SAN JOSE -- When it comes to the Sharks' offensive arsenal, their wingers are some of their best assets. Even when the offense had trouble waking up, bench boss Peter DeBoer didn't hesitate to throw his lines into the blender and come up with a combo or two that could get the team going.
Moving forward, the wings should remain one of San Jose's best-stocked positions -- even if there are some changes in personnel during the offseason.
Staple wingers like Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane set the tone for the Sharks when it came to scoring this past season. Kane was particularly impressive in his first full season as a Shark, adding a dash of grit to San Jose's attack all while registering the first 30-goal season of his professional career.
But the 2018-19 season also saw a few young wingers develop into key players. Timo Meier emerged as one of San Jose's key offensive weapons this past season, securing his power forward status with a spot on Logan Couture's wing right at the start of the 2018-19 campaign. Kevin Labanc also deserves some credit for the work he did after a rough stretch in the middle of the season, rallying to become a reliable depth player opposite Marcus Sorensen on Joe Thornton's line. Sorensen deserves props too, creating solid chemistry with Thornton and setting up some of No. 19's biggest goals of the season.
Of course, there's due to be some juggling on the wings in the offseason with different players' contracts ending. Meier, who can become a restricted free agent on July 1, is likely staying in San Jose. When asked about Meier's future with the team during exit interviews, Sharks GM Doug Wilson briefly mentioned he'd had discussions with Meier's agent, giving the impression the team sees him as a key piece of their future.
But two UFA wingers in Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist make things a bit interesting.
Donskoi, who was part of the Sharks 2016 Western Conference-winning team, struggled in the latter part of this last regular season before rebounding for Team Teal in the playoffs. Nyquist was San Jose's big acquisition at the trade deadline, who didn't quite find his spot in the lineup until the playoffs and became a good fit on Couture's wing opposite Meier. As of the team's last media availability session of the season, neither player was privy to any contract talks taking place -- although both expressed a desire to stay in the South Bay.
The biggest question San Jose has at the wing position revolves around Pavelski, who is set to be a UFA as well. No. 8's skill and leadership have become key cogs in the Sharks' successes, and this past season showed how much the Sharks miss him if he's injured and can't play. The captain expressed to the press he and his family want to stay in San Jose, although at there still don't seem to be any contract talks taking place. If the Sharks don't have a deal done with him before the market opens, it could make the start of free agency very interesting.
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Regardless of what happens with the team's big free agents, the Sharks also have wingers coming up the pipeline via the Barracuda. Jeffrey Truchon-Viel didn't see any NHL time last season, but after being signed to the team this spring could get a look once camp opens up. Soon-to-be RFA Francis Perron, who San Jose acquired as part of the Erik Karlsson trade, is also a winger who could get a look with the big club after being on the Barracuda's best players last season, provided he stays with San Jose.