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Photo Credit: © John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Pacific Preview: The Sharks keep chugging along

This is one part of a multi-part series profiling the teams of the Pacific Division from an Oilers perspective. 

It was really, really weird to watch a San Jose Sharks team without Patrick Marleau last season. Losing your franchise’s leader in virtually every major offensive category is certainly strange, but despite the change of the guard, the Sharks continued their two-decade-long trend of being a playoff team.

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What did they do last season?

  • 45-27-10 – (100 points)
  • 252 goals for (12th) 
  • 229 goals against (9th)

Last season was one of change for San Jose. For the first time since virtually anybody can remember, Patrick Marleau didn’t wear a Shark on his jersey. The franchise’s all-time leader in points inked a deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the off-season, ending a 1493-game tenure. Beyond that, when Joe Thornton missed half of the season with an injury, the Sharks were without their two best players in history, two staples of the past decade.

Still, the Sharks managed to push through with a different identity. Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture led the way as a one-two punch down the middle, each eclipsing the 60-point plateau. Reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns put up another ridiculously-good offensive campaign while Marc-Edouard Vlasic, the yin to his yang, was stable as usual defensively. Martin Jones posted a .915 save percentage and his backup, Aaron Dell, was just as good in relief.

But the story in San Jose was how a wealth of young players stepped up to push the team over the top. Chris Tierney and Kevin Labanc each reached the 40-point plateau for the first time in their young careers and Timo Meier scored 21 goals in his first full NHL season. Depth youngsters Marcus Sorensen, Dylan DeMelo, and Barclay Goodrow also all thrived in increased roles last year.

The Sharks never really had a prolonged cold streak last season. They were consistently solid all throughout the year, losing more than three games in a row just twice. One of those times came right around the New Year with Thornton on the Injured Reserve and the other came at the tail end of the season, but they still ended up sweeping the Anaheim Ducks in the first round.

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What did they do in the off-season?

  • Major Additions: None.
  • Major Subtractions: Mikkel Boedker, Paul Martin, Joel Ward, Eric Fehr, Jannik Hansen.
  • Other stuff: Signed

The Sharks made a major addition for about 10 minutes this summer. They grabbed Mike Hoffman from the absolute garbage fire known as the Ottawa Senators, but they quickly flipped him to Florida in a separate deal. This deal is particularly hilarious because Pierre Dorion said he didn’t want to trade Hoffman within the division and he ended up with the Panthers. Anyways, this deal was mainly about the Sharks opening up cap room by dumping Mikkel Boedker’s salary.

They opened up that cap room in order to make a free agent stab at John Tavares, but he ended up signing a long-term deal with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. When they missed out on the Tavares sweepstakes, the Sharks ended up standing pat, ultimately choosing not to make any major free agent investments.

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They re-signed Evander Kane, who they acquired at the trade deadline, to a seven-year deal, Logan Couture got a new eight-year deal, Joe Thornton got re-upped for another year, and Tomas Hertl got a four-year contract.

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So while the Sharks didn’t make any additions, they continued to get their core locked up for the foreseeable future. They now have Couture, Kane, Hertl, Jones, Burns, and Vlasic locked up for at least four more seasons.

Feb 27, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) shoots as San Jose Sharks center Melker Karlsson (68) defends in the first period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

What’s going to happen this season?

The Sharks have been one of the most consistently-good teams ever seen in NHL history. They’ve made the playoffs in 18 of their last 20 seasons and they spent much of that time as a legit Stanley Cup contender. They obviously aren’t the contender they were back in Thornton and Marleau’s hay day, but the Sharks are still a playoff calibre team.

As Thornton and Marleau aged, the Sharks ultimately opted to retool rather than rebuild. They allowed a new core of Burns, Vlasic, Pavelski, and Couture to carry the torch and it worked out for them last season. This isn’t a new, young core by any stretch, though. Joe Pavelski just turned 34 years old, Burns is 33, and Vlasic is 31.

The Sharks are much like their division rivals from Anaheim. They’re a largely old team with an interesting blend of young talent, but you can’t help but look at their roster and think that they’re a few things going wrong away from falling off a cliff.

