The San Jose Sharks of recent seasons were a team that looked like cup contenders, but that image has started to slide. This off season has brought in a lot of personnel changes, with that, let’s preview what this season could look like:
First Key Game: Vegas Golden Knights – October 2nd
Odds to win the division
17:4 (t-2nd overall) (via Betway)
Is this a bet worth taking?
The Sharks are among the favourites in the Pacific but are swimming in treacherous waters. The Flames won’t easily surrender their division crown and the rival Golden Knights will have their shot at revenge right from the get go (back-to-back to start the season – Thank you NHL!). If San Jose can stay consistent, and healthy, it could prove to be more just than a fishing expedition.
Keys To The Season
Story to watch
Are the ‘Kids’ all right? Joe Thornton has seen the rest come and go, as now both Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski have moved on, joining the like of Evgeni Nabokov and Sharks legend Brian Campbell… the last of his era, he’ll see the reigns passed from ‘Little Joe’ to the likes of new captain Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Evander Kane, Timo Meier, and their veteran blue line of Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and the newly resigned Erik Karlsson. ‘Kids’ being a relative term here, as many of their key pieces are in their prime.
The Sharks have long been a contender who just couldn’t get over the top, including a finals appearance in 2016. Their window is still open, although their depth may not be what it once was, losing the likes of Donskoi and Nyquist. If they finally get to sip from Lord Stanley’s Mug it’ll be their younger group of players who get them there.
Player to watch
Erik Karlsson: After coming over in a deal from the Sens, Erik Karlsson was expected to be the big free agent fish on the market this summer. Then, much like a Jaws sequel, there was little excitement. He promptly signed an eight year extension to stay in the Golden State, and much of the Sharks success will depend on him remaining healthy and retaining his Norris Trophy form.
The Sharks Blue line is among the best in the league but as we saw in the playoffs against St Louis, that means very little if they’re banged up. Karlsson spent the offseason recovering from another injury, but the fact that the Sharks were willing to make such a commitment should quell some concerns over his health. He’s still a game breaker and with the talent they possess up front, should put up big numbers again. However, both he and the Sharks ultimately believe they have bigger fish to fry.
Consistent Goaltending: Martin Jones and Aaron Dell were, we’ll say average at best for much of last season (with Jones posting an ugly .896 save %) yet San Jose managed to finish second in the Pacific Division. If they can get a better performance this season they should yet again compete for a top spot in the conference. To his credit Jones was better in the post season as the Sharks bowed out in a 6 game Western Conference Final to the Stanley Cup Champion Blues. Much of that loss can be attributed to a rash of injuries, so if Jones can regain that form, the Sharks could be swimming into uncharted territory.
If the San Jose Sharks were an animal, what would they be?
First person to sing Baby Shark has to bag skate… King Cobra: The Sharks boast a lethal attack capable of striking quickly (Just ask Vegas), an impressive defensive posture and have currently shed much of their old skin.