The season is just around the corner (never really understood that phrasing, as time is linear and all), and we thought it would be great to give you a quick rundown on the roster, with a little blurb on each player. If you feel like we've covered this before, well, we have. But we're going to expand on it a little, include the stories that we've written on the players over the past year and give our input on what we expect next season. We don't know exactly how the lines will shake out yet, but here's what WTC gave us for Sunday's game against Phoenix.
Final cuts on Tuesday. God save us all.
#15 / Left Wing / San Jose Sharks
Jan 21, 1981
Previous FTF Coverage: Heatley finds a Home (Mr. Plank), Doug Wilson does it again; Dany Heatley is a Shark (TCY), The Morning After (Mr. Plank), Heatley Gate (One, Two) (Mr. Plank/TCY), Tick Tock (Mr. Plank), Is Dany Heatley worth the Headache? (TCY)
2008-2009 Stats (Ottawa Senators)
Our two cents:
Dany Heatley is a Shark? You would have thought that this would have gotten a little more media attention!
Truth is, we've beaten this trade to a soft, gooey pulp over the last few weeks. To save you the trauma of experiencing that again, we'll sum up. Heatley is one of the elite few pure goal scorers in the NHL. He's been dangerous his entire career, even without the help of an elite center. Now, with Joe Thornton lining up to his right, fans and media members alike are salivating over the possibility of a 50+ goal season.
Health is going to be a factor, but Dany Heatley has much to prove to himself and the NHL community. We're expecting good things from Heatley, and his addition could be viewed as one of the biggest (if not the biggest) moves the Sharks have ever made. Until we see anything different, we're going to assume that the locker room issues died in Ottawa. He's a bonafide star, and San Jose is a forgiving town. It's about his play, from here on out.
#19 / Center / San Jose Sharks
Jul 02, 1979
Our two cents:
San Jose's leading scorer was also one of only two Sharks to play all 82 games last year (Vlasic, being the other). He's also one of the most criticized by the fans and the media; he's accused of being soft, not shooting enough, not showing up in the playoffs, etc.
Thornton isn't your prototypical superstar, because he's usually one of the most least vocal players on the ice. That may be starting to change, though, if last years elimination game against Anaheim is any indication. Even though the Sharks lost the series, Joe started to show a fire that hadn't been seen much of the year. He dropped the gloves on the opening face-off, something very uncharacteristic of him.
However the catalyst for that change (Jeremy Roenick, now retired), is no longer with the team. Will Thornton continue to show the same fire?
Regardless, scoring points has never been his problem, especially in the regular season. He'll definitely be able to put up the numbers in 2009-2010, as he'll have the best scorer he's ever played with in Dany Heatley at his disposal. On his right, he'll have emerging star Devin Setoguchi. An improvement on the 86 points he scored last year is definitely possible, and many believe he'll flirt with the 100 point plateau. There is one thing working against him; if you read anything into the preseason so far, Joe looks to be getting some shorthanded minutes once the season starts. Will that limit his effectiveness even strength and on the power play?
The big question is, which Joe will show? Joe the clown, who's all skill, that makes his teammates laugh and makes fans happy but has trouble when the spotlight shines to bright? Or the mean Joe, who's emotions make him a grittier, more physical opponent?
If Thornton can find a balance between the two extremes, he'll silence many of his critics.
#16 / Right Wing / San Jose Sharks
Jan 01, 1987
Previous FTF Coverage: Sharktistical Analysis: The Amazing Setoguchi (TCY), Sharktistical Analysis: Vote Setoguchi (TCY)
Our two cents:
In a regular season where so many things went right, the emergence of Devin Setoguchi was often forgotten. However, Devin's maturation into a top line wing is one of the most surprising turns from the 2008-2009 season.
If Setoguchi continues to improve, he could help make San Jose's top line one of the most offensively potent in the league. However, he's not too keen on defending, and that's not great news considering who he's paired with. He's going to get plenty of chances to score in the upcoming season, and McLellan's creative system fits Devin's style of play well. He's lightning fast, is quick in transition, is creative in the zone, and has a quick shot.
He wont get as many looks as he did last year with Marleau on the opposite wing, as Heatley is going to be Thornton's primary target. However, Heatley's no slouch when it comes to setting up teammates, so Setoguchi should get plenty of opportunities to continue his path to the top of the NHL. At 21 last year, he could have easily been an all-star selection (he was included in the young stars game, where he scored). If he puts up another year of solid numbers, he won't be on the sidelines of the big game for long.