Sharks update: A check on leadership; NHL history will be made vs. Flames

The San Jose Sharks feel they’re in a good position from a leadership perspective as they begin preparations for what will likely be another tumultuous offseason.

Before they traded him to the Vegas Golden Knights, the Sharks credited Tomas Hertl for the leadership he displayed thoughout the first half of what’s been a difficult season when the team was without injured captain Logan Couture.

Now without Hertl, and Couture still on the mend with a groin injury, the Sharks are pleased with how forwards Mikael Granlund and Luke Kunin have joined Mario Ferraro, in filling the void left by Hertl’s absence. Kunin and Granlund became alternate captains, alongside Ferraro, earlier this year.

Defenseman Kyle Burroughs is also in that mix, Sharks coach David Quinn said.

“I think they have,” stepped up, Quinn said of his leadership group, on Thursday morning before the Sharks played the Calgary Flames in their regular season finale. “A, they saw that we needed it and B, I think they embraced the opportunity to be more involved in the leadership.”

The Sharks are hoping Couture can return to the team on a full-time basis after a condition called osteitis pubis prevented him from playing in all but six games this season.

But while Couture is signed for three more years through the 2026-2027 season, and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic is signed for two more seasons, it’s unclear how much longer Granlund, Kunin and Nico Sturm, will be with the team.

Granlund, 32, and Sturm, 28, are set to become unrestricted free agents in 2025 and Kunin, 26, is a pending restricted free agent, who could become a UFA next year as well.

For now, Quinn is happy to have those players here as some younger prospects start to come into the organization or continue their pro careers.

“You’re talking about really good people, guys that you can build around and win with that are vital in every locker room,” Quinn said, “no matter where you are as a franchise.”

Burroughs and Ferraro are signed for two more seasons. On Burroughs, 28, Quinn said, “He’s a guy that works hard and the guys have respect for, for sure. Everybody sees it, and that’s infectious.”

The Sharks will likely be bringing in some new faces this offseason as some pending UFAs such as Kevin Labanc, Mike Hoffman, and Alexander Barabanov might not be retained.

COOLEY BACK IN: The Sharks will start Devin Cooley in net for the second straight game, giving him the chance to end the season on a positive note after he was shelled for eight goals on 22 shots in Monday’s 9-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

The Sharks did not offer Cooley much help in the first period Monday as they Oilers scored four times on 10 shots.

The onslaught continued in the second period with Cooley and the Sharks giving up four more goals on 12 shots, before Quinn decided to switch goalies, inserting Georgi Romanov with 6:11 left in the second period. Romanov made 15 saves on 16 shots to finish the game as the Oilers let up to some degree.

The Flames are starting Dustin Wolf in net, as Thursday’s game marks the first time in NHL history that two goalies from Santa Clara County will start the same game. Cooley, 26, is from Los Gatos, and Wolf, 23, is from Gilroy.

Both spent countless hours at Sharks Ice in San Jose while in youth hockey.

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