Last season for the Sharks was rough to say the least. Finishing in last place in the Western Conference was far from what fans are used to from their team that seems to be in the playoff hunt every year. While they have appeared in the Stanley Cup once in 2016, only to lose to the Penguins, the Sharks are usually highly competitive and circling a playoff appearance. While Joe Pavelski left a big hole in the roster when he signed with the Dallas Stars last year, there is still plenty of talent on the team.
Defensemen Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson are back and healthy after missing time last year due to nagging injuries. They are both elite talents when on the ice. Wings Timo Meier and Evander Kane have a proven ability to put the puck in the net and centers Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl are highly effective when they can stay on the ice.
The biggest question mark for the Sharks this season will be their production from the guys between the pipes. Martin Jones' performance the last few seasons has been sub-par. His struggles prompted the team to acquire Devan Dubnyk from the Minnesota Wild. While he had a down year last season, Dubnyk is highly talented and shown that he can turn things around when he has a change of scenery. I see Dubnyk getting a majority of the starts for the Sharks, though with this condensed schedule every team will likely be relying on multiple goalkeepers to get the job done.
While the road will be tough, the Sharks can turn things around and get back in the playoffs this year. Health will play a large role in how this season goes, as last season showed Sharks fans how easily things can go South when injuries start piling up. With plenty of time to recover after last season, the Sharks are poised for a bounce back campaign. The road begins tonight at 6pm PST when they go to Arizona to face-off with Antti Raanta and the Coyotes.