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2017-2018 NHL Preview: San Jose Sharks

Father time is taking it's toll on the Sharks with the backfilling talent at least a year out

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Sixteenth up are the San Jose Sharks who are in their 26th season as a team. They have made the playoffs 19 of their 26 seasons and 6 of those they were the top team in their division, they can rarely translate it to playoff success though playing in the Stanley Cup finals just once.

Basic Stats:
2016-2017 NHL Standings: 12th
Western Conference Standings: 6th
Pacific Division Standings: 3rd
Goals for Rank: 19th
Goals against Rank: 5th

: The ship that is the San Jose Sharks tilted heavily backward last year as they went from an offense machine to more of a defense powerhouse. 4th in goals scored in 2015-2016 they regressed to 19th last year. Patrick Marleau was signed to an astronomical 3 year $18MM contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs (Patrick is 37). The kicker here is even with his age, I think this will hit San Jose harder than most think. Over the last 5 years he has been a consistent mainstay for the Sharks logging top 5 forward minutes with top 5 points on the team each year. Joe Thornton (currently 40 years old) regressed from 85 points down to 50 last year which seems more like his production going forward. Brent Burns (now 32) isn't likely getting any higher (despite the fact that he continues to amaze me each year with his strong production), Joe Pavelski (33) and Logan Couture (28) are in a similar boat. The team is the third oldest in the league and I'm not overtly bullish on their backfilling youth in the short term. I think the loss of Todd McLellan at coach hurt more than they thought it would as he moved to Edmonton and continued to show why he and Bruce Boudreau are two of the greatest regular season head coaches. In net, both Aaron Dell and Martin Jones were solid but part of it is due to the fact that San Jose faced the third fewest shots in the NHL, partially on the shoulders of Justin Braun and Marc-Edouard Vlassic who are both in the top 30 in the NHL in blocked shots. Martin's stats of 2.40GAA and .912 SV % seem in par with normal, Aaron Dell's 2.00GAA and .931SV % are a tall order to keep up (those are Vezina stats), he will regress a bit. Lost production on offense plus some regression on goals allowed will bring them down the standings a bit.

Major Additions
: None
Major Subtractions: Patrick Marleau

Prospects and Picks:
-Josh Norris. He is my sleeper from the 2017 draft and San Jose got the memo as they drafted him a solid 10 picks ahead of his projected spot. Insert joke here about combine winners going to the Oakland bay area as Joshua dominated the NHL combine winning the long jump, vertical jump wingate test and finished in the top 5 in a few others. It's more than the combine though, Joshua scored 61 points with the U18 US national team last year. Look for him to be a two way threat at the University of Michigan this year.

-Danny O'Regan. A 5th round draftee in the 2012 NHL draft, he spent 4 years at Boston University scoring 154 points across 154 games. He did well with the AHL afficilate San Jose Barracuda scoring 58 points over 63 games last year. I'm not sure if there is a spot on the roster and he might need another year to develop physically if they choose not to bring him up as a shutdown center.

Sleeper Fantasy Asset:
-Melker Karlsson. I'm putting him on here SOLEY because he could see top 6 minutes with some power play time. I don't think he's more than a 40 point player and even at a career high 15% shooting percentage last year he netted just 22 points across 67 games. Deep league flier at best.

- Timo Meier. The 9th overall pick in the 2015 draft was brought up for 34 games last year scoring just 6 points before being sent down to develop some more. There is an off chance he gets top 6 minutes as he is the top prospect for them; however, I think he needs time to develop. Watching him play last year he looked like he still needed some time before playing full time in the NHL. Unless I see something early, I'm not bullish on him being a full time part of the team.

Cap Situation:
They currently have around $8.7MM with 19 players signed.

Projected finish:
2017-2018 NHL Standings: 16th
Western Conference Standings: 7th
Pacific Division: 4th

NHL 17th: Dallas Stars (Western Conference 8th; Central Division 4th)

NHL 18th: Philadelphia Flyers (Eastern Conference 10th; Metropolitan Division 6th)

NHL 19th: Winnipeg Jets (Western Conference 9th; Central Division 5th)

NHL 20th: St. Louis Blues (Western Conference 10th; Central Division 6th)

NHL 21st: Boston Bruins (Eastern Conference 11th; Atlantic Division 5th)

NHL 22nd: Buffalo Sabres (Eastern Conference 12th; Atlantic Division 6th)

NHL 23rd: Arizona Coyotes (Western Conference 11th; Pacific Division 5th)

NHL 24th: Los Angeles Kings (Western Conference 12th; Pacific Division 6th)

NHL 25th: New Jersey Devils (Eastern Conference 13th; Metropolitan Division 7th)

NHL 26th: Detroit Red Wings (Eastern Conference 14th; Atlantic Division 7th)

NHL 27th: New York Islanders (Eastern Conference 15th; Metropolitan Division 8th)

NHL 28th: Vancouver Canucks (Western Conference 13th; Pacific Division 7th)

NHL 29th: Florida Panthers (Eastern Conference 16th; Atlantic Division 8th)

NHL 30th: Las Vegas Golden Knights (Western Conference 14th; Pacific Division 8th)

NHL 31st: Colorado Avalanche (Western Conference 15th; Central Division 7th)