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30 in 30: Sharks Have Lineup Hole Without Havlat

Tuesday, 08.6.2013 / 9:39 AM PT / News
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30 in 30: Sharks Have Lineup Hole Without Havlat

For many NHL teams, sweeping a division winner in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and taking the defending champion to a seventh game in the second round would be an unquestioned accomplishment. For the San Jose Sharks, who have been searching for an elusive trip the Stanley Cup Final, it was another season with a successful regular season but a too-early postseason exit.

The Sharks have reached the conference final three times in the past nine seasons; only the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers can make that claim. But each of those teams has reached the Cup Final, and all except the Flyers have won a championship.

San Jose was not far off in 2012-13, pushing the Los Angeles Kings to the limit. Given the collective health of the two clubs, the Sharks may have given the Blackhawks a tougher challenge in the next round. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson did not have a particularly busy summer beyond locking up core forwards Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski to long-term contracts.

Tyler Kennedy arrived in a draft-day trade from Pittsburgh, and TJ Galliardi was shipped to the Calgary Flames a few days later. Backup goaltender Thomas Greiss signed with the Phoenix Coyotes, but Alex Stalock might be ready for a full-time opportunity at this level.

Offseason surgery could leave Martin Havlat unavailable at the start of the regular season, and it is possible a top-six forward could be atop Wilson's in-season wish list if Havlat cannot return.

Here is the projected 2013-14 lineup for the Sharks:

Forwards

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels

Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns

Raffi Torres - Joe Pavelski - Tyler Kennedy

James Sheppard - Andrew Desjardins - Adam Burish

Bracken Kearns

Defensemen

Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Scott Hannan - Brad Stuart

Jason Demers

Goalies

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

NOTES: The Sharks could play Pavelski on one of the top two lines, and almost certainly will at times, especially if Hertl or Wingels isn't able to handle that type of role. Kennedy saw time in Pittsburgh's top six when others were injured and could be an option.

After moving Burns to forward and trading Douglas Murray, the Sharks' defense parings were settled and meshed quite well at the end of the season and in the playoffs. Niemi quietly had a great season and will be looking at 65-plus starts again (his career high was 68 two seasons ago).

2013-14 FANTASY PREVIEW: SHARKS

Antti Niemi - An argument could certainly be made that Niemi was the most valuable fantasy goalie last season, posting career-bests in GAA (2.16) and SV% (.924%). His playoffs were even more spectacular (1.87 GAA, .930%), leading us to believe he's a top-five goalie next season -- with ease.

Patrick Marleau - Was one of the hottest players in the NHL early on last season, but cooled considerably and ended up averaging .65 points-per-game (his lowest since 2007-08). Is age finally catching up to Marleau? We think so. Draft in the sixth round or later -- anything earlier is a mistake.

Brent Burns - The former defenseman should be a mainstay among San Jose's top-six forward group, and that could mean big things for Burns. As a forward, he finished last season strong with nine goals and 11 assists in his final 24 games playing mostly with Joe Thornton. Expect more of the same next season.

Author: Corey Masisak | NHL.com Staff Writer

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 82 37 33 12 70
L. Couture 82 27 40 -6 67
J. Thornton 78 16 49 -4 65
B. Burns 82 17 43 -9 60
P. Marleau 82 19 38 -17 57
T. Wingels 75 15 21 -7 36
T. Hertl 82 13 18 -5 31
M. Nieto 72 10 17 -12 27
M. Karlsson 53 13 11 -3 24
M. Vlasic 70 9 14 12 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 31 23 7 .914 2.59
A. Stalock 8 9 2 .902 2.62
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