Which San Jose Sharks Are Heading Towards Breakout Years

CALGARY, AB DECEMBER 14, 2017: Teammates of the San Jose Sharks sit on the bench in a game against the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night. (Photo by Brad Watson/NHLI via Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB DECEMBER 14, 2017: Teammates of the San Jose Sharks sit on the bench in a game against the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night. (Photo by Brad Watson/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Czech goalkeeper Pavel Francouz stops a shot from Finland’s Antti Suomela during the Finland vs the Czech Republic ice hockey match in the Sweden Hockey Games in the Scandinavium Arena in Goteborg, Sweden, February 11, 2017./ AFP / TT News Agency / Bjorn LARSSON ROSVALL / Sweden OUT (Photo credit should read BJORN LARSSON ROSVALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Czech goalkeeper Pavel Francouz stops a shot from Finland’s Antti Suomela during the Finland vs the Czech Republic ice hockey match in the Sweden Hockey Games in the Scandinavium Arena in Goteborg, Sweden, February 11, 2017./ AFP / TT News Agency / Bjorn LARSSON ROSVALL / Sweden OUT (Photo credit should read BJORN LARSSON ROSVALL/AFP/Getty Images) /

Antti Suomela, Center

The San Jose Sharks are banking on Antti Suomela to make an impact on this team sooner rather than later. The Sharks haven’t had the best of luck with drafting future NHL players, but have supplemented those draft pick misses with hitting on free agents from outside of the NHL.

Suomela is coming off a monster year in the Finnish Elite League and are hoping he can fill this teams is lack of center depth left by Chris Tierney’s departure to Ottawa.

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It is always difficult to tell how an international player’s skill set will transfer onto the smaller ice surface of the NHL. There’s a lot of mystery behind these players who spent their entire professional career in Europe.

Interestingly, the Sharks have found recent success with players like Joonas Donskoi, Marcus Sorenson and Melker Karlsson, from the international market. The bottom six is the biggest question mark going into next season, but there is reason to believe that Suomela could be the answer.

Antti Suomela, signed this offseason to a one year contract, led the entire Finnish Elite League in points with 60, 21 of which were goals. Over the past two seasons Suomela amassed a total of 105 points, stats per Liiga.

Suomela also was proficient in the face-off circle. He took over 1,700 of them in his Finnish Elite League Career, while maintaining over a 50% clip during that time. The San Jose Sharks are hoping his consistency on the dot can translate over to the NHL.

Suomela is unlikely to get significant offensive zone time during next season, but with the talent on the Sharks roster he will still likely be able maximize his ice time. The Finnish forward spends very little time with the puck on his stick. He quickly reads the defense and either fires a wrist shot at the net, or dumps the puck off to a nearby teammate.

This type of quick decision making is extremely helpful in a much faster paced NHL. The Sharks definitely have confidence in his game and want to see him play more so look for him to play quite a bit during the short preseason.