Predicting the Statistical Leaders for the San Jose Sharks in 2014-15
The Sharks have changed captains and made some new additions to their roster, but will it be enough? Here is a list of the players who are expected to lead Team Teal in various statistical categories this season.
This article will discuss the likely leader in goals, assists, points, plus/minus and penalty minutes plus a few other serious contenders to lead the Sharks in each of those categories.
Obviously, these predictions are subject to change due to injuries, trades and other circumstances.
Feel free to comment on any of these projected leaders and indicate who you feel will lead San Jose in that category. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.
Joe Pavelski scored a career-high 41 goals last season to lead the Sharks. While he may not match that number in 2014-15, Pavelski is likely to lead Team Teal in goals again this year.
The key to Pavelski's goal-scoring prowess is his success on the power play. Last season, he led all Sharks players with 16 goals and 31 points while the team had an extra skater.
Other contenders for the team lead in goals this season include Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl.
Marleau has scored at least 30 goals in a season seven times and is always at or near the team's leaders in tallies.
Couture had back-to-back seasons with more than 30 goals in 2010-11 and 2011-12 before falling back to the 20s the past two seasons. If he regains his previous touch, he could contend for the team lead again.
Second-year player Hertl had 15 goals in 37 games during a rookie season that was cut short by injury. If he stays healthy and continues to progress, he may also be in the mix to lead the team in goals.
Joe Thornton may be 35 now and have been stripped of his captaincy, but he is still one of the best passers in the game of hockey.
Thornton may no longer be the captain, but he will still be a top-six forward and see plenty of ice time on the power play. That means he should accumulate a lot of assists.
Other contenders include Patrick Marleau, who has been a consistent offensive producer for the Sharks for more than a decade, and Joe Pavelski, who finished second on the team in assists last year—both overall and on the power play.
The Sharks' race for points leader should be a very competitive one this season.
The lead contenders have to include projected goals leader Joe Pavelski, projected assists leader Joe Thornton and Logan Couture, who should be near the top of both categories.
But Patrick Marleau should be the favorite to win the points race this year. The veteran forward already leads the Sharks in career goals, points and power-play goals.
Marleau finished second on the team last season in goals scored and third in assists. He may not lead the Sharks in either of those categories this year, but he has been the team's most consistent offensive threat and should continue to receive top-six minutes this year and plenty of power-play time.
Marleau may be a little bit past his prime, but he's still a dangerous weapon for the Sharks and the favorite to lead Team Teal in points.
Plus/minus is always a tricky statistic. A lot of it depends on team success rather than individual performance. Still, it remains an important benchmark, and leading the team in this category is important.
The leading contender for top plus/minus will once again be Marc-Edouard Vlasic. He is the team's best all-around defenseman. He will play a lot of minutes without putting up big offensive numbers. Last season, Vlasic scored just five goals and 24 points but led the team with a plus-31 rating in 81 games. The fact that Vlasic doesn't see a lot of power-play time helps his chances on plus/minus.
Other contenders for the Sharks plus/minus leader include Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns and Joe Thornton. Burns may be a top contender as he returns to the blue line after playing forward last season.
The Sharks have not been known as one of the league's top fighting teams, but general manager Doug Wilson added size and toughness when he signed enforcer John Scott this summer.
Scott may not play every game, but the 6'8", 260-pound native of St. Catherines, Ontario, can accumulate a lot of penalty minutes without being on the ice very long.
Last season, Scott had 125 penalty minutes in just 56 games. He averaged just 6:45 of ice time.
Andrew Desjardins led the Sharks in penalty minutes last season with 86. He will contend for the team lead if he plays enough games. Scott's presence may change Desjardins' role and/or ice time.
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