NHL Projections: San Jose Sharks Lineup
The San Jose Sharks were a playoff surprise last year. After finishing 3rd in the Pacific Division, the Sharks went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Last year's cup run has greatly increased the expectations in San Jose, and they will look to get back to the finals again this year. They are bringing back largely the same team, with the addition of left wing Mikkel Boedker. I like the Sharks this year, but I'm not sure they can make another cup run. I think a lot of last year's success was just running with a hot streak. San Jose will definitely make the playoffs this year, but I see them losing in the first or second round. They have a good team, a very good team, but I don't think they're Stanley Cup level unless they get really hot again. Here is what I expect the Shark's lines to look like at the start of the season. I had a lot of trouble putting these together. They have a lot of pieces that can be moved around. This is my best guess.
The Sharks have some big time forwards in their top six, but their bottom six is a bit of a question mark. The top two lines are going to be good, there is no question about that. Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Mikkel Boedker, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, and Joonas Donskoi are all great players. The bottom six, however, could be really good, or may not be. There's a lot of guys that could either put up 40 points or put up 20 points. We just don't know what we're going to get. I think they will be good, and the Sharks will have a good season. Overall, the Shark's forwards are pretty good and certainly a playoff group.
The Shark's defense is also very good. Brent Burns is one of the best in the league, and he has a very solid Paul Martin beside him. The second pair of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun would be a top pair on many other teams. Brendan Dillon has been a staple in the bottom pair for years now, and David Schlemko is a solid guy to round out the defense core. Overall, the Sharks have a very solid defense that is better than most teams around the league.
Finally, the goaltending, Martin Jones established himself as a true number one last year. He was superb all season long and especially in the playoffs. He is the clear number one and will play a ton of games this year. Aaron Dell will be the backup. Dell has never played in the NHL before, but had a .922 save percentage in the AHL last season. It will be interesting to see how he fares this year, although I doubt he will play much. Overall, the Sharks are in good shape as long as Martin Jones stays healthy.