With the 2016 NHL season just ... 94 days away ... we’re taking a look at how the San Jose Sharks are likely to line up to open the campaign. Today we’re looking at the forwards.
On one hand, the Tomas Hertl, Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton line was one of the best in hockey last season. When on the ice, the trio posted a fenwick-for percentage of 58.16 percent which was the fourth-best in the NHL (min. 250 minutes). So yeah, that’s pretty good.
Oh right, the other hand. So the other hand is that I really want Hertl to center the third line which means Timo Meier kinda has to make the team for this whole thing to work. Hang in there, I promise this will all make sense in the end. Anyway, assuming Meier makes the team, this is the group I’m going with:
Timo Meier - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
This is one line that doesn’t need any tweaking. In the (relatively brief) time Logan Couture, Joonas Donskoi and Joel Ward played together they were quite successful. They posted a FF% of 55.45 and looked absolutely phenomenal when on the ice together.
Even if the Sharks make changes to every other line (and I think they will), this is one group that should stick together. Let’s go:
Joel Ward - Logan Couture - Joonas Donskoi
Here’s where the addition of Mikkel Boedker will come in handy. Since I’ve moved Hertl to the third line with Patrick Marleau (it’s happening, okay?) and I think Boedker will slot in quite nicely here. Hertl has proven himself as a center in the past and with two speedy wingers that can score I think the Sharks will be one of the deeper teams in the NHL this upcoming season.
Patrick Marleau - Tomas Hertl - Mikkel Boedker
Welcome to the leftovers! In all seriousness, I like the options the Sharks have on the fourth line this season. With Nick Spaling and Mike Brown long gone, San Jose can give Chris Tierney a center job he can actually handle with linemates that might help him out!
Assuming Matt Nieto and the Sharks figure out his contract (they will) I like him on this line with Melker Karlsson, another proven possession player. This, as I wrote earlier, leaves Tommy Wingels as the odd Shark out.
With these four lines I think the Sharks will have one of their deepest teams during this window. As long as Meier makes San Jose out of training camp, the Sharks are in business. If not ... well, he will. Okay?