Two weeks into the 2013-14 NHL season it appears that the Sharks have built upon their late season and playoff success from last spring.
Projecting veteran team fortunes is fairly simple. One can review career trends and past results. Using this information you can predict the ultimate success of that team. But when important veterans get up in age, their skills can quickly erode. If enough vets performances decline, it may be time to break up that squad and build for the future. Those teams often try to move quality players and stockpile prospects and draft picks. The history of NHL has many examples of teams in a constant rebuild mode. If scouts and general managers don’t have vision and a philosophy that works, teams can wallow in failure for years and even decades.
Teams that catapult into elite status are often driven by youth. Players who have been in the league for 10+ years are often there due to their consistency. That is a huge portion of their value to the team. Young players are a work in progress. Their job is to contribute, learn and get better. Some players succeed, but many more fail. Through the years many high draft picks with great potential fail. Other undrafted, poorly regarded players work at their craft, take advantages of opportunity learn from experience to become great NHLers. When a large portion of a club boasts young, talented players they can skyrocket into a Cup contender.
The Sharks are one of those teams. Sharks’ GM Doug Wilson along with his scouting staff and a solid coaching staff has provided San Jose fans with a competitive and entertaining team. San Jose has not needed to ‘rebuild’. Wilson has coined the saying that his job is to ‘reset and refresh’. In the past few season we’ve seen the emergence of Logan Couture. A first-rounder who has bloomed into one of the best players in the league. Young defensemen such as Marc-Edourd Vlasic, Justin Braun and Matt Irwin have worked on their games and have become reliable and trusted blue-liners. This season has debuted a pair of young exciting forwards, Tomas Hertl and Matt Nieto. Their speed, energy and skill has been in large supply and are a big part of the Sharks early success. Young veterans like Andrew Desjardin, James Sheppard and Tommy Wingels are showing better consistency and the coaching staff has come to ‘trust’ them, especially in important moments in a game.
Looking over the San Jose roster shows a great mix of young prospects, youthful veterans and star players. This is a balanced team. With the likes of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelsk, the younger players have mentors both on and off the ice. It’s early in the season. Anti Niemi has played brilliant in net. It’s great that the Sharks sit at 6-0-1. Early indications are there that this could be a very special season for a much-loved team from Northern California. Enjoy the games!