San Jose (29-33-11) was eliminated from contention with a 5-4 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday. Since March 1, the Sharks are 5-10-5 and have been outscored 68-48.
Here is a look at what happened in the 2021-22 season for the Sharks and why things could be better next season:
Potential unrestricted free agents: Alexander Barabanov, F; Jaycob Megna, D
Potential restricted free agents: John Leonard, F; Jonah Gadjovich, F; Sasha Chmelevski, F; Noah Gregor, F; Jonathan Dahlen, F; Mario Ferraro, D; Nicolas Meloche, D; Kaapo Kahkonen, G
Potential 2022 Draft picks: Nine
What went wrong
Scoring woes: The Sharks are averaging of 2.58 goals per game, 28th in the NHL. Three players, Timo Meier (72 points), Tomas Hertl (61) and Logan Couture (50), have scored at least 50 points. San Jose was 25th at 2.61 goals per game last season.
Power play outage: The Sharks are 23rd on the power play, scoring 37 goals on 198 chances (18.7 percent). They have allowed 10 shorthanded goals, tied with the Canadiens for third-most in the NHL. Meier (12), Hertl (six) and Couture (five) are the only players with at least five power-play goals. San Jose was 29th on the power play (14.1 percent) last season.
Evander Kane situation: The forward was in the fourth season of a seven-year contract he signed with San Jose on May 24, 2018. He was suspended 21 games by the NHL on Oct. 18 for violating NHL COVID-19 protocol, cleared waivers and was assigned to San Jose of the American Hockey League on Nov. 29. He scored eight points (two goals, six assists) in five games but never played for the Sharks after entering AHL COVID-19 protocol Dec. 22. The Sharks terminated Kane’s contract in early January and he agreed to a one-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 28. He has scored 30 points (16 goals, 14 assists) in 36 games with the Oilers.
Reasons for optimism
Meier’s consistency: The 25-year-old right wing set NHL career highs in goals (32), assists (40), points (72), power-play goals (12) and game-winning goals (eight) in 68 games. He exceeded 45 points for the third time in the past four seasons.
Video: SJS@CHI: Meier cleans up rebound from Burns’ shot
Promising pipeline: Forward prospects William Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau and Ozzy Wiesblatt each is on the cusp of making significant contributions as early as next season. Eklund, 19, had four assists in nine games for the Sharks before scoring 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 29 games for Djurgardens of the Swedish Hockey League, the top professional men’s league in Sweden. Bordeleau, 20, was named Sharks Prospect of the Year in 2020-21 and scored 37 points (12 goals, 25 assists) in 37 games this season as a sophomore for the University of Michigan. Wiesblatt, 20, has scored 41 points (10 goals, 31 assists) in 43 games for Prince Albert of the Western Hockey League.
Hope with Hertl: The 28-year-old center, who could have become an unrestricted free agent after the season, agreed to an eight-year contract March 16, five days before the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. Hertl has scored at least 40 points in four of his past five seasons. He’s second on the Sharks this season with 28 goals and 61 points, first with a 14.9 percent shooting percentage and has scored an NHL career-high three overtime goals. He leads Sharks forwards in average ice time per game at 19:59.