We should have saw this coming. After years of failing to meet expectations, the public wasn’t expecting much from the Sharks in 2015-16 after missing the playoffs in 2014-15 and naturally made the Stanley Cup Finals. They are one of my favorite teams to watch for the absolutely loaded top 6 that they have while Brent Burns is making wild offensive rushes all game. There’s a ton of fantasy assets on this roster so let’s take a look at what they’re working with:
Martin Jones‘ first season as a full time starter couldn’t have gone any better. After being traded from the Kings to the Bruins only to be flipped to San Jose, Jones started 65 games and posted a 2.27 GAA, .918 sv% and 37 wins. It was even better in the playoffs at 2.16 and .923. Last season, that put Jones as the #9 overall goalie. I expect more of the same this season from Jones. I have him ranked 43rd overall as a bottom end #1 goalie. Once my top 250 is done, I’m planning on sliding Jones up a few spots but please, please don’t take him in the first round like ESPN has him ranked. That’s just absurd and there’s literally only downside there.
Early indications are that Aaron Dell is going to backup Jones. Dell would be a 27 year old rookie who rose through the ranks from North Dakota in college, through the ECHL and then to the AHL. The last two seasons in the AHL he’s had a .924 save percentage over 66 games. Jones is the clear workhorse here so Dell has little value but take a look at how he does in his first couple starts to see if he’ll be worth streaming going forward.
The aforementioned Burns was incredible last season finishing as the #1 fantasy defenseman and 7th overall skater (amazingly, that was 3rd for Sharks players). Burns scored 27 goals and 45 assists with 53 PIM and 32 STP (30 on the power play). If that isn’t crazy enough, he had 353 shots on goal! That was the second best total in the entire league coming from a defenseman. He literally added over 100 shots last season but even if he meets in the middle (I think it’ll be closer to the 353), Burns is still at 300 shots. It’s simply spectacular across the board which puts him at 15th overall for me, clearly worthy of a second round pick.
After Burns, the Sharks are lacking fantasy assets on the blue line. Marc-Edouard Vlasic is terrific in real life and while he certainly should be drafted in standard leagues, he’s more of a #4 fantasy defenseman. Vlasic finished last season with 39 points in 67 games with a +15 and 48 PIM, all very nice. He finished with 10 PPP which I can’t see getting better since he won’t be on the first power play unit and his shots are under 2 per game. The assists and plus-minus (plus player 6 years in a row, 8 of 9 in career) are assets but the rest of his statline is average at best.
That’s all that I’m drafting in standard leagues. Paul Martin stays at home now to cover for Burns; he had 20 points last season with 49 shots in 78 games. That almost seems impossible playing over 20 minutes per game so it’s a hard pass. Justin Braun is the other member of the top 4 but he’s never topped 23 points in a season during his career. The most interesting fantasy guy to me is David Schlemko. He comes over from the Devils and while I’m definitely not drafting him in standard leagues, he’s appealing in deep leagues since he should get PP2 time. If Burns or Vlasic were to get injured, he could be a sneaky add for power play points.
The Joe’s led the way for the Sharks rolling the entire season. Let’s start with Joe Pavelski. Pavelski had his third straight monster season with 38 goals and 40 assists while being a +25. Add in 28 PPP, 30 PIM and almost 3 shots per game and Little Joe settled in as the 5th best skater in fantasy last season. The shots did take a big step back and he is 32 years old now but Pavelski is incredibly safe. He’s played every game for 5 straight seasons, he’s been a plus player every season of his career and I’m not worried about him wearing down on the wing. He’s 10th overall for me making him worthy of a first round pick in standard leagues.
Jumbo Joe Thornton was amazingly the #6 skater last season despite an ADP of 86. Thornton finished second in the NHL with 63 assists while adding 19 goals, 54 PIM and +25. The 29 PPP just shows how good that first power play unit is. The problem with Thornton is his shot rate; at 37 his shot rate is a clear negative. He finished with 121 SOG which takes a lot of work to make up. His shooting percentage was also 15.7% last season which should fall. I think he takes a slight step back across the board this season and while 15+55 is still incredibly value, I’m not reaching for a 37 year old hoping he repeats a point per game. I have Thornton 54th overall and if you’re playing head to head leagues, you can bump him up a bit. I think you need to have two elite goal scorers / shot takers to draft him though.
Logan Couture‘s regular season was a big step back due to injury. Couture only played 52 games and scored 15+21 with a big regression in shot rate. However, he was arguably the best player in the playoffs with 30 points in 24 games. When he came back, Couture was getting time on the third line; that’s not going to happen again. I have him at 52nd overall saying, “A return to his 2014-15 status when he scored 67 points and took over 3 shots per game is in the cards.” And that’s me quoting me copying what Grey does!
This is where the big dropoff is to players who are must-draft but far from elite. The big offseason acquisition is Mikkel Boedker who comes over from Colorado after being in Arizona for years. Boedker finished with 17+34 with a career high shot rate, although it’s still below average. He’s also the favorite to play with the two Joes but there are some worries. The biggest one is that Boedker won’t be on the first power play unit barring an injury. If he’s not playing with the Joes, then I don’t even want to draft Boedker. I have him at 150th but there’s a good chance I drop him lower due to the uncertainty around him.
Tomas Hertl was closer to his rookie season form last season scoring 21 goals and 25 assists playing on the first line. While I love Hertl, it looks like he’s going to be the third line center this season mostly because they don’t have many alternatives. Not getting to play with the Joes is a big hit to his value. I still like taking the flier on him in case he sticks on the first line but I’m certainly not drafting him as high as I did last season.
Patrick Marleau has played every game for 7 consecutive seasons but it’s clearly on the decline. He finished with 25 goals and 23 assists with a declining but still above average shot rate. The problem with taking Marleau is there’s little upside to be better than say, 55 points, but there’s a ton of downside. There’s a chance that he loses his spot on the first power play unit which would just gut his value. To prove it, Marleau had only 9 assists at even strength last season which is simply horrible. If you’re desperate for goals, you can take Marleau late but I’m not looking to take him, I’m going with someone with more upside.
There are a couple guys I’m looking to stream but I don’t feel great about drafting. My first choice is Joonas Donskoi. Donskoi scored 11 goals and 25 assists as a rookie and looks to be playing with Couture and Marleau on the second line. The problem is that the shots are poor and he won’t get first power play time. That makes him undraftable but he should be one of my favorite streams again. Joel Ward is in the same boat. His first season in San Jose was great by his standards with 21 goals and 22 assists. The problem is that his best stretch was when Couture was out. We can’t count on that happening and now he looks like he’s in the bottom six.
TOP 5 PROSPECTS
1) Timo Meier (There’s a chance he makes the team on the third line and if he does, he’s a decent flier for standards. Love him in dynasties as a former top 10 pick with excellent physical abilities with offensive skill)
2) Nikolay Goldobin
3) Kevin Labanc (I like him as a super deep sleeper in dynasties, former 6th round pick who could be a late bloomer)
4) Mantas Armalis (there’s a chance he’s the backup)
5) Mirco Mueller
That’s all for now guys. I hope to get my top 200 out tomorrow; if not then it’ll be a preview of the Kings. Only two previews to go! Also, Matt should be back on the hockey side of things tomorrow with his goaltender rankings so be on the lookout for that. The newest podcast on the Metro is also out so give it a listen here or in your pod catcher. As always, feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments below. Take care everyone!