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Logan Couture is a key forward for the Sharks.
Left Wing: Center: Right Wing:
Tomas Hertl Joe Thornton Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau Logan Couture Tyler Kennedy
Matt Nieto Joe Pavelski Tommy Wingels
Andrew Desjardins Freddie Hamilton James Sheppard
Injuries to Raffi Torres, Martin Havlat and Adam Burish opened up spots for young players like Hamilton, Nieto and Hertl. Hertl probably would have stuck anyway. Look for the other two to go back to Worcester when the players they are replacing return to health.
Hertl will start the season on the top line, which can only help his confidence. The Sharks will miss the aggressiveness and grit Torres adds.
If the converted defenseman Burns uses his size well, the Sharks would add one heck of a scoring weapon.
Left Defense: Right Defense:
Matt Irwin Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic Justin Braun
Scott Hannan Brad Stuart
San Jose has a deep and talented defense. Boyle remains a talented puck-moving defenseman who excels on the power play.
Vlasic is rapidly becoming a very good shutdown defenseman, while Hannan and Stuart add experience and can move up to the top four without much drop-off in performance.
Starter: Antti Niemi
Backup: Alex Stalock
Niemi is in his prime, and the Sharks need him to replicate last year's excellent performance when he was a Vezina Trophy finalist. Expect him to play 65-70 games this year.
Stalock beat out Harri Sateri for the backup spot in training camp. Don't be surprised if the two rotate between being NHL backups and AHL starters so they both get a little playing time.
If something happens to Niemi, the Sharks go from contenders to pretenders in a hurry.