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Season 5 Preview - San Jose Sharks Written by habsfan93 - November 30th, -0001

For two years straight now, the Sharks have met a similar fate - a quarter-finals loss to arch-rivals, the Columbus Blue Jackets. Last spring, they took the Jackets to 7 games, as they managed to shut down Joe Sakic on 3 nights, but he escaped them the rest. GM Sharky is not known around the league for being hesitant. He'll pull off a deal faster than a poker champion. But lately he's settled down, at least compared to before, and by allowing the team to build chemistry, he's hoping that a little patience will turn into bigger results.



Did I say patience? I forgot to mention that Sharky has made a flurry of trades in the last week or two as he tries to shake his team up after a 3-5 start.

DISCLAIMER: The author understands that this preview will probably expire in 24-48 hours when Sharky pulls off another major blockbuster move.

Currently manning the offence is recent acquiree Olli Jokinen, who just days ago, we previewed as being a key cog of the Dallas Stars lineup. He's here now, a little tired from the plane trip, and he's ready to score some goals. Assisting him will be another very recent acquisition - Patrik Elias, who is also very tired from the plane trip from Ottawa. GM Sharky better be careful or his team will be renamed the Jets(Lags). Thomas Vanek, after a breakout year in Calgary, has been brought in to add punch to the first line. He'll be fighting for ice time with veteran Bill Guerin, who had a career worst year last year in Philly, and would love to rebound in a big way.

The supporting cast includes Michael Nylander, who thrived last year on a big line in Edmonton, and he might be in tough to do the same in San Jose, though playing with either Vanek or Guerin should ensure he gets a decent number of passes. There's a definite weakness on this team though, as they are lacking a true #2 LW with Daniel Paille currently being the best option. He's a decent offensive player, but unless he finds real chemistry with Nylander, there could be a lack of offence coming from this position. The 3rd and 4th lines are well built with effective defensive forwards, such as Dave Steckel, Daniel Winnik, JP Vigier, and Matt Cullen.


Last year, San Jose grew a reputation for having the strongest, most punishing defence in the league. They're a little softer this year with the loss of Chara and Boynton, but still a very respectable top 6 group. Tom Poti leads the bunch, although he had a down year last year, he could be in for a rebound if he gets big minutes. Rob Blake is on his last legs, but can still act as a very good #2 or 3 man. Roman Hamrlik provides a steady all-around influence, while Karlis Skrastins is among the best pure defenders in the CMHL. Rounded out by Jim Vandermeer and Ladislav Smid, this is a good and steady group.


GM Sharky made a questionable move in nets, dealing away star netminder Evgeni Nabokov and bringing in the unproven Martin Gerber. Nabokov was a franchise player and guaranteed the Sharks a fighting chance every single night. With Gerber, the chances are less certain. Only time will tell if this was a good decision, or an impulse trade gone wrong. Yann Danis is a capable backup, but my bet is before the end of the year, there will be a change in nets in San Jose.


San Jose has solid, if unspectacular, depth on the farm. A couple of guys there are ready for the show, most notably Joe Pavelski and Cory Murphy. Al Montoya represents a recently acquired top netminding prospect. Tyler Myers is a big body who may be a few years away, but has stellar potential. Altogether, not terribly deep, but not horrible either.


The Sharks are not in a position now where they can be confident about making any serious strides beyond the last two year's performance. Don't be surprised if they spend the season fighting for that 7-8 spot, much like they have been doing for 2 years. Without Nabokov in net, they seriously hurt their chances, and I wouldn't be putting any big money on this squad making the playoffs.

Quick Hits

Best Bargain: Daniel Winnik - At $300,000, Winnik is a stellar steal and can man the 3rd or 4th lines and take on serious PK time. Nice signing this was!
Most Overpaid: Bill Guerin - Another veteran at the end of his career capitalizing on a good couple of years in his prime. Guerin is a shadow of the player he was but is reaping the benefits.
Breakout Player: Thomas Vanek - Right now Vanek is good. But he could be scary good. Boo!
Overrated: Rob Blake - Blake carries the respect of a #1 dman, but he's in his final days as an NHL defencemen. Don't be surprised to see a reduction in performance from him this year.

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