After making the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history in 2016, the San Jose Sharks took a step backward last season. They were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Edmonton Oilers in a six-game series.
For a team that has perennially failed to find success in the playoffs, general manager Doug Wilson did little to shake up the roster this offseason. Instead, much of his focus this summer was to try to retain their two star players, in Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
Ultimately, the Sharks could only re-sign Thornton.
As we head into this new NHL season, the Sharks look like they will give some new players a chance to step up and play a bigger role for the team. Having said that, let’s take a look at the 2017/18 edition of the San Jose Sharks and what they could potentially achieve this coming season.
Brandon Bollig (LW)
The San Jose Sharks signed Brandon Bollig to one-year, two-way contract worth $650,000.
Bollig should bring some toughness to the Sharks’ organization, but more than anything this seems more like a minor league addition. As Bollig played the entire 2016/17 season for the Stockton Heat in the AHL last year.
Antoine Bibeau (G)
Antoine Bibeau signed a one year, two-way contract with San Jose worth $650,000 this summer.
Since the Sharks already have Martin Jones and Aaron Dell as their top two goalies, Bibeau will likely spend most of next season with the San Jose Barracuda in the AHL.
Patrick Marleau (LW/C)
Patrick Marleau signed a three-year deal worth, $18.75 million, with the Toronto Maple Leafs this summer. This is a huge loss for San Jose, as Marleau averaged 26 goals for the Sharks in the past four seasons.
It is uncertain who the Sharks can depend on to make up for Marleau’s presence offensively. He is also the Sharks all-time leader in games played, goals and points, and has been the heartbeat of the Northern California franchise for well over a decade.
David Schlemko (D)
David Schlemko was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL expansion draft but was traded to the Montreal Canadiens the following day for a fifth-round draft pick in 2019 NHL draft.
The Edmonton, Alberta native played 62 games for the Sharks last year, accumulating 6 goals and 12 assists for 18 points.
Mirco Mueller (D)
Mirco Mueller was a first round pick of the San Jose Sharks back in the 2013 NHL entry draft. He has spent the past four seasons with the Sharks’ organization but appeared in 54 NHL games and wasn’t really able to solidify a full-time roster spot.
On June 17th, 2017, Muller was traded to the New Jersey Devils along with a fifth-round pick, in exchange for a second and a fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft.
Moving on up
Timo Meier (RW)
Timo Meier split time between the AHL and NHL last year. He appeared in 34 regular games for the Sharks and five playoff games.
With the departure of Patrick Marleau, Meier has a chance to move up the depth chart, and see time on the team’s top-six. With the possibility of playing a full NHL season, the Swiss can possibly use this opportunity to have a breakout year.
If the 20-year-old is able to be a 20-goal scorer for the Sharks in 2017/18, it would go a long way in making up for the loss of Marleau.
Marcus Sorensen (RW)
Like Meier, Marcus Sorensen also split time between the AHL and NHL last year. He appeared in 19 games for San Jose last year and showed that he can play at the NHL level.
Expect to see Sorensen come into the Sharks’ training camp with a chance to solidify a roster spot for the 2017/18 season.
Dylan DeMelo (D)
Dylan DeMelo was in-and-out of the Sharks’ lineup last year. He appeared in 25 games, scored one goal and added seven assists for eight points.
With the departure of David Schlemko, DeMelo will likely see a bigger role on the Sharks’ blue line. Expect DeMelo to see quality minutes on the San Jose’s bottom defensive pairing next year.
What can the San Jose Sharks achieve this season?
The San Jose Sharks are an aging team, with the majority of their core over 30 years old. With Joe Thornton (38), Joe Pavelski (33), Brent Burns (32), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (30), and Paul Martin (36), it seems like they will collectively regress as a team as time goes on.
At the same time, it is uncertain if any of their younger players, other than Logan Couture can step up and be big impact players for the team next season.
With the departure of Marleau and many teams including the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators getting better. With the group they have, it doesn’t look like the Sharks can stay competitive in the Western Conference for much longer.
A lot of the Sharks’ success next season will depend on players like Tomas Hertl, Joonas Donskoi, Mikkel Boedker, Timo Meier and Melker Karlsson to step up. Whether these players can take a big step forward and keep this San Jose Sharks team’s championship aspirations afloat is another concerning question.
Theoretically, with a legitimate number one goalie in Martin Jones and elite defenseman in Brent Burns, the Sharks should still be a playoff team next year.
However, with the Sharks’ Stanley Cup window quickly closing, going deep into the playoffs with another shot at the Stanley Cup might be a bit of a stretch for this club.
It looks like Sharks will be a treadmill team in the Western Conference next year, and are one of the few teams going on the downtrend.
Early projections look like the Anaheim Ducks, and Edmonton Oilers will be the top two teams in the Pacific Divisions. On paper, the Sharks look slightly below the Calgary Flames but will still have a chance to battle for third place in the Pacific division.
However, if I were a betting man, it is more likely that they will finish fourth place in the Pacific and just sneak into the playoffs as a wild card playoff team.
As a result, getting into the playoffs shouldn’t be an issue, but it doesn’t seem like they can beat teams like Anaheim, Edmonton, Calgary, Nashville, and Chicago.
With that said, San Jose fans should see one round of playoff hockey next spring, with a very slim possibility of their team advancing to the second round.
Truthfully speaking, their 2016 trip to the Stanley Cup finals vs the Pittsburgh Penguins might have been this team’s best shot to win it all, under the Doug Wilson era. Which is unfortunate to see, especially for players like Thornton, Pavelski, and Burns who all deserve to have their name on the Stanley Cup.
Do you agree with this analysis? What do you think the Sharks can achieve in the 2017/18 NHL season? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to vote in the poll.
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