Last season the San Jose Sharks missed the playoff for the first time since 2003. In the aftermath we seen the mutual parting of ways between the team and long-time head coach Todd McLellan. Was last season an anomaly or is the long playoff run over for the one mighty Sharks? The core group of players is aging but there should still be a little left in the tank of Jumbo Joe Thornton and Patty Marleau. Enough to get them back to the playoffs? We will see I guess.
Key Additions: RW Joel Ward, D Paul Martin, D Mark Cundari, G Martin Jones
Key Departures: G Antti Niemi, D Matt Irwin, D Taylor Fedun
Roster Hopefuls: RW Timo Meier, RW Nikolay Goldobin, D Jeremy Roy
Last season was a bit of free fall for the once powerful Sharks. They went from 111 points and a second place finish in the Pacific division to 89 points and a fifth place end. The unfortunate part for Sharks fans is that while they did bring in a few nice players this summer they also lost a couple good ones too. Joel Ward is a great addition to the team as is defenseman Paul Martin but I can’t seem to figure out why they walked away from goaltender Antti Niemi. In my opinion opting for a very much unproven Martin Jones as the new starter when you had a more than capable starter already in the fold is beyond me but that is something you would have to ask GM Doug Wilson.
Timo Meier should bring the team some hope. He has a big frame and has excellent instincts in the offensive zone. He is a very capable player when he has the puck on his stick. He is going to head back to the QMJHL this season but should be in the NHL full-time by next season. If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching this kid play I urge you to do so! You won’t be disappointed. Another player on this team that I absolutely love is big defender/ winger Brent Burns. The guy is a stud defenseman and can really supply the offense from the backend. Last season he finished fourth on the team in scoring with 17 goals and 43 assists. That’s pretty damn special for a defenseman!
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Melker Karlsson – Logan Couture – Tomas Hertl
Matt Neito – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Raffi Torres – Ben Smith – Tommy Wingels
Brent Burns – Paul Martin
M.E. Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brendon Dillon – Mirco Mueller
The Sharks finished an astounding 11 points out of the playoffs, I know that isn’t “Oilers” astounding but that is pretty huge a change for a perennial playoff team like San Jose. I don’t think last season was an anomaly by any stretch. I think it was a bigger than expected regression but not an unexpected regression. With little in the way of changes from last season I expect the team will regress even further this season and will be in the fifth slot come the end of the season.
Martin Jones is the guy to keep an eye on for this team. He is largely unproven and will be needed to play a hell of a lot more than the fifteen games he played last season. It will be interesting to see if the Sharks guessed right and Jones is in fact ready. Situation sounds very similar to that of the Oilers.