2018 San Jose Sharks Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
Update: Big news always happens after you have published something. And news doesn’t get much bigger than this. San Jose traded for defenseman Erik Karlsson, one of the top five best players in the league no matter how you slice it. Ottawa is a burning garbage pile, and Karlsson wasn’t re-signing there after this year, so he had to go. By making this move and adding the two-way savant to a defensive corps that already includes Burns and Vlasic, you have, on paper, one of the best defensive units ever. Their offensive upside will give teams fits.
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Doug Wilson is one of the better GMs in the league, and he sure proved it here. This is a very good price for a guy like Karlsson — even if they can’t extend him and he is only around for this season. They have up a 2020 first-round pick and a 2019 second-round pick, but neither will be high picks in all likelihood. There were four players involved, but the two prospects were not the top two in the team’s system, and the two players are young but don’t have super high ceilings. Wilson traded for a generational player and gave up parts that won’t be particularly missed — a lot of parts, but not gilded ones.
The impact on this team and the conference of this deal is huge. San Jose instantly vaults into the territory of playoff lock in the Pacific and has to be considered the solid favorite to win the division. Karlsson is that significant.
This is a deal that will be viewed with universal positivity from the San Jose perspective, and we can expect futures line movement to reflect that in the coming days. Not many guys can impact a playoff race this significantly just by being traded.
Stop me if you have heard this before - the San Jose Sharks are a very good team that could easily win the Pacific but could almost as easily find themselves out of the playoffs entirely if their luck is bad because the Western Conference is so brutally deep this year. Rarely has we seen a conference so deep and, aside from the top two teams, so hard to differentiate. You can make a case for 12 different teams to be playoff teams, and you don't have to try too hard in any of the cases. The Sharks have a strong core, and they are probably similar or even a little improved in terms of personnel from the team that went to the Stanley Cup finals just three years ago. But some key guys aren't getting younger - most notably Joe Thornton, who they are relying on to be their top center even though he is 39 and coming off a torn ACL last March. The upside is here - more than several contenders - but so is the downside. This team and the Kings have a tight rivalry, so it's interesting how similar their situations really are this year - both will be good if they can stay healthy, get lucky, and beat Father Time.
San Jose Sharks Offseason Moves
The biggest accomplishment of this offseason was spending a whole lot of money. They locked down newly-acquired Evander Kane for seven seasons, and Logan Couture for eight, thereby allocating $15 million from their cap each year. Those deals, both necessary and fair, followed big deals last year for goalie Martin Jones and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, so this team is definitely not at the forefront of cap flexibility going forward.
Free agency consisted mostly of shuffling supporting pieces around. Perhaps the most interesting move was that the team took a flyer on Antti Suomela, a forward who led the top Finnish league in scoring last year. He cost very little, so the risk is low, and it could pay off as a depth forward. If that's the most intriguing move, though, then management clearly mostly liked what they had.
A team as consistently solid as this one has to be patient with the draft, so this year's top pick, Ryan Merkley, is a project who is likely a few years away. Instead, the youngsters who will be the top threats to push for playing time are earlier draft picks - 2016 second-round forward Dylan Gambrell is probably the closest to being ready.
San Jose Sharks NHL Outlook
There are three big factors that are likely to define this season this year. The first is Joe Thornton. He is penciled in on the top line, but he is not too far removed from serious injuries to both knees now, and he is 39 and will pass 1,500 NHL games a couple of weeks into his season. He is as good a playmaker as anyone, but that can't last forever. With the investment in Kane, they need Thornton to play beside him and make things work, but that is no certainty. The second factor is Kane himself. He's a very talented guy who fit into San Jose well when he arrived later last year. But he is only 27-years-old, and he has already worn his welcome out with two franchises. Those teams haven't moved on from him because he can't play. He needs to mature, and if he hasn't then he could be a negative - and the massive contract won't be a positive factor if he isn't in a good place. And finally, there is Brent Burns. The 33-year-old defenseman won the Norris Trophy two years ago and had 76 points that year and 75 the year before. He still led the team in points and assists last year, but his goal total fell from 29 to 12, his shooting percentage fell off the edge of a cliff, and his plus/minus - admittedly far from a perfect stat - went from great to ugly. It could have just been an off year and the Norris-caliber Burns could be back this year. But it could also be the beginning of the end - and inevitable dulling of his skills as he ages and passes 1,000 NHL games. Obviously one of those would be much better than the other, and Burns is a big part of what makes this team work. Those three risks define whether this team hits their fairly high floor or achieves their fairly high ceiling.
San Jose Sharks Schedule
Things get tough early, with games against two rivals - Anaheim at home and the Kings on the road - to start the year. Those two teams are fighting for the same ground that San Jose is, so those games are huge out of the gate. The latter is the first of a five-game road trip that goes from there all the way out east. It's a harsh start to a very important season.
San Jose Sharks NHL Futures Odds
The Sharks are the ninth choice to win the Stanley Cup at Bovada at +1600. That makes them the fourth choice in the West. The season win total sits at 97.5, which basically represents holding serve after the 100-point season last year. It took 95 points to make the playoffs last year, and more than that is possible this year. Couture is a long shot at +6600 to win the Hart Trophy as MVP, and Joe Pavelski is even longer at +10000.
2017-18 San Jose Sharks Predictions
I mostly like the team and the way they are handling things. But the potential risks and the toughness of the West make the futures price feel optimistic. I don't see a playable number here, though I do agree with what the futures are saying in one sense - this is more likely than not to be a playoff team.
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