For the 10th straight season, the San Jose Sharks finished
in the top-3 in the Pacific Division and qualified for the playoffs. But, for
the 10th consecutive season, the Sharks fell short in the postseason. A decade
of making the playoffs and the Sharks have never been to the Stanley Cup Final.
The fashion in which they lost this past season, was the most disappointing for
Sharks fans. After bursting out to a 3-0 series lead, San Jose lost the next
four games, losing in seven to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.
Taylor Fedun – D Martin
Havlat – RW
John Scott – LW/D Brad
Stuart – D
McCarthy – LW
Boyle – D
Despite another disappointing end to the year, the Sharks
look a lot like they did last season. On the blueline they parted ways with Dan
Boyle (free agency) and Brad Stuart (traded to COL) which opens the door for Brent Burns to move back to defence and young D-men Matt Tennyson, Taylor
Doherty, Mirco Mueller and Taylor Fedun to battle it out for the sixth D spot.
After a full season at forward that produced 22 goals and 26
assists (48 points) in 69 games, Burns will shift back to defence in 2014-15.
The 29-year-old was a beast in from of the net, but the move back to the
blueline should not hurt his point totals all that much. His goals should be
down a bit, but he is still capable of 40 points from the back-end.
The other contributors on the Sharks’ blue line are Jason Demers and Marc-Eduard Vlasic. Demers, 26, had the best season of his career in
2013-14. He set a new season-high in assists (29) and points (34) while posting
a plus-14 rating. The departure of Dan Boyle should allow Demers to see more
power-play time, so his numbers shouldn’t change much from his career-year.
Vlasic, 27, turned in one of the best seasons he has ever had. He posted a
solid 24 points (5G / 19A) while registering the NHL’s ninth best plus/minus
(+31) in 81 games. He is a great two-way defenseman and that is why Canada
selected him to their Olympic roster last Winter. He rarely misses games and
his point totals are consistently in the mid-20’s with a good plus/minus.
Up front, the Sharks still have a ton of talent. After last
year’s collapse, they stripped Joe Thornton of the captaincy and Patrick Marleau of his ‘A’. “Jumbo Joe” had 11 goals and was second in the NHL with 65
assists (76 points) in 82 games. In 2014-15, expect much of the same. Low goal
totals, (hasn’t scored 20 since 2010-11) and top-5 in the NHL in assists. He
should finish between 70-80 points. In 2013-14, Marleau played every regular
season game for the fifth straight season and scored 30-plus goals for the
fifth consecutive full season.
They are joined by Joe Pavelski, who exploded for 41 goals
last season. He has always been a consistent goal scorer, but another 40 goal
season is very unlikely. That said, who is complaining about a 30-30 season?
Logan Couture had a bit of a down year, tallying just 23 goals in 65 games.
Prior to last year he had 30-plus goals in each of the previous two 82-game
seasons, so expect him to get back on that pace this season.
Tomas Hertl had a great rookie season going until he had to
undergo surgery to repair a damaged MCL and PCL in early January. He had 15
goals and 10 assists (25 points) in 35 games. However, six of the 15 goals came
in his first three games, so don’t get crazy and expect a 40 goal season from
the 20-year-old rising star. Tommy Wingels rounds out a nice group of
forwards. Wingels enjoyed a quality
season in 2013-14. He had 38 points (16G / 22A) in 77 games, which is
impressive from a player who had an AHL career-high of 17 goals.
In net the Sharks are also extremely steady. Antti Niemi was
39-17-7 with a 2.39 GAA and .913 SV% last season. He faltered down the stretch
and in the playoffs, but he has always been a great regular season performer.
In 2014-15 he will be pushed by Alex Stalock for starts, but Niemi should have
a firm grasp on the starting job, especially if he maintains his regular season
career 2.35 GAA and .916 SV%. Stalock was 12-5-2 with a 1.87 GAA and .932 SV%
in his first full NHL season.
Season prediction: San Jose will finish third in the Pacific
Division, extending their playoff streak to 11 years.
View the Sharks’ entire roster and cap space heading into the 2014 – 2015 season.