2014 San Jose Sharks Predictions and NHL Futures Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 10/6/2014
The Sharks topped 100 points for the seventh time in 10 years and opened up a fast 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings. Perhaps this was the year when they finally took advantage of their potential and did something in the playoffs. If you know how the playoffs ended, though, then you know that didn't happen. Instead, the Sharks lost four straight, and they had more than a few stretches of looking downright incompetent in doing it. It was perhaps the toughest loss for a franchise that is the master of leaving the playoffs too soon.
To try to reverse course, the Sharks have made one significant change - though it is one that rings hollow to me. They have stripped Joe Thornton of the captaincy, choosing instead to go with '23 captains'. A lot of NHL teams attach too much significance to the C, and the Sharks are obviously one of those. The team is largely the same that lost to the Kings last year, so to assume that a change in the letter on a jersey is going to dramatically change the culture or performance of the team seems naive at best. There is also the chance that Thornton will respond negatively to the demotion, but he's such a pro that I'm not too worried about that.
San Jose Sharks Offseason Moves
The team is going into this season with pretty much the same team that they had last season, a sign that they are choosing to believe that the regular-season success was a better representative of what the team actually is than the postseason failure. The only significant moves were departures. They let 38-year-old defenseman Dan Boyle leave as a free agent and weren't sad to see underperforming forward Martin Havlat move on. With so few changes we know that there should be a degree of urgency surrounding the team. If they have yet another too-early exit from the playoffs then management could be forced to make more sweeping changes - and GM Doug Wilson and coach Todd McLellan could find themselves jobless, too. If the 23 captains really do like playing together then they will want to make sure they win when it matters.
Nikolay Goldobin. a Russian winger, was the team's first pick in this year's NHL Draft. He has had an exceptional training camp and will get a shot with the team to start the year. If he plays like he has so far then he could stick around. Fellow rookies Chris Tierney and Barclay Goodrow have also been very strong in camp, so there is a chance that the Sharks could have a real infusion of youth to start the year.
San Jose Sharks NHL Outlook
I'm not even going to waste the effort to consider the regular season for this team. They are going to be very good because they are always very good. They can score, they can defend, and goaltending will be fine - though Antii Niemi needs to find his mojo again after winding up in the doghouse in the playoffs. They will be an elite Western Conference team, but that will be totally irrelevant if they don't at least make the Western Conference final - and perhaps take the next step for the first time. They are absolutely capable of going all the way - just like they have been for the last decade.
San Jose Sharks Schedule
The schedule makers do not like this team much, it seems. They have to open the season by facing their demons in L.A. - and presumably watching the Kings raise their Stanley Cup banner. Then they play one game at home before heading on the road for five on the East Coast. Then it's two at home before three more on the road to end the month. That's nine of the first 12 on the road. That will level out later on - and that can provide the team a boost. A lot of road games could spell a slow start if the team isn't sharp, though.
San Jose Sharks NHL Futures Odds (from Bovada)
The Sharks are 14/1 to win the Stanley Cup , which puts them tied with Minnesota for seventh in the league. They are the sixth choice to win the Western Conference at 8/1. In relative terms, at least, there is some value there. They are the third choice to win the brutal Pacific Division at 9/4 - behind the Ducks and Kings at 7/4.
2014-15 San Jose Sharks Predictions
I don't like going against trends unless I really have a good reason to do so. I don't here. This team will get a lot of regular-season points, will make the playoffs comfortably, and then will be sent home trying to figure out what the heck happened before the second round ends. I have to assume frustrating underachievement until I finally see otherwise.
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