FanPost

Full Season Sharks Analysis With Playoff Implications

Sharks Acquisitions:

Ok, Doug Wilson has been busier than ever this offseason and season with transactions as listed below: It’s obvious he feels time is running out for the Sharks to win a Cup.

At the trade deadline, Sharks pushed hard for James Van Riemsdyk who refused to leave.

The Rick Nash sweepstakes was a big potential for San Jose but Doug Wilson would not trade away young star Logan Couture.

Players lost:

- Ben Eager, Kent Huskins, Jamal Mayers, Mike Moore, Scott Nichols, Devin Setoguchi, Niclas Wallin, Ian White, Kyle Wellwood, Dany Heatly

-Summer

- Signed free agent Jim Vandemeer

- Signed free agent Colin White

- Signed free agent Andrew Murray

- Traded Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle, and a First round pick for Brent Burns

- Traded Dany Heatly for Martin Havlat

- Signed free agent Michal Handzus

- Signed free agent James Sheppard

- Signed Brad Winchester from official tryouts

- In season

- Traded a draft pick for Dominic Moore

- Traded Jamie McGinn and two minor league players for Daniel Winnik and T.J. Galiardi

I like all the signings. The addition of the two defensemen, Vandemeer and White, adds depth to the lacking D line of the sharks. The over abundance of defensemen allows a rotation to be implemented which provides the 3rd line defensemen some rest throughout the season for a well rested 3rd line of defense when playoffs come along. These veteran signings provides a lot of experience and guidance to the Sharks. Handzus was a great pick up for his low price. Experienced and great on the penalty kill, he has also shown scoring abilities this season with the Sharks. Winchester is a gritty forward who adds more physicality to the team and a solid 4th liner. Andrew Murray is also a leadership experience depth player.

Brent Burns trade: Dislike. I felt the Sharks gave up too much for Burns. Yes, we brought in another superstar offensive defensemen to take the load off of Boyle. Yes it provides depth for the Defensive line. However, I think we should not have given away Charlie Coyle. I was fine with giving up Setoguchi and a first round pick, but the loss of Charlie Coyle is too much. He is the gem of the deal, and a future super star forward.

Martin Havlat trade: Like. Dany Heatly’s numbers have been decreasing with the San Jose Sharks and it was evident in the 2011 playoffs that he was slower than before. His game evolved into a slower, grinding game, and in this day and age of the NHL, speed kills. Speed is the most coveted asset in today’s game where it has evolved into such a fast paced game. Havlat is a superstar scorer too, maybe not at the caliber of Heatly, but still nonetheless All Star worthy. He provides a lot more speed and relieves $2.5 million in the salary cap. Only downside is he is currently injured.

Dominic Moore trade: Love. Moore proved last postseason that he can score when the time comes. He is a solid 3rd line piece that provides a lot of depth that is essential if the Sharks want to win the Cup. Given that we gave up almost nothing, this is a huge plus.

Daniel Winnik and T.J. Galiardi trade: Slightly like. I loved McGinn especially the way he has played this season. He can score, drive to the net, and is physical and gritty. Losing him loses some grit and toughness which the Sharks in general lack. However, the addition of Daniel Winnik solidifies the penalty kill which has been horrendous for the Sharks this season and is a much more urgent need that must be taken care of over physicality. T.J. Galiardi can be a gem or a bust. He’s had a career low with the Avalanche this season, but a change of scenery and with the coaching abilities of Todd McClellan, he can blossom into a solid 4th liner.

Sharks Injuries:

The biggest issue with the San Jose Sharks this season has been injuries. Goaltender Antero Nittymaki has not played a single game, recovering from surgery. James Sheppard has not even played a minor league game, also recovering from surgery. Martin Havlat has been out for weeks from a line change freak accident. Douglas Murray breaks his Adam’s Apple of all body parts. Dominic Moore plays 3 games with the Sharks after being traded and suffers a lower body injury. Jason Demers just returned from injury when Murray got injured. Of all things, OUR HEADCOACH got injured in the last game after taking a stick to the head and was almost carried out on a stretcher.

However, on the bright side, Murray's is returning much sooner than expected. Havlat, Murray and Moore are all expected to be back by the end of next week.

Playoff Lineups:

These are the lineups I believe will bring us the best chance for a Cup IF every player is healthy.

Forwards:

Pavelski – Thornton – Marleau

Havlat – Couture – Clowe

Winnik – Handzus – Moore

Desjardins/Wingels – Mitchell – Winchester

Bench: James Sheppard, Benn Ferriero, Galiardi

Defensemen:

Boyle – Murray

Burns – Vlasic

Demers – Braun

Bench: Vandermeer, White

Goaltending:

Niemi


Bench: Greiss, Nittymaki in that order.

