Sunday, September 15, 2019

San Jose Sharks 2019-20 season preview

From NHL.com


         In a season in which they were expected to win, the San Jose Sharks once again failed to win the Stanley Cup. After just beating the Golden Knights and Avalanche in the first and second rounds, a deflated and injured Sharks team fell to the eventual champions, the St. Louis Blues, in the Conference Finals. The Sharks survived a cap crunch, and head into 2019-20 with high expectations, even without their former captain.

          Additions: Jonny Brodzinski, Dalton Prout, Trevor Carrick

          Subtractions: Joe Pavelski, Justin Braun, Gustav Nyqvist, Joonas Donskoi, Joakim Ryan, Michael Haley, Rourke Chartier, Kyle Wood

          Forwards
With Joe Pavelski leaving for Dallas, Logan Couture was named the new captain of the Sharks. A Shark since 2009-10, Couture had a career high 70 points in 2018-19, with 27 goals. Tomas Hertl finally broke out. He scored a career high 35 goals and 74 points, becoming a top line player, though the Sharks could put him on the second line. Another player to break out was 2015 9th overall pick Timo Meier. Meier scored 30 goals with 66 points, both career highs. He earned himself a four year, $24 million extension. Evander Kane became the first player since Tiger Williams in 1980-81 to lead the league in penalty minutes and score 30 goals. Kane had exactly 30, and had 153 penalty minutes. Kevin Labanc had a surprise 17 goal, 56 point season, and was lined up to get a big payday as an RFA. Instead, he signed a very odd one year deal worth $1 million. Joe Thornton returns for his age 40 season, and his 22nd year. He scored 16 goals, with 51 points last season. While he hasn't scored 20 goals since 2010-11, Thornton has always been a big assist player, with 1,065 apples in his career. In his first full season, Marcus Sorensen scored 17 goals with 30 points, becoming a good depth player for San Jose. Melker Karlsson's four assists were a career low, but his 12 goals were his most since his rookie season (2014-15). Barclay Goodrow finally got a starting opportunity, and had a career high 17 points. But his seven goals in 82 games matched his goal total in 47 games in 2017-18. Lukas Radil came from the KHL, and as a 28 year old rookie, he scored seven goals in 36 games. In his first NHL season, Finnish forward Antti Suomela had eight points in 27 games. The Sharks signed depth forward Jonny Brodzinski. In his 54 career NHL games, he has 11 points. A 2016 2nd rounder, Dylan Gambrell has played in 11 NHL games, plus two more in the playoffs. In the AHL last season, he scored 20 goals with 45 points in 51 games.

           Defensemen
Brent Burns is the rare player to get better with age. For the fourth consecutive season, the defenseman shot the puck 300 times. He scored 16 times, and his 67 assists led to a career high 83 points. He finished second in Norris voting. He is entering his age 34 season, but he hasn't missed a game since 2013-14, so don't expect a decline to happen soon. Erik Karlsson struggled with injuries in his first season with the Sharks. He played in just 53 games, and scored a career low three goals. He did have 45 points, and got an eight year extension. In the first year of an eight year deal, defensive defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic was a minus for just the second time in his career, and the first time since 2007-08. His 25 points were his lowest since 2014-15. Despite scoring just one goal, Brenden Dillon tied his career high point total of 22 thanks to his 21 assists. His +19 rating was by far a career high. With Justin Braun off to Philadelphia, Tim Heed will look to take his place. In 37 games last year, Heed had 13 points, for a 28.8 point pace. Radim Simek played only in the NHL last year. He had nine points in 41 games. Jacob Middleton played in three NHL games, making his debut. The 23 year old had 19 points in 57 games. Eight year veteran Dalton Prout signed with the Sharks. In 20 games for the Flames last year, Prout had two points.

           Goalies
The reason the Sharks fell short again was because of how bad the goaltending was last year. Only two goalies played all year for the Sharks, but they both had a SV% under .900. Martin Jones played in 60 games for the fourth consecutive season, and had his worst year, with a 2.94 GAA and .896 SV%. His backup, Aaron Dell, had a great first two NHL seasons, but faltered in the third. He had a 3.17 GAA and a .886 SV%. If the Sharks want to contend, then their goalies have to be better.

           Deep Depths
The Sharks traded for depth defenseman Trevor Carrick. Carrick played in one NHL game last year, and has played in four overall. He had 47 points in 71 AHL games. Nick Desimone could be NHL ready after scoring 14 goals with 46 points in 65 AHL games as a defenseman. Goalie Antoine Bibeau hasn't played in the NHL since 2016-17 with the Leafs. He figures as the third goalie after posting a .904 SV% in the AHL.

           Up and Coming
Ryan Merkley could be NHL ready by 2020-21. The 2018 first rounder is a defenseman, and had 71 points in 63 OHL games. He turned pro with the Barracuda (AHL), and played in six games, regular season and playoffs included. In his first full AHL season, Jeremy Roy, the first pick of the 2015 second round, had 21 points in 58 games. A 2016 2nd rounder, Jonathan Dahlen was acquired at the trade deadline in a prospect swap, then had four assists in seven AHL games. He scored 14 goals in 50 games pre trade.

           2019 draft class
Round 2, 48th overall: Artemi Kniazev
Round 2, 55th overall: Dillon Hamaliuk
Round 4, 108th overall: Yegor Spriridonov
Round 6, 164th overall: Timur Ibragimov
Round 6, 184th overall: Santeri Hatakka

           Management
The Sharks have been very consistent under Head Coach Peter DeBoer. They have improved by one point every season under him, from 98 in 2015-16, to 101 in 2018-19. They finished in third every year until a second place finish in 2018-19. Doug Wilson returns as GM. The 1981-82 Norris winner has made some savvy trades to improve the Sharks depth, including acquiring Evander Kane and Erik Karlsson.

           Projected Lineup
Timo Meier - Logan Couture - Kevin Labanc
Evander Kane - Tomas Hertl - Barclay Goodrow
Marcus Sorensen - Joe Thornton - Melker Karlsson
Lukas Radil - Dylan Gambrell - Jonny Brodzinski
Extras: Antti Suomela, Ivan Chekhovich

           Marc-Eduoard Vlasic - Brent Burns
           Brenden Dillon - Erik Karlsson
           Radim Simek - Tim Heed
Extras: Dalton Prout, Jacob Middleton

                     Martin Jones
                     Aaron Dell

            Prediction
The Sharks are a good team, and while they got worse in the offseason, losing Pavelski, Braun, Gustav Nyqvist and Joonas Donskoi, they are still a playoff team. I predict the Sharks will finish 4th in the Pacific Division, making the playoffs.

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