Friday, 26 September 2014

NHL: San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks come into the 2014-15 season with a nearly identical roster from last year.  Despite the lack of movement this off season, the team has a lot of questions still left unanswered.  For starters, who is going to be captain this year?  With big Joe Thorton losing his captaincy this off season, the team is currently left without a leader.  I have come to the conclusion that  Joe Pavelski is the best bet to take over as captain.  He is a great skater and plays a dangerous two way game.  He has exploded offensively recently, picking up 41 goals last season.  If Pavelski does not take over the reigns, it seems like Logan Couture is the only other viable option.  Couture is only 25, but has already shown his maturity and leadership on this dynamic Shark roster.  Whether it be Pavelski or Couture wearing the "C"; it will not matter.  The team is beginning to turn the pages into a new era of hockey in San Jose.  Given the aging core of the team, it looks as if they want to start fresh.  Veterans like Joe Thorton and Patrick Marleau will still be around, but their appears to be a change of the guard in San Jose.

I believe the Sharks will possess great depth at all forward positions, but they simply do not have all the pieces in place to pull out a championship.  For starters, the Sharks goal tending has been mediocre at best for nearly 10 seasons.  Sure, every year or two they will have some consistency; However, I do not believe that Antti Niemi is good enough to compete with the best.  He is a solid goalie, but the West is a nearly impossible conference to dominate with average goaltending.

The Sharks defense is not as deep as they would like either.  They do have two outstanding guys in Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.  This is assuming the coaching staff plays Burns as a defenseman this season.  He has been bouncing from wing to defense for some time now.  After this top pair, the back end really drops off for the Sharks.  Losing Dan Boyle this off season could prove to be the demise for the Sharks back end.  Without Boyle, they have nobody who can quarter back the Power-play.  The experience and poise he brought to the team is not something that will be easily replaced.

When everything is said and done, the Sharks will probably have a great regular season record.  However, playoffs are a different story..  Joe Thorton and Patrick Marleau have a bad reputation in the playoffs, and their time to change that perspective is limited.  I expect a huge effort, but it will be tough for them to stay consistent in the meat grinder which is the Western conference.