Still, like with Anaheim, this veteran team continues to get the job done, so I wouldn’t bet on the decline happening yet. Burns and Vlasic form the core of a very good blueline, Jones has been rock solid in net since arriving in San Jose three years ago, and the team boasts a lot of scoring options up front. Adding a full season of Evander Kane to the mix doesn’t hurt either.

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San Jose’s salary cap situation

San Jose’s projected lineup 


  • HockeyYoda

    Besides McDavid of course. IMO the best chance the Oilers have of making the playoffs is that the Pacific Division will be the weakest in the league. Every other Div has two or three stud teams you can pencil in right now. But I don’t see any real cup contenders here. On paper the Sharks probably have the best chance with a fair amount of good but not great young players to support an aging all star cast.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    I agree. The Sharks are a good team and they’ve always been good, even when Todd was their head coach. Really my only question mark for them is Evander Kane. That contract though…ew.

    Still, here’s my top 3.

    San Jose
    Edmonton
    LA

    • That's My Point

      So the Oilers are going to make up 31 points on Vegas and more than 20 on LA and 23 on Ducks?
      There were 2 teams with 44 wins last year that MISSED the playoffs.
      Oilers need at least 100 POINTS to make the playoffs this year.
      Last season 78 points on ONLY 36 wins.
      Oilers are NO WHERE NEAR MAKING the playoffs this season.
      Did they replace Sekera yet?
      Did they sign Nurse yet?
      BOUCHARD to the rescue!!!

      • Kneedroptalbot

        1. San Jose
        2.Vegas
        3. Battle between (Calg/Ana)
        If everything falls into place for Edmonton (consistent goaltending, secondary scoring) they might be in a Wildcard race?

  • lee

    One thing that the Sharks have got going for them is that they are a preferred destination for many players because of life style. The sun shine states have a real advantage when it comes to signing players.
    Today top players are financially set by the time they are in their mid 20’s, so getting a million more to play for another team is not as big as it once was.
    Their wealth allows them to chose life style as much as team, when Vegas becomes a power house and they are on their way to this, it wont be hard for the player convincing his wife to go to Vegas for 3 or 4 years.
    Teams like Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Carolina and Buffalo are not destination cities, these teams have to be really good teams to get players to want to play for them.
    It’s not fair but that’s the way it is.

    • Derian Hatcher

      Agree with your points…but if the Oilers ever become a consistent threat to win the cup (I do realize that’s a big IF at this point), perhaps the opportunity to play with Connor and get name on the cup.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Tell that to Blake Wheeler… He wouldn’t want to be anywhere else when it comes to lifestyle for him and his family.
      I just read a small article when he just extended his contract, that when he first went to the Peg that his wife wasn’t too happy.
      Now, she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. She suggested it’s the perfect place to raise a family.
      Blake said that the team & more importantly his wife were the main reasons why he extended early.

  • Rusty

    The Sharks will be pushing the top of the division this year. I dont see any reason why they wouldn’t. Next offseason is the one im interested in for the sharks. 11 contracts to negotiate. 6 of them RFA’s. 2 of them needing a substantial raise, and as if this morning only 4.3 in capspace…also not factoring in Couture extra 2 million a year he starts getting paid next year. Very curious. Kane better show more than he EVER has before or that contract will be one the bigger albatrosses in the league.

    But even with that, Doug Wilson is a trade master. Always seems to be able to move a bad contract for nothing, always able to acquire the guy he needs. I think they are entering cap hell next year and their window to win is closing fast, but i wont bet against the sharks to address their needs and fix their problems as they arise. their ace in the hole will be Joe Thornton. If they need the cap space they wont offer him his customary 5 mill a year contract next year.

  • ROILYDoGG$

    People forget , we beat the sharks in the playoffs, should have beat the ducks also .. barf. Our core has only improved and got a year older. We added new pieces such as Rieder, Aberg, Rattie.
    Plus the bottom players for the 4th line which is an upgrade. Jjk is trending up also.
    We beat Vegas bad most of the year so why can’t we this year ? Our team should improve a lot. I wouldn’t count them out … oh and we have some guy named McDavid who should do pretty well this year too.
    1-Vegas
    2-Sharks
    3-Oilers
    4-flames
    5-LA
    6-Ducks