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Taking a Bite out of the Sharks Written by habsfan93 - November 30th, -0001

Until the arrival of Dan Ramage (aka Sharky), the Sharks were anything but what their name attests to. Lacking any bite whatsoever, they failed to make the playoffs in two consecutive seasons. However, the turnaround of this team has been as remarkable as any story in the CMHL's short history. Known for his voracious appetite for trading, and his never faltering confidence in his own team's ability, Sharky has made the playoffs in both his first two seasons as General Manager of the Sharks.

However, both those post-season trips ended in 1st round defeats to the Columbus Blue Jackets, most recently in a Game 7 heartbreaker after a back and forth affair saw the teams trade wins right through to the final match. But Sharky perseveres, and with a new lineup in tow, has big plans for a 3rd straight postseason trip.

Sharky wasted little time this summer revamping the roster to his liking after that first round exit. As of right now, let's take a look at the projected Sharks lines as this authors sees them...

Marco Sturm - David Legwand - Bill Guerin
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Bobby Holik - Miroslav Satan
Rene Bourque - Chris Gratton - Mike Zigomanis
Dave Steckel - Daniel Winnik - Christoph Schubert

Zdeno Chara -  Kurtis Foster
Jeff Schultz - Nick Schultz
Matt Jones - Trevor Daley

Martin Gerber
Brent Johnson

The first line represents a potent offensive punch. Legwand and Sturm can pass with the best of them and newly acquired winger Bill Guerin has a knack for scoring clutch goals. He'll really welcome a move to San Jose if he gets to play with these two, with 30, if not 40 goal potential written all over him.

The second line provides a balanced secondary scoring unit as Poni can pass, Bobby can score, and the devil can just do anything. The third unit combines offensive and defensive ability, which is generally exactly what you're looking for in a third line - 3 guys who can hold their own end and chip in some key points here and there. It will be interesting to see how Chris Gratton plays out on this line as he has a tendancy to be undisciplined in his own zone which can cost him at times.

The fourth line represents the typical, coveted, defensive forward line. Steckel and Winnik are both masters of the defensive game and Schubert is a converted defenceman who exudes toughness. Opponents are not going to like playing against this trio.

The defence is once again anchored by towering franchise player, Zdeno Chara. Chara was at his best and his worst last season, and in particular in the post season. When Chara was on the ice with Joe Sakic, the Blue Jackets game came to a screeching halt. However, like Gratton, Chara is known to have a tendancy to take penalties at the wrong time in the wrong games and this may continue to cost the Sharks as time passes.

Newly acquired Kurtis Foster adds some offence to the back end and he is expected to quarterback the Sharks power play this season. The Schultz boys round out the top 4 - known for their stellar defence, these two brothers from a different mother (and father) will be expected to log some major minutes this season. Rounding out the top 6 are the dependable Matt Jones and Trevor Daley.

One of the biggest, and most controversial, changes that Sharky made this summer was shipping out netminder Evgeni Nabokov to the Wild for Martin Gerber. It's widely believed that Nabokov is poised for a breakout, potentially Vezina-winning year, and many feel that this was an odd time to trade him for an unproven Gerber, who has never been a starting goalie at the CMHL Pro level. Backing him up once again will be Brent Johnson.

A recent consensus of GM's expressed concern that the Sharks' roster has taken a step backwards and that the playoffs may be out of reach in a very tough Western Conference. However, while that remains to be seen, what is not being denied is the strides that GM Sharky has made in improving the youth and future of the Sharks. With 3 first round picks in this summer's draft which took place a few weeks prior, including the 6th overall pick of Nikita Filatov, the Sharks' future outlook is turning brighter every day.

With free agency opening this past weekend, many wondered if Sharky was waiting for Free Agency to make a splash and add a big component to the roster. Well, he didn't add a Niedermayer or a Dumont, but rather Sharky continued to look to the future, adding young prospect Kiel McLeod for salary lower than an entry level deal. If McLeod pans out, its deals like this that differentiate a good GM from a great GM.

Little is known about the future, but one thing is for sure, unlike 4 years ago when the league started, these Sharks have bite!

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