2017-18 San Jose Sharks Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
Last year Brent Burns was spectacular, the rest of the offense was only okay, the defense was strong, and the San Jose Sharks won 46 games. Solid enough. But when they wound up losing in the first round of the playoffs no one could really pretend to be that surprised. They made a run to the Stanley Cup final in 2016, but that was the only time in the last six seasons that they hadn't underwhelmed in the playoffs - if they even got there.
This team has had a window open for a surprisingly long time, yet they have never found a way to take advantage of it. Now they face a very tough, deep Western Conference and a core that features some dudes who can't be called young anymore. They could still be very competitive. Or they could take a step backwards, struggling to keep up in what has become a very intense arms race in this conference. This is one of the tougher teams in the NHL to understand right now.
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San Jose Sharks Offseason Moves
Patrick Marleau is one of those athletes who defines a team, and vice versa. Drafted second overall in the 1997 NHL Draft - behind longtime teammate Joe Thornton, oddly enough - Marleau played nearly 1,500 regular-season games for the team, amassing 1,082 points. Marleau was the Sharks. For a sentimental sports fan like me, it will be not just odd but wrong to see Marleau in a different jersey this year. For some reason, though, now that he will be 38 when this season starts, he felt it was time to try something new, and he signed a three-year deal in Toronto - presumably to finish out his career. His departure leaves a big scoring gap and a bigger leadership gap. It is also uncertain what Thornton will look like at this stage without Marleau.
Aside from losing Marleau, it was not a particularly active offseason. The team shifted around a few free agents, but they were all depth guys. They lost solid defender David Schlemko in the expansion draft, so they have a depth hole to address there. Where they were most active, though, was on the contract front, locking up two very important pieces. Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, a key piece going forward, signed an eight-year deal at $7 million per. Thornton signed another one-year deal for $8 million - he could have a longer deal if he wanted it. And goalie Martin Jones is locked in long term - six years and $34.5 million. Despite the moves, the team still has significant cap space to deal with if they choose to.
The team's first-round pick was center Josh Norris of the US National Development Team. He joined the Michigan Wolverines this year, so he is at least a year, and likely two, away.
San Jose Sharks NHL Outlook
Brent Burns is asked to do too much for this team. Aside from strong defense, he led the team in points and assists and was tied for the team lead in goals. And Thornton can't be relied upon forever, either - he's 38 in a young-man's league. This team needs younger guys to step up. Tomas Hertl couldn't stay healthy last year and wasn't very effective when he did. Mikkel Boedker was a real disappointment last year after signing a new deal. And youngster Timo Meier didn't look nearly as ready as people hoped last year. Guys like Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski are very good, but it was secondary scoring that made this team so dangerous en route to the Stanley Cup final in 2016, and it isn't immediately clear where that will come from now. This is a rare team in the Western Conference that didn't improve in the offseason. In a conference that was already deep, and got significantly better, I'm not sure this team could afford to lose ground and still remain competitive. Playoff berth demand exceeds supply this year in the West, and I wouldn't at all be surprised if the Sharks find themselves on the outside looking in.
San Jose Sharks Schedule
The first 15 games of the season for the Sharks are just plain odd. They start with five straight home games. Then they immediately head out for five road games before returning home for five more at home. I'm not sure it means too much, but it's strange enough to be notable.
San Jose Sharks NHL Futures Odds
Bovada has San Jose at +2500 to win the Stanley Cup, which is tied with Boston and Calgary behind 14 other teams. BetOnline has San Jose at +1100 to win the Western Conference, which has them tied with the Kings and behind six other teams. At +400 they are the third choice to win the Pacific Division behind Edmonton and Anaheim. The season win total sits at 43.5. Last year the team won 46 games.
2017-18 San Jose Sharks Predictions
I'm not overly optimistic. They will be fine and will be right around their season win total, but fine isn't good enough in the West anymore. I'll come right out and say it - this isn't going to be a playoff team anymore. A tough team to play on any given night but just not quite good enough.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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