Starting a new blog. I'll be looking at each NHL team's fortunes, both at the moment and in the future. I've got the teams ranked in order of their overall youth and potential, and I'll be putting them out from worst to best. This is something new, so please work with me here; I'm not a professional writer and I'm a raw rookie when it comes to writing these types of articles.
Feel free to leave comments; I'm always willing to take feedback and I readily accept that I'm not the next Charles Dickens, so any constructive criticism would be great.
Current Rankings List:
30. San Jose
#30: San Jose Sharks
Top Fws: Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture
Top Ds: Dan Boyle, Brent Burns
Top G: Antti Niemi
Top 3 Under-23s:
1. F Logan Couture (23)
Top 5 Prospects
1. F Tomas Hertl (18)
2. D Taylor Doherty (21)
3. F Matt Nieto (19)
4. F Freddie Hamilton (20)
5. G Alex Stalock (24)
Prospect Pool Rating:
Bluechip Talent: D
The Sharks boast top talent at every position at the NHL level. Joe Thornton remains one of the best centers in the game, Joe Pavelski combines defensive jazz with offensive spark, and talented scoring forwards like Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau and Martin Havlat round out the top 6. On defense, Dan Boyle continues to be the PP quarterback while Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are solid contributors in the top 4.
There isn’t a lot of depth at any position. Beyond the top two lines and top two defensive pairings, the Sharks are underwhelming. They also lack young NHL talent on their roster; beyond Logan Couture, a large portion of their best players have already hit the wrong side of 30 and with little in the way of NHL caliber talent waiting in the wings, it’s unlikely they’ll be getting any help from their prospect pool in the near future.
Primarily, their strengths lie on the backend and in net. While none of their netminding prospects are bluechippers, they have depth at the position with Alex Stalock, Harri Sateri and JP Anderson waiting in the wings. They also have a defensive pool that is not lacking in big physical defenders with Taylor Doherty, Nick Petrecki, William Wrenn and Konrad Abeltshauser chief among them.
The biggest weakness is a lack of a high-quality prospect to look forward to. They have no game-breaking talent at any position including their areas of strength. Up front, the Sharks really lack any players with offensive potential beyond Freddie Hamilton, Matt Nieto and the newly drafted Tomas Hertl. Their best prospects on defense only project to be role players, if that, at the NHL level.
The Sharks have been one of the NHL’s best teams for the past few years, but last year’s struggles may serve as a telling sign of things to come. In an effort to find that top player that would put the team over the hump and towards a Cup Championship, the Sharks have traded away countless first round picks and prospects. This lack of high-caliber young talent has started to become an issue as the Sharks have been forced to rely on their top two lines almost exclusively.
The Sharks still have time, however, to make a push towards a Stanley Cup. They have two fantastic scoring lines, two solid defensive pairings and a goaltender who has won it all before. Their biggest weakness, a lack of speed and scoring in their bottom 6, can be remedied by the group of talent already in their system. But Joe Thornton is 33, Dan Boyle is 35, Patrick Marleau is 32 and Martin Havlat is 31, so the Sharks do not have a massive window for their Cup contending hopes.
They’ll likely be competing for a playoff spot again next season, however the franchise’s long term fortunes are still up in the air at this point.