Rationale:

Offense:

Thornton lined up on both sides with 25+ goal scorers will be deadly. Marleau provides the speed while Pavelski provides the hockey sense that Thornton can work with as a play maker. Power play is deadly. Enough said. Pavelski can score in the playoffs and come up clutch in the first two rounds. The past 2 playoff seasons, Marleau has been the only forward to score consistently in the Conference Finals.

Couture is a goal scorer and a great 3 zone player, with the grit of the power forward of Clowe who can score, and is one of the best down low along the boards protecting the puck in a cycle. Havlat provides the speed this line needs. He also has the playmaking ability to increase Clowe’s scoring production and maintain Couture’s frenzied scoring streak.

The biggest improvement from years past is the Sharks 3rd line. With the veteran presence of Handzus and Moore, there will be a lot more experience. Handzus can prove to be an offensive threat and is solid defensively and is essential for the penalty kill. Moore is a clutch scorer in the playoffs, providing three lines of offensive depth. Winnik provides the speed for this line and is ESSENTIAL to the sharks floundering penalty kill.

The fourth line is the most interchangeable line. With an overload of players, this line all depends on the opponent of the San Joe Sharks. If the Sharks play against a fast, young team, I would put up Ferriero-Mitchell-Wingels. Mitchell is very fast and works the penalty kill and has proved he can score some really pretty goals. Wingels is a big body with speed that can attack the net. Ferriero is a smaller body but still with speed that can score occasionally.

If the opponent is a physical, slow grind kind of team, we have the tools to combat that as well. I would suggest, Vandermeer- Desjardins-Winchester. Jim Vandermeer is interchangeable at the forward position and a big body that can provide grit and play a smart defensive game, something the Sharks have not seen since the 2006-2007 season where Rob Davison played this role. He can be the “3rd” defensemen on the ice on a penalty kill. Desjardins has a nasty element of grit to his game, not afraid to hit hard and drop the gloves, but he also knows how to score. Winchester is all grit, willing to lay down big hits and punish the opponents. He has one rifle of a shot that could provide the occasional goal. They can provide energy and eat up minutes.

Defense:

Boyle and Murray will be the solid 1-2 punch-shutdown combo of the Sharks. Eating up big minutes and shutting down top lines. Murray will provide the defensive minded aspect and the physicality while Boyle will provide the offensive mind and quarterback the power play. Boyle is sound defensively as well and Murray is not afraid to shoot.

Vlasic and Burns will be an equally solid combination. Vlasic is arguably the best defensive defensemen in the Sharks lineup and Burns is another huge offensively minded defensemen. They can split the minutes and ease the pressure on Boyle and Murray. Vlasic has developed offensively this season, and Burns can play solid defense.

Demers and Braun. The two young guns/rookies. Demers entered the league as a bright star as an offensive defensemen, running the power play and scoring goals. Braun entered the league as a solid defensive defenseman. They both have evolved into two way players. Demers’ defensive game has been solid, especially last year’s playoffs in the series against Detroit. He shut down top players like Zetterberg and Datsyuk. Braun has improved offensively as well, piling on more assists and jumping into the play more. Given how young they are, they can keep up the energy deep into the playoffs.

Goaltending:

The biggest question lies on goaltending. Currently, Niemi is playing pretty bad. If he can recover his composure of his Stanley Cup run with the Chicago Blackhawks and provide solid net play in the playoffs, the San Jose Sharks can go deep. Greiss has shown strong, solid play this season and gets the backup over Nittymaki. Antero Nittymaki has yet to play a NHL game this season and is still recovering from off season surgery. Although rehab is improving in Worcester, he is just too rusty to compete in the NHL during the playoffs.

Playoff Implications:

The west is tough. Very tough. With the overloaded Central Division taking the majority of the playoff spots, winning the Pacific Division is a must for the San Jose Sharks if they want to win a Stanley Cup. They must lock up the #3 seed or else they will end up as an 7th or 8th seed. Home ice means EVERYTHING in this year’s playoffs. St. Louis and Detroit are near unbeatable on home ice. Vancouver looks even more dangerous than last year and Nashville looks like they have all the pieces. If the Sharks want to win a Cup, they need the 3 seed and to let Nashville, St. Louis, Detroit and Vancouver beat each other up. They need to stay out of the spotlight while the power houses duke it out.

I believe the Sharks can make a run for the cup. They have the depth offensively and defensively. Pieces have been added to right the ship in the penalty kill department. The powerplay can be run by all 3 lines of the defense. Offensive threats on 3 forward lines competes with the other teams. Grit and toughness and size are all there. Everything rides on the goaltending. If Niemi can step it up like he’s proven that he is capable of, then the Sharks are right there in the mix with the other Western power houses.

This item was created by a member of this blog's community and is not necessarily endorsed by Fear The Fin.

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