifying him as a free agent. The former second round pick got just a modest raise,[url=http://www.penguinsofficialhockey.com/adidas-sidney-crosby-jersey]adidas Sidney Crosby jersey[/url], and will be a restricted free agent again next summer.

The message, therefore, is clear: Tierney had better come to camp in tip-top shape, and ready to prove that he is deserving of a bigger role and a multi-year contract. If he struggles from the outset,[url=http://www.penguinsofficialhockey.com/adidas-kris-letang-jersey]adidas Kris Letang jersey[/url], he could end up getting pushed out of the lineup by someone like Ryan Carpenter.

July 18: Sharks re-sign Marcus Sorensen to two-year deal

What it means: Sorensen is in a great position to make the opening night roster, and should have some confidence from the way he performed in the first round against Edmonton. Training camp will dictate whether that happens, but I would surmise at this point he's penciled into the opening night lineup. 

Is Sorensen ready to take the next step, or will be go backwards like Joonas Donskoi did last season?

July 19: Sharks to host prospect showcase

What it means: For the die-hards and us beat reporters, this sounds like a pretty cool event. The Sharks will host a three-team round robin tournament with prospects from the Avalanche, Coyotes and Ducks from Sept. 9-12, at Solar4America Ice at San Jose (a.k.a. Sharks Ice).

Yes, that means we're exactly one month away from hockey. Rosters and information on how to attend will be announced closer to the event.

July 26: Sharks name Dave Barr assistant coach

What it means:[url=http://www.penguinsofficialhockey.com/adidas-kris-letang-jersey]Authentic Kris Letang jersey[/url], This announcement was a bit of a surprise, as the Sharks brought in another body to serve on their coaching staff in the 56-year-old Barr. A former assistant with DeBoer in New Jersey, Barr will serve as the "eye-in-the-sky" for the club. Previously it was Johan Hedberg who did that, so I imagine Hedberg will now move behind the bench.

Barr, who has spent the last nine seasons coaching in the NHL with New Jersey, Buffalo, Colorado and most recently Florida, Minnesota, could also bring a different perspective to the power play. The Sharks finished 25th in the league on the power play last season, a number they will surely have to improve this season.

August 7 – Sharks re-sign Barclay Goodrow to two-year deal

What it means: Goodrow is a nice piece to keep in the system, as he's a big body that has some skill. [url=http://www.penguinsofficialhockey.com/adidas-phil-kessel-jersey]adidas Joe Pavelski jersey[/url],Whether his game can translate to the NHL full-time remains to be seen, but Goodrow nearly made the team out of camp last season before having a strong year with the Barracuda. 

Although he's probably behind guys like Sorensen, Carpenter and Timo Meier on the depth chart, Goodrow will be a player to watch in training camp. He could push for a spot on the fourth line.