NHL: 7 Predictions for the San Jose Sharks and Their Players

Michael DeSantisSenior Analyst INovember 12, 2011

NHL: 7 Predictions for the San Jose Sharks and Their Players

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    Hey guys, I know the season started already, but it's not too far in yet. That means there's still some time for some predictions about the team, and some of the players themselves.

    After a shaky start, the San Jose Sharks are back on track, currently second in the division, and fourth in the Western Conference. They own a 9-4-1 record after going 1-3-0 to start the season.

    Some of these predictions may be very bold, some a little bold and some not bold at all.

1. The Sharks Will Have 2 40-Goal Scorers

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    Sometimes it's a treat for a team to have one 40-goal scorer. I believe the Sharks will have two this year.

    I think one of them will be Patrick Marleau. Patty has reached the 40-goal plateau once in his career with 44 a couple of seasons ago.

    He's reached 38 and 37 before. The thing with Marleau is sometimes he's inconsistent. He easily could've been a 40-goal guy last year, but he was plagued with a baker's dozen or so goal drought. He could've had way more than 37 last year.

    So far, through 14 games, he has six. Not bad, but if he gets hot, six may very well become 10 in a week's time. I'm sure Marleau will get hot, and go on to score 40 goals this season. as

    He'll be on the power play often, and will have great linemates. Whether his mates are Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, or Martin Havlat and Ryane Clowe, Patty's in good shape.

    The other may be a surprise to those who don't closely follow the Sharks, but Joe Pavelski has a great shot at scoring 40 goals this year.

    Despite never reaching 30 goals, Pavelski's been amazing for the Sharks this year. So far, he has nine goals and has been playing great with Joe Thornton and Logan Couture.

    If Pavelski keeps up the pace, and keeps using his hockey smarts and ability, he should be able to light the lamp 40 times.

2. Logan Couture Will Score 30 Goals Again

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    Last season, Logan Couture impressed everybody in his rookie season, tallying 32 goals. No need to worry, he'll repeat the feat in his sophomore season.

    Couture has already proven the sophomore curse to mean nothing to him, as he has six goals and five assists so far.

    He's on a great pace to reach 30 goals.

    Although he and Marleau both have six goals so far, Couture probably won't reach 40 goals yet.

    I could be wrong, though, and I hope I am.

3. Sharks Will Be the Top Seed in the West

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    Currently, the Sharks are fourth place in the Western Conference with 19 points.

    Chicago leads with 23 points, but here's the thing. The Sharks have played three less games than the Hawks.

    In fact, the Sharks have played less games than every team ahead of them in the Conference.

    Not that it means much this early in the season, but hey, every point matters.

    After the slow start, the Sharks are their old selves, winning, winning and winning.

    If they stay hot, and play as we've seen them play the past few seasons, the Sharks should be able to capture the top seed in the Western Conference by the time the playoffs roll around.

4. Antti Niemi Will Win 40 Games This Season

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    Playing 60 games last year, Antti Niemi won 35 games.

    At this pace, with Todd McLellan overplaying him again so far, Niemi will once again play around 60-65 games.

    So far, he has six wins on the season, but as the Sharks are hot, he should start racking up the victories.

    Despite not having great numbers so far (.903 Sv. percentage and 2.74 GAA), Niemi will start to play better and earn 40 wins.

    He'll earn 40 wins for the Sharks since Evgeni Nabokov did it three times in a row a couple of seasons back.

    On a team like the Sharks, Niemi shouldn't have too much trouble reaching the plateau.

5. The Sharks Will Have 8 50-Point Scorers

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    Let me name a few obvious guys first...Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. There.

    Ryane Clowe will earn 50 points, as he has 12 so far already. This isn't much of a surprise though, as he's scored 50 points three times in his career so far. Playing will skilled players, and being a pretty skilled guy himself, Clowe will score plenty of goals and get a lot of assists.

    Last season, Logan Couture scored 56 points in his rookie season, 32 of them being goals. As mentioned before, Couture has already shaken the sophomore slump label from him, as he has six goals and five assists so far totaling 11 points. He'll definitely reach 50 again.

    In the offseason, the Sharks acquired Martin Havlat from the Minnesota Wild. And even after missing four games so far, Havlat has eight points, including seven assists. If Havlat continues his slightly off points per game streak, he should be able to score 50 points. He'll have the likes of Marleau, Clowe and Couture helping him rack of assists. And despite having one goal so far, Havlat's not bad at lighting the lamp.

    The other addition from the Wild, Brent Burns, is off to a "slow" start for him, scoring three goals and three assists so far.  He's never reached the 50-point plateau, but that was with an anemic Wild offense. Once he gets used to the San Jose system, he'll have some great players to help him rack up assists. Burns is also a great shooter and will tickle the twine about 15 times or so.

    Last but not least, Dan Boyle. Boyle has reached 50 points five times in his career, so it's not much of a prediction to say he'll do it again this year. Even though he's declining and not scoring as many goals, he still has a goal and nine assists. Obviously, with a talented Sharks team, and a lot of power-play time, the points will still come to Danny Boyle.

6. Dan Boyle and Brent Burns Will Finish in the Top 10 in Defensive Scoring

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    As I said in my last slide, I believe Boyle and Burns will be 50-point scorers.

    Which is about where the top 10 defensive scorers in the league are, in that general area.

    I personally think Boyle will be fine, as he has 10 points already, and should get well over 50.

    Burns, who hasn't scored 50 points in his career yet, has a great shot to do so with the Sharks.

    Despite scoring a career-high 17 goals, Burns still hasn't reached 50 points because of the weak Wild offense. But with the Sharks, plenty of assists will come, even though Burns only has three so far.

    Once he settles in with the Sharks' play style, Burns will tally a load of points, probably enough to get him a spot in the top 10 for defensemen in the NHL this season.

7. The Sharks Will Win the Western Conference Finals This Year

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    The Sharks have made it to the Western Conference Finals two years in a row, but have fell to the Blackhawks and Canucks, respectively.

    However, this is their year. They acquired Burns and Havlat for Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi. The Sharks may miss Setoguchi's clutch goals, but Heatley was invisible for the Sharks in the playoffs.

    Havlat will replace Setoguchi's ability to come through in the clutch, and Brent Burns gives the Sharks that need for another top two defenseman.

    Pavelski, Couture and Clowe are constantly improving, and the Sharks still have big guns like Thornton and Marleau in their prime.

    This is the year the Sharks should finally be able to overcome the WCF and reach the Stanley Cup.

    I think the Sharks could definitely win the Stanley Cup, but I don't want to jinx that. Either way, it should be a great year.