After last season ended bitterly for the San Jose Sharks (losing their first-round series to the eighth-seeded Anaheim Ducks) three pressing issues were evident on Team Teal's roster.
1) They lacked a pure go-to goal scorer.
2) They were missing "sand paper" role players.
3) They were in need of better secondary scoring.
Fortunately for Sharks fans, General Manager Doug Wilson fixed two of those holes over the offseason.
Never afraid to make the big splash, Wilson acquired All-Star winger Dany Heatley in mid-September from the Ottawa Senators along with a fifth-round draft choice in exchange for forwards Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo, and a second-round draft choice.
Heatley has gone on to have a tremendous season with San Jose, notching 39 goals and 82 points. Meanwhile, Michalek and Cheechoo have combined for just 48 points between them in Ottawa.
With the "Heater's" presence added to the club, the Sharks finally have that go-to goal scorer they were clearly lacking.
However, even though a popular phrase in the NHL states that a "team's best players have to be their best players when it matters most," every Cup-winning team also has third/fourth line players who perform superbly in checking roles.
Over this past offseason, Wilson knew this was yet another area in which he needed to improve the squad.
During the beginning of free agency, Wilson signed veterans Scott Nichol and Jed Ortmeyer to one-year deals and later on he signed another veteran in Manny Malhotra after inviting him to Training Camp for a tryout.
So far this season, these three signings have proven to be smart moves. Each one of them is having a career year in points as well as contributing high energy every shift.
Not to mention, they are all detail-oriented players who do the little things to help their team win games.
Both Malhotra and Nichol are dominant in the faceoff circle, and Ortmeyer has been an effective forechecker, constantly causing havoc for opposing defenders.
The additions of these three forwards has filled the sandpaper roles Wilson was looking for as each of them are willing to get down and dirty, as well as scrap when necessary.
So there you have it: two holes filled before the season even began.
But what about that secondary scoring? Well, Wilson's impressive draft history has paid off again with the rise of rookie Logan Couture.
The first-round draft choice (ninth overall) from 2007 was an AHL All-Star this season and has recently locked down a spot on the Sharks playoff roster with impressive all-around play since being called up from the minors.
It's safe to say, the third hole from last season has been filled with Couture's call up to the "show."
By addressing each of their glaring needs from last season, this year's squad is even more dangerous than year's past.
They now have a better chance for a deep playoff run than any previous team in franchise history.
Now without further ado, here are five in-depth reasons why the Sharks are set for their best crack at a Stanley Cup victory.