Not surprisingly, the future Sharks starting goalie and the vacancy at their head coaching position were on the minds of some Sharks fans this week. Here are some answers to a few mailbag questions that were received via Twitter...
Who do you think the Sharks will target to be their starting goalie?
(Arin Adolph @ArinAdolph)
I would guess that the Sharks are looking for a guy in his mid-to-late 20’s that can be a part of the team for several years, just like Antti Niemi was when he signed here as a free agent in 2010. There should be plenty of options – after all, some, like Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville, have referred to this season as “the year of the backup goalie.”
A few names to consider: Scott Darling or Antti Raanta (Chicago); Jonathan Bernier (Toronto); Dustin Tokarski (Montreal); Cam Talbot (New York Rangers); Robin Lehner (Ottawa); Nicklas Svedberg (Boston) and Michal Neuvirth (New York Islanders, and a pending unrestricted free agent).
Or, maybe the Sharks will seek a younger, less experienced prospect, like Philipp Grubauer in Washington, Malcolm Subban in Boston, or Andrey Vasilevskiy or Kristers Gudlevskis from Tampa Bay. That young pair could be intriguing, considering Ben Bishop looks like the Lightning’s starter for the foreseeable future, and Wilson and Lightning GM Steve Yzerman are tight. Vasilevskiy, 20, is a former first round pick in 2012, while Gudlevskis, 22, is a name you may remember from the Olympics after his standout performance for Latvia.
There has been some speculation that the Blackhawks and Red Wings could try to move Corey Crawford and Jimmy Howard, respectively, but both of those goalies carry long contracts at inflated salaries, and both are over 30. I don’t see the Sharks going that direction. They need someone younger that could grow with a rebuilding team, and preferably blossom into a solid starter.
The Sharks still have Troy Grosenick in the mix, but he had an injury plagued year and wasn’t even Worcester’s playoff starter after getting outplayed by Aaron Dell. They’ll need other options.
Any chance we talk to Mike Babcock? #SharksTalk
BLOCKING CHAMP 2015 @Much_Better_53
I don’t see Mike Babcock – if he parts with Detroit, which now seems likely – coming to San Jose, for a couple reasons.
For one, Babcock is still tight with Todd McLellan, his former assistant. If McLellan didn’t like some of the answers he was getting from Wilson after the season regarding the future of the team, chances are that Babcock wouldn’t want to be a part of the Sharks, either. McLellan believes the Sharks are “clearly in a rebuild,” while Wilson said two weeks ago that he expects the team to make the playoffs next year. There was a major difference of opinion on the team’s outlook, which is a big reason they’ve parted ways.
Secondly, there’s possibly going to be a bidding war for Babcock’s services by some big money teams like Toronto, Buffalo and Philadelphia, who could all afford to pay him a hefty sum. Sharks owner Hasso Plattner and C.O.O. John Tortora have mentioned the Sharks’ finances on more than one occasion, so paying a coach upwards of $5 million per season probably isn’t something they’re interested in doing.
Will the Sharks reach out to Babcock if he leaves Detroit? They’d be foolish not to, but the most sought after NHL coach in years won’t be behind San Jose’s bench in October.
Can we expect GM Doug Wilson to offer another candid public assessment like he did last summer? #SharksTalk
(Ryan T. Darby @ryantdarby)
I doubt it. In fact, Wilson expressed a dash of regret as how forthcoming he was last summer in the press conference held to announce McLellan’s departure, when I asked the general manager if he thought he was a bit too transparent this time a year ago.
“Yeah, and you try to speak the truth,” Wilson said on April 20. “The comments that I made, was there a tinge of emotion? Yeah, I’ll be honest with you. It was a very emotional time the way we lost. I think the things I tried to say were general statements, not about individual players.
“There’s times that you probably don’t think before speaking, but it’s coming from the heart and it’s trying to find solutions. We always hold ourselves accountable. You’ve got to look in the mirror first before you start evaluating other people. Again, that’s what we’re doing right now.”