With a new coach, comes change. Changes in philosophy, style, and even coaching clichés:
We want to be a structured team that plays with freedom.
— JD Young (Content Boi) (@MyFryHole) 26 July 2022
San Jose Sharks General Manager Mike Grier has been busy grocery shopping this off-season, trying to make casseroles from leftovers from the previous regime wherever he can, using coupons and savings. With the exception of new contracts for Mario Ferraro, Noah Gregor and Jonah Gadjovic, the buyout is almost complete, and it’s time for newly named head coach David Quinn to work in the kitchen.
With a new chef, some recipes or ingredients may not be used. We’ve already seen Grier make changes by shipping Brent Burns, buying Rudulf’s balers, and never signing Jonathan Dahlen again. Which players can David Quinn look to slow cooking or put on the back burner?
What seemed like a near lock for an opening night roster spot in April now seems very much in flux. It may have less to do with Quine and more to do with the numbers game. The Sharks currently have Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Logan Couture, Nick Bonino, Alexander Barbanov, Matt Nieto and Kevin LaBlanc all returning to the forward group, with the addition of Nico Sturm, Steven Lorentz and Oscar Lindblom. Next are Scott Ready, Jasper Weatherby and Jeffrey Weil, who played at least 30 games last season but are still eligible for exemptions.
And that doesn’t even include Noah Gregor and Jonah Gadjovich, who are both waiting to sign new deals. AndOf course, William Eklund who will also be fighting for the job after kicking the Sharks out of camp last season, before being sent back to Sweden after trying nine games. Grier and Quinn want a competitive team and while Bourdelle will eventually win the job over the Sharks, Quinn will lean toward the Giants to start things off.
Going to start by saying that it is unlikely that Quinn will sell Carlsen or drop him from the team until the end of the season. But I’m curious what the relationship will be like between Quinn and Carlson. After the press conference to announce Quinn’s hiring, Grier noted that some of the New York Rangers Players have big personalities and it can be difficult for coaches. Eric Carlson isn’t shy about things and is known for being one of the big figures in the dressing room – even more so with Burns in Carolina.
How will David Quinn manage some of Carlson’s quirks and his tendency to go for home run play? There are nights where Erik Carlsson is easily the best player on the ice, but mounting injuries and uncertainty have begun to rob the Swede of his days. If Quinn and Carlson don’t click, could this be the beginning of the end for the Shark/Carlson marriage?
Nieto has become a staple in the Sharks’ penalty kills since returning to San Jose. Last season, he was fourth in penalty kill time on the ice, but with Luke Kunin (fifth shorthanded TOI on the Nashville Predators), Oscar Lindblom (sixth shorthanded TOI) Philadelphia Flyers) and Steven Lorentz (ninth shorthand TOI on Storm’s top-rated PK unit), Matt Nieto’s expertise could be changed. All of these players add more offensive abilities (Lindblom) or versatility in play in either center or wing (Kunin and Lorentz) and more money is invested in their contracts.
Neato is entering the final year of its two-year contract worth $850K. They may try to forgive him for AHL reassignment or possibly trade him to a team looking for more help on penalty kills.
Merkle has shown glimpses of pure genius in his time in San Jose, but has also shown him moments of silliness at Bob Boffner’s dog house on several occasions. Merkle has a huge opportunity – now that Brent Burns and his 2100 minutes of ice time is up – to actually claim the second pairing. Most likely Marcus Nutivara is his main competition for ice time, as the right side should look like this:
Marcus Nutiwara / Ryan Merkle
Nutivaara is left-handed but is comfortable playing on either side of the ice as a very handsome media member asked her during her recent availability:
Marcus says he is comfortable playing both sides of the defense and is coming to San Jose.
— JD Young (Content Boi) (@MyFryHole) 19 July 2022
Nutiwara is recovering from an injury that cost him in the 2021-22 season, with one game left but he is expected to be ready for training camp. Ryan Merkle has a chance with a new coaching staff and a fresh start to try to realize his full potential with a coach who helped Adam Fox win Norris.
It may also come as a surprise. Timo Meier is entering the final year of his four-year, $6 million annual contract. He has a $10 million qualifying offer in the 2023-24 season. Not including Mario Ferraro’s upcoming deal, the Sharks already have 13 players on the roster worth $63 million for next year. Shark fans went on to sing and dance the same song and dance with Tomas Hertl last season that’s about to happen again.
The soon-to-be 26-year-old is looking at Johnny Goudreau ($9.75 million over seven years) and Matthew Tkachuk ($9.5 million over eight years) and hoping to get something in the same ballpark. The assumption is that Timo Meier is going to fit into a Chris Kreider-type role in crime, but if Meier comes out of the gate poorly or doesn’t like his role on the team, will he and the Sharks first part ways? To see him pay off a long term deal?
Mike Grier has provided David Quinn with plenty of groceries to choose from, it will be interesting to see how the players are used up, which players don’t fit the recipe book and which ones will keep him from making his Quinn debut. May need to be boiled in AHL first.