The San Jose Sharks broke through their most immediate glass ceiling when finally reaching the Stanley Cup finals in 2016 after years of playoff heartbreak. The Sharks, which this decade have twice lost in the conference finals and also coughed up a 3-0 series lead in the first round as a No. 2 seed in 2014, finally shed the under-achieving label with hard-fought win in six games over the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference finals. San Jose fell to the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals 4-2.
San Jose Sharks 2016-17 NHL Outlook
San Jose's first-ever run to the Stanley Cup Finals came as a bit of a surprise as many felt the window of opportunity had closed for its core of aging stars (Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, Patrick Marleau). But that wasn't the case. Left-winger Thornton, 37, tallied a point a game (19 G, 63 A); 32-year-old center Pavelski finished with 38 goals and 40 assists; Burns, 31, nearly won the Norris Trophy as top defenseman with 27 goals and 48 assists; and 37-year-old Marleau finished with 48 points (25 G, 23 A).
Can this battle-tested group do it one more time? They did acquire some reinforcements in the offseason, adding LW Mikkel Boedker (17 G, 34 A) from Arizona and veteran defenseman David Schlemko from the Devils. Boedker is a rather intriguing addition to an already-stacked offensive attack. Many observers believe the 26-year-old former first-round pick, who spent his career on mostly bad teams, has 60-point potential with this group.
One other potentially big boost for the Sharks would be a full season of Logan Couture. In the discussion as the best second-line center in hockey, Couture was limited by injuries to just 52 regular-season games last season. But once healthy in the postseason, Couture shined by tallying 30 points in 24 games.
The depth on defense in San Jose did take a bit of a hit this offseason. Roman Polak, a tough and efficient defender, left for the Maple Leafs and backup goalie James Reimer (17-14-7, 2.31 GA) signed with the Panthers.
San Jose Sharks 2016-17 Schedule
The Sharks will get their road legs early this season. After opening at home against the Kings, the Sharks head out on a five-game eastern road trip. They start in Columbus against the Blue Jackets, play both the Rangers and Islanders in New York before a intriguing Stanley Cup Finals rematch against the Penguins.
San Jose Sharks NHL Future Odds
The Sharks are listed at +1600 to win the Stanley Cup. They are the third-choice to win the Pacific Division at +260 behind the Kings (+225) and Sharks (+225). San Jose is +750 to again win the Western Conference, which is tied for fourth choice behind the Blackhawks (+375), Stars (+650) and Ducks (+650).
2016-17 San Jose Sharks Predictions
Only three teams in hockey averaged more goals per game than the Sharks did a season ago. This is a team built on high-volume attacking, but one area of concern was exposed by the Penguins in the Cup finals: a lack of pace. San Jose simply couldn't keep up with the Penguins. finals: a lack of pace. San Jose simply couldn't keep up with the Penguins. As the NHL increasingly shifts to more of a speed game, this is obviously a concern.
Still, no team in the NHL can trot out the bevy of top-end talent such as the Sharks. Yes, that core group is another year older. But these guys are like the Spurs of the NHL, seemingly getting better with age. Until shown otherwise, we're rolling with the Sharks this season.
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