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When healthy, San Jose had one of the NHL's best top sixes last season. Superstar first-line center Joe Thornton was flanked by two 30-goal scorers who can also defend and win draws in Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski.
The second line featured young center Logan Couture—a three-zone force at age 23—as well as a speedy, creative wing in Martin Havlat and a big, strong, physical power forward in Ryane Clowe.
The problem was that when the top six was not completely healthy—which was the case for half the season—it was rather impotent.
This is because there is an enormous drop-off from San Jose's sixth-best forward (take your pick) to their seventh-best (Tommy Wingels, Michal Handzus, etc.).
For San Jose to have a dominant regular season, they need all six to remain healthy. Martin Havlat's injury last year highlighted this: The Sharks were 25-11-3 with him in the lineup, and 18-18-7 without him.
This is why they need another top-six forward. Injuries happen, and there's no reason to believe that Wingels or Andrew Desjardins or Adam Burish will be a viable top-six stand-in.
Not only would another top-six forward be a great insurance policy; they would upgrade San Jose's bottom-six.
The addition of a top-six winger would force either Ryane Clowe, Joe Pavelski, Martin Havlat or the new player to the third line, turning the third line from offensively impotent to offensively potent. In turn, this would force a third-liner—probably Andrew Desjardins or Michal Handzus—to the fourth line, thus upgrading that line.
San Jose's options are limited, but Shane Doan, Jason Arnott and even the enigmatic Alex Semin remain available. If the Sharks can't land a legitimate top-six guy, they would still do well to add a new seventh-best forward such as Marco Sturm or Andrei Kostitsyn.