San Jose Sharks Preview: 2016-17 NHL Season Finish


The preseason is over. Rosters are set. The 2016-17 NHL season starts Wednesday, Oct. 12. Thus, the time for a San Jose Sharks preview has come…

Every team submitted a final roster to the league Tuesday, Oct. 11. Thus we know everything that can be known about a team a day before the 2016-17 NHL season begins. Therefore, now is the time for a San Jose Sharks preview.

Nothing of significance is predictable before the season starts. However, comparing rosters gives us a glimpse of each’s potential. The best teams either add needed pieces or kept their rosters intact from a successful 2015-16 NHL season.

For instance, 17 of the 20 players San Jose will dress nightly were part of the 2016 Stanley Cup finals run. There was only one surprise among the final cuts announced by the team: Barclay Goodrow played well enough to make the team, but Timo Meier made the roster despite being out with mononucleosis.

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The Sharks start from a good position with a talented roster. The only question mark on this team is backup goalie Aaron Dell. He has looked good so far and could easily and inexpensively be replaced if he falters.

Moreover, no NHL team is deeper at the two skating positions. San Jose added little but lost less during the offseason. The roster is cohesive, faster than a year ago and has a season under its belt in head coach Peter DeBoer‘s system. That will help build on a Stanley Cup finals run last spring.

Ranking Team Teal

The Sharks are not just the team to beat in the Western Conference because they won last season. The four-time Pacific Division champion Anaheim Ducks are the only other team with the same depth.

Anaheim has two legitimate starting goalies, but neither as good as San Jose’s Martin Jones. Similarly, top-end skating talent is not equal.

Jan 30, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Pacific Division defenseman Brent Burns (88) of the San Jose Sharks stands on the red carpet with teammate Pacific Division forward Joe Pavelski (8) prior to the 2016 NHL All Star Game Skills Competition at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Any San Jose Sharks preview must start with the team’s star power. Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Both Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are world-class blue-line talents. Justin Braun and Paul Martin are as good as any third and fourth defensemen. Brenden Dillon, David Schlemko and Dylan DeMelo are solid third-pair options. Mirco Mueller has experience and talent behind them.

That adds up to the best blue line in the game. The forwards are almost as impressive.

Even without Meier healthy, the Sharks have three legitimate scoring lines. Led by Captain America  Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl are staying together. Mikkel Boedker appears to have made the second line with Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi.

Patrick Marleau, Joel Ward and Melker Karlsson are scoring forwards left to a checking line. A blossoming Chris Tierney joins the bottom half while former scoring forwards Tommy Wingels and Matt Nieto will battle to dress once Meier is ready.

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Behind them is a enforcer Micheal Haley and reserves in AHL: Goodrow, Nikolay Goldobin and Ryan Carpenter have already made their NHL debuts. Kevin Labanc played well enough to see action at some point this season.

Thus San Jose is eight deep on the blue line and 18 at forward. It has three scoring lines and two stud pairs.

Playoff Seeding

No team is even likely to win a division much less be the top seed in the Western Conference. However, no team is more likely to win the Pacific Division and Central Division teams face an uphill climb to compete for the top seed given their more difficult schedule.

San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks belong as favorites to play for the Stanley Cup again next summer. Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

The rest of the Pacific Division’s postseason teams are likely to be only the Ducks and Los Angeles Kings (in that order). With every Central Division team but the Colorado Avalanche and Winnipeg Jets contending for that title, all five will make it in. Look for the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars to fall off, the Chicago Blackhawks to hold and the Minnesota Wild to ascend.

However, the Nashville Predators should win the Central Division in the regular season. Look for Chicago and Minnesota to again be matched up in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, with the other teams earning wild cards.

How the playoffs unfold is a story for another day. What the San Jose Sharks preview clearly shows is a team with as goos a chance to win the Stanley Cup as any after the 2016-17 NHL season.