The SB Nation NHL preview is due out today and as our part of the preview I’m answering three questions that face the San Jose Sharks this year. Let’s get after it!
Can the Sharks make a deep run after playing into June last year?
This is my biggest concern about the Sharks entering this season, particularly given the, uh, veteran nature of their core. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau aren’t getting any younger and even guys like Joe Pavelski will feature bumps and bruises from what was a very long season.
If the Sharks can stay healthy, this is a team that’s every bit as talented as the one that took them to their first Stanley Cup Final. That’s a big if, and managing the minutes of veterans will be even more important this season than it was last.
Will Martin Jones experience a sophomore slump?
In his first season as a starting goaltender Jones posted a very respectable .918 and then put together a great postseason. The Sharks need much of the same from him this season, particularly because the backup goalie situation hasn’t gotten any better entering this season.
While this is technically Jones’ fourth season in the league, the 65 games he played in last season far surpassed his NHL total up to that point. The jury is still out on Jones as an NHL goaltender, despite the heavy workload he put in last season. If he’s as good as last year, the Sharks are in business. If not... well, it won’t be so pretty.
Is this the last time we see Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton in teal?
Unless we see a contract extension for one or both of these guys during the season this is going to be looming over the team all year long. Thornton seems likely to return for at least one more year, while Marleau’s future with the team is far less certain.
While both are pillars of the franchise history, Marleau in particular holds the distinction of playing his entire career (so far) with the Sharks. How the franchise handles his future with the team, and potential retirement or free agency, will mean a lot to the fans and in the locker room.
A parade in June would make all of this much, much easier.