Hey guys! Sven here with our stop in San Jose for 31 in 31! Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2018-19 fantasy hockey season: The 31 in 31 daily segment. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material! Reminder that the stat totals are from last season.
Evander Kane – 78GP 29-25-54. Kane proved he is a force at #1LW with the Sharks, ripping 14 points in 17 games down the stretch. With a career high of 57 points since being drafted fourth overall in 2009, Kane is still capable of breaking out into a more prolific point-getter. If the Sharks decide to split up Burns and Karlsson and Kane jumps onto the #1PP, his stock rises that much higher. With the trend of Kane earning more assists while still putting the puck in the net, 60 points isn’t out of the question. Evander would be a solid pick in rounds 6-8.
Joe Pavelski – 82GP 22-44-66. Pavelski got off to a very slow start last season (which made me regret taking him second-round), however picked it up down the stretch and still put together a respectable season. I believe Pavelski’s hiccup is not going to repeat itself, and 70 points seems to be his reasonable point total target.
Logan Couture – 78GP 24-37-61. Couture has been very consistent when healthy over his career, putting up anywhere from 50-65 points. What you see is what you get with him, and he will likely be available somewhere in the early-teen rounds of the draft.
Joe Thornton – 47GP 13-23-36. Jumbo Joe proved he still had it last year, putting together good numbers in an injury-plagued season. If he is able to stay healthy, the Sharks will likely still rely on Thornton for big minutes and PP draws. There is a risk in drafting him, but the 39-year-old still has plenty of gas in the tank.
Timo Meier – 81GP 21-15-36. Meier was able to put together a decent Sophomore season, and will likely have a permanent top-six role this season on the wing of Couture. The Sharks must think it’s time for their 2015 first-rounder to break out, and what better time to do it when this team appears to be stocked up for a good run this year.
Kevin Labanc – 77GP 11-29-40. Labanc enjoyed a 20-point increase in his sophomore season with the Sharks, and turned out to be a decent streamer in most leagues last year. That being said, I like Meier’s chances of having a top-six role much more than Labanc’s. 40 points seem reasonable, but that doesn’t give much reason to own him.
Brent Burns – 82GP 12-55-67. Despite his goal-count plummeting last season, Burns still put up top-tier points once again. With this total likely to return to where it was two seasons ago, Burns is a for sure top pick despite sharing the defensive points output with a new face mentioned below.
Erik Karlsson – 71GP 9-53-62. The Sharks recently traded for a guy that would carry the load defensively on any other team – but he won’t have to with the players they have in their D corps. That being said, Karlsson is primed to have another great season despite that defensive scoring being spread out. It will be interesting to see whether the Sharks put both players on #1PP or decide to make both units equally as lethal on the back-end, but either way Karlsson is still a top-tier pick.
Tim Heed – 29GP 3-8-11. When I watched Heed play last season, he literally struck me as a Swedish Burns. The 27-year-old has the upside to pan out into a great offensive defenceman, but it doesn’t seem like the Sharks will have much room on their back-end for him to play minutes this season. If the Sharks don’t re-sign Karlsson this off-season, expect Heed to be one of my big-time sleepers heading into 2019-2020.
Martin Jones – 60GP 2.55GAA 915SV%. Though he doesn’t do anything special in terms of posting fantastic numbers, Jones will win a lot of games this season entirely based on the quality of the team in front of him. This is an attractive point for points leagues, making him a very good pickup as your #1 goaltender.
Antti Suomela – Liiga: 59GP 21-39-60. Signed out of the Finnish league, Suomela is a late bloomer with lots of playmaking upside that will hopefully translate to the NHL. Likely San Jose’s #3C to start the year, the 24-year-old could make his way into the top-six with the regression of Jumbo Joe. Keep your eye out to see how the Finn plays this season.
Dylan Gambrell – NCAA: 41GP 13-30-43. Gambrell is a 2016 second-round pick that will likely have a bottom-six role for the Sharks this season out of college. Though we have seen college players blast onto the NHL scene and put up great rookie seasons, this typically happens on teams with gaps in their top-six. The only opportunity for Gambrell to receive big ice time at C this season will come if Thornton gets injured again. For the time being, a transition year can’t hurt the 22-year-old.
Maxim Letunov – NCAA: 36GP 12-16-28. Letunov is a 2014 second-rounder that also spent time in the NCAA, but for whatever reason his points regressed slightly through his time with UCONN. That being said, his +/- dramatically improved, which would hint at the 22-year-old blossoming into a more well-rounded player. With a start in the AHL likely being the Sharks’ plan for Letunov, we will see how he is able to perform in his first year in the Pros.
Jeremy Roy – AHL: 20GP 2-6-8. Despite playing just 30 games over the last two seasons due to injury, Roy is still an intriguing prospect that is receiving comparisons to Duncan Keith. If he is able to stay healthy this season, the 2015 second-rounder should be able to put together an impressive season in the AHL. Praised for his two-way play and intangible character, he is an excellent player for the Sharks to have in their organization.
Noah Gregor – WHL: 60GP 29-36-65. Gregor is a 2016 fourth-round pick transitioning from a successful major-junior career to the minors. With a couple of holes at centre, Gregor could find his way into the Sharks’ lineup if he has a good camp. That being said, he is likely lower on the depth chart than Suomela and Gambrell mentioned above. Regardless, he will have his first crack at the Pros this season and his crafty play along with top-end speed will hopefully transfer over with him.
Jayden Halbgewachs – WHL: 72GP 70-59-129. After winning the WHL scoring title last season, league announcers hopefully were able to pronounce his last name by season’s end. Halbgewachs was signed out of major-junior by San Jose, and has certainly demonstrated his ability to score at a scary rate. Though undersized at only 5’8”, his speed and killer finish help him make scoring look easy. Perhaps being reunited with teammate Noah Gregor in the AHL this season could help him produce right away, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing 100 points out of him again. He is a very exciting prospect for San Jose, and hopefully we see him at some point this season.
Ryan Merkley – OHL: 63GP 13-54-67. The Sharks made a huge gamble taking Merkley in the 2018 first-round, but it could end up being the steal of the draft. Merkley has reportedly had some off-ice issues in the past, but his offensive talent is undeniable, recording over a PPG as a defenceman with Guelph last season. Given the Sharks current D corps, Merkley will likely have a big fish small pond year back in major-junior and look to crack next year’s roster.
Alexander Chmelevski – OHL: 68GP 35-41-76. It’s not every day a team signs their sixth-round pick from a year prior, however with a very impressive season in major-junior last year Chmelevski has certainly impressed. With an impressive six-game stint in the AHL last year (3-1-4), Chmelevski could very well find himself on that roster rather than back in major-junior, but only time will tell.
Ivan Chekhovich – QMJHL: 65GP 29-31-60. Just when I thought the Sharks couldn’t get any more interesting, they have also signed their 2017 seventh-round pick in Chekhovich. After two good seasons with Baie-Comeau (QMJHL) and a very nice AHL stint last season (3-6-9), Chekhovich is destined to have a massive big fish small pond season this year in the Q. He has a fantastic shot and has an intangible nose for the net, so hopefully he lights it up this year.