We’re 41 days away from the opening puck drop for the San Jose Sharks season in L.A. And we’re less than a month away from the first preseason game, which means hockey is coming up very soon. Yippie! New season, fresh start! Refresh! Oh, wait that sounds familiar.
Along with a reason for living, a new hockey season brings loads of predictions about the upcoming months, most of which are completely wrong and useless. So without further ado…here are the Great White’s guess-timations for the future of Sharks hockey.
Prediction 1: Joe Pavelski will be named the Sharks captain.
OK, so I’m kind of cheating on this one. This was my first prediction from last season, and we all know how that ended up. Vlasic gets the A, with Thornton and Marleau rotating the final one.
Prediction 2: The Sharks will finish 2nd in the Pacific Division.
OK, this one is the same prediction I had last year as well. But last season was no indication of the true talent of the team. There was a lot of internal strife between players and management, players and coach, coach and management–plus did I mention there wasn’t a captain?
The Sharks bounce back big time this year. Pavelski, Couture and Thornton will continue to lead the team in points. Marleau, Hertl and Nieto are primed for a big comeback year. Wingels will continue his forward trajectory from his breakout season last year, and we’ll see a lot of the young guys step up, especially Tierney, Goldobin and Goodrow.
Prediction 3: The Sharks’ defense will be improved, but still middle of the pack.
It’s hard not to be excited about getting another true stay-at-home defensemen in Paul Martin to pair up with Brent Burns on the back end. The more Burnzie is free to terrorize opposing defenses with his size and scoring ability, the better. Especially when Thornton is on the ice.
Yet even with Martin, that gives the Sharks two solid D-lines to work with, and that’s not going to be enough to launch them into the upper echelon of the best in the league.
Prediction 4: Martin Jones will win the starting job easily–and thrive in it.
I think this guy is going to be the real deal. He’s young, he’s agile, and he can help us beat the Kings. He won’t have the same stellar caliber of defense that he had in L.A. (see #3 above), but it will be good enough ahead of him where he’ll be successful.
Stalock on the other hand, will continue to regress (as much as I love the guy), and the Sharks will be looking at a rotation of him and Grosenik as backup.
Prediction 5: The Blue Jackets will be the scariest team no one is talking about.
They’re young. They’re tough. And they play well as a team. Ever since Jarmo Kekäläinen came in as General Manager, #Lumbus has done nothing but improve.
Bobrovski will also win the Vezina…again. Count on it.
Prediction 6: Buffalo will miss the playoffs again.
Yeah, they have Eichel and Evander Kane now, along with new coach Dan Bylsma. I think they’re sure to improve (how could they not), but they’ll still be on the outside looking in come April.
Prediction 7: Edmonton will make the playoffs, but fizzle out early.
McDavid. Hall. Nugent-Hopkins. Yakopov. This young core will make it tough for opposing teams. However, their D still isn’t as strong as a real contender needs it to be. They do have a pretty good coach now, though.
Prediction 8: The Sharks will make it to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.
But they won’t get there on skill alone. They’ll have some lucky match-ups (hello, Wild) and benefit from some timely injuries to tough opponents. Really, getting to the Cup is as much luck as it is skill, so why not the Sharks?
Prediction 9: The Sharks will not win the Cup.
It is the Sharks, after all. Maybe next year…
I can’t wait for October 7 against L.A. Let’s go Sharks!