Last Season – The Sharks won 7 of their last 10 games to slip into the playoffs as the 7th seed, before falling to the St. Louis Blues in the first round. Their record was 43-29-10 for 96 points.
Ready to Step In – Tommy Wingels is a versatile forward who can play all three front line positions. He has 38 games of NHL experience over the past two seasons and should be a full time Shark this season.
Look For A Bounce-back Season From -Martin Havlat needs to stay healthy and play more than half of his team’s games. He can be a dynamic offensive presence, and the Sharks need his scoring ability on the wing.
Hardware Hopefuls – none
Upside – Both 33, Thornton and Marleau aren’t quite “aged” yet, while the likes of Couture and Wingels and Pavelski are in their prime or just entering it. San Jose could be set for an excellent year offensively.
Downside – The Sharks and their window of opportunity is beginning to close, as everyone around them is closing the gap.
2013 Prognosis – The Sharks spent a few years being an elite team with high expectations that they could never deliver on. Now, perhaps those expectations have tempered a little bit, and while they are still a playoff caliber team, perhaps not elite. This could be just the situation that Joe Thornton and Co. are waiting for. Off the radar, out of sight out of mind, then make the run in the playoffs that shocks everyone. I am not saying it will happen, but it could.