The second in my series looking at the Pacific Division and projecting where the teams will likely fall in the standings.
Previously I looked at the Los Angeles Kings. Today, the Sharks.
San Jose Sharks – 224 goals for, 181 goals against (7th in the Western Conference, 4th in the Pacific)
Pavelski – Long believed to be Thornton’s eventual successor, but beginning to wonder if he will struggle as the question shifts to become whether he can maintain or manage greater duties as Thornton declines with age.
Thornton – Still a dominant playmaker.
Couture – Effective winger against all levels of competition. Curious to see if/how he’s affected by departure of Marleau.
Ward – Strong bottom-six winger.
Boedker – Mid-range forward who can move up the lineup as needed.
Tierney – Ideally suited in a depth role, but capable of managing mid-range competition effectively.
Karlsson – Utility player who adds depth to a gradually thinning forward corps.
Hertl – Skilled player who, despite conservative projections here, is probably due for a breakout season.
Meier – Sample size is a problem with this projection, but Meier is another skilled player for the Sharks who appears to do well against various levels of opposition.
Donskoi – A good depth and PK player for the Sharks, the sort most GMs and coaches love to have on the roster and that analytics bloggers often praise.
Hansen – More well-known than Donskoi, and an astute pick-up by the Sharks, best deployed in a depth role.
Tierney – Depth forward making a run at sticking with the big club this season.
Sorensen – Insufficient data.
Labanc – Insufficient data.
Haley – Organizational fighter, notably called up to fight Darnell Nurse for his run at Roman Polak. Not necessarily a regular contributor at the NHL level.
Bollig – He was a marginal NHLer on the Flames. I see no reason to expect more of him in San Jose.
Burns – Typically deployed against mid and lower tier competition, significant part of the Sharks’ modest offense.
Vlasic – He takes the heat so that Burns can shine. Phenomenal defender unlikely to get his full due while he’s at his peak.
Martin – Depth defender who has managed well.
Braun – Shutdown defender typically deployed against the best.
Dillon – Justin Braun’s backup, but with less offense.
DeMelo – Insufficient data.
Jones – He and Talbot lead the division in their position, arguably both deserve wider recognition in the league.
Dell – Numbers provide a small sample size, but he appears to be a phenomenal backup. UFA at the end of the season, and a name I expect to get some attention as the season wears on.
The Sharks are going to continue to drift along in the Pacific division, likely not embracing a significant change until they are kicked into it by either a resurgent Kings team (don’t hold your breath) or the arrival on the scene of either the Canucks or Coyotes (on second thought, bet on the Kings over either of those two). Thornton is in the twilight of his career, Pavelski is a very skilled player but there are hints he struggles away from Thornton. Burns is a 2nd pairing monster but at that cap hit you need someone who can go toe-to-toe with the best. Vlasic and Jones are what keep the monsters at bay, for now.