Over the years the Sharks have been the best in the league at one thing: choking when they had everything in their favor.
Year after year they have gone into the playoffs with a strong team built to win, and year after year they have gone home too soon.
Last year they had a bit of a breakthrough, making the conference finals, but they still weren’t quite good enough to get past Chicago. They need to take the next step, and this year is as good a time as any, as they aren’t getting any younger.
San Jose Sharks Offseason Moves
I hate the offseason the Sharks had. Teams of their caliber should be looking to tweak and add the pieces to get over the hump.
The Sharks did far more subtracting than adding. Veteran defenseman Rob Blake is gone. So is the very underrated Manny Malhotra. Goalie Evgeni Nabokov was let go and replaced by two cheaper options, Antero Niittymaki and Antti Niemi.
Beyond that, this team has basically the same core—a group of players that weren’t quite good enough last year.
They tried hard to fix some problems by pursuing big-name players like Ilya Kovalchuk, Willie Mitchell and Niklas Hjalmarsson, but they didn’t land any of them. That leaves them with no one to directly replace Blake—a guy who ate up more than 21 minutes per game.
San Jose Sharks NHL Predictions: Outlook
Some people are optimistic about this team. ESPN picked them to win the Cup. I don’t share that outlook at all.
Offensively they are built around Thornton, Heatley and Marleau. That’s a talented group, but they didn’t exactly rise to the occasion in the playoffs, and that wasn’t really a surprise.
They don’t play with nearly as much heart as I would like them to. Combine that with a defensive unit that isn’t as good as the top ones in the conference and a step back in goal, the two guys they picked up are good, but Nabokov had the ability to be great. It’s hard for me to imagine this team taking a step forward.
San Jose Sharks NHL Odds
The Sharks are 14/1 to win the Cup. Only Chicago has lower odds to win the conference than the Sharks, at 5/1. San Jose has been installed as the even money favorites to win the Pacific Division.
I really hope that the Sharks and the Coyotes are locked in a tight battle for playoff position late in the season. I don’t think they will be, but if they did then the schedule couldn’t be more interesting. Three of the Sharks final seven games, including the last two, are against Phoenix.
The last eight games are all in the division, so the final days of the year could be very important and influential. The schedule is definitely back-loaded, their first eight games don’t feature a single divisional opponent.
San Jose Sharks Predictions and Betting Picks
I don’t think this team is going anywhere. They will obviously make the playoffs as they are still a very talented team. I just don’t think that they are as deep as the Kings and they don’t play with as much heart, so they will finish second in the division.
They could easily win a playoff series or two, but they won’t win the conference and that obviously means they won’t win the Cup, either.
Since I don’t see them winning anything, I obviously don’t see any betting value in the futures for the Sharks, either.