San Jose Sharks
Head Coach: Peter DeBoer
Key Additions: Erik Karlsson, Joe Thornton (injury)
Key Losses: Chris Tierney, Dyaln DeMelo, Erik Fehr, Joel Ward, Jannik Hansen, Mikkel Boedker, Joe Thornton’s Beard.
Strengths: Blue Line, Penalty Kill, Top six
Weaknesses: Power Play, Bottom Six
Predicted Point Total: 112 (52-22-8)
Yeah, I know. This is a San Jose Sharks blog, and we’re picking them to win the division, and sort of run away with it. But, in fairness, we wouldn’t have done this ’til about three weeks ago. New addition Erik Karlsson is just that good and adds to an already elite blue line.
Karlsson will step in and pair with elite defensive defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, which could arguably be the best pairing in the NHL. Brent Burns will stay with running mate Joakim Ryan as they connected last season as a pretty nice pairing.
Ryan is a stay at home defenseman and he can counter Burns’ risky free-wheeling offensive style. Burns defensively leaves something to be desired, and is often out of position due to him pinching on nearly every offensive possession. But Burns, even in an off year last season still netted 67 points on a five-year low 12 goals.
Burns had a 3.60 shooting percentage on 332 shots which is almost unheard of. He takes very low-percentage shots, but even still, that is out of this world low. Expect that number to rebound as Burns will find himself taking less shots, as he may not need to now with Karlsson on the other pairing, and a healthy Joe Thornton back at the helm.
The San Jose Sharks last season posted the second best penalty kill in all of hockey, behind only the LA Kings by a couple decimal points. Newest Ottawa Senator Chris Tierney had a pretty major part to play in that, as he was the forward anchor to the penalty kill, but they retained Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun who will reunite on the PK this year for the Sharks.
Here is where I mention goalie Martin Jones. I have a different opinion of Jonsey than others do. To me, Martin Jones is an elite goaltender in this league. According to Corsica Hockey, Martin Jones’ 81.25 HDSV% (High Danger Save Percentage) ranks 8th among goalies with over 2,000 minutes of ice time last season.
Jones gets a bit of a bad rap, as he can lose focus, which could account for his relatively low MDSV%(Mid-Danger) of 90.04 which isn’t what you want out of your starting goaltender. But, there is talk around town that Jones was dealing with a few injuries, which contributed to his lack of focus and apparent loss of some quickness.
But the hype train has left Diridon Station. The Sharks should be the odds on favorite to win the Pacific Division. They have the firepower up front with a healthy Joe Thornton, and a full season of happy Evander Kane. And the Firepower in the back with the best blue line in all of hockey (dont @ me Predlines!)