San Jose Sharks: Who’s Hot & Who’s Not
Who's Hot & Who's Not Heading Into San Jose Sharks Training Camp
For the better part of the past 15 years, the San Jose Sharks have been a dominant team in the National Hockey League. Albeit, the franchise has yet to win a Stanley Cup, but it has finished first in its division five times since 2003, including a President’s Trophy in 2008-09.
After plenty of disappointing seasons playing as one of the top seeds in the Western Conference playoffs, the Sharks outperformed their expectations as a seven-seed in 2013. They swept rival Vancouver Canucks in the first round but fell to the Los Angeles Kings in the second.
Sharks fans have to be excited, however, to see how the team will compete following a complete Training Camp schedule, unlike the shortened lockout version last season. Manager Todd McLellan has hinted to a couple of line changes, so the Sharks will have to work out the kinks to get ready for this 2013-14 campaign.
Many of the Sharks players look primed to have a solid season — including a young star continuing to rise and an even younger talent waiting to blossom. Some, however, have some problems to iron out before the hit the ice.
All in all, look for San Jose to return to its heightened level of play it has exhibited over the last decade-plus. The team should finish much higher than the seventh seed it earned in last year’s postseason. The addition of Tyler Kennedy and Brent Burns’ permanent move to forward should help the offense score at an alarming rate.
Here are five Sharks players competing in this year’s Training Camp, but the question is: Who's hot and who's not?
HOT: Logan Couture, Center
Logan Couture is by far the most exciting young player on a San Jose Sharks team with plenty of veteran presence. He scored 21 goals during last year's shortened 48-game season, good enough for a tie for 10th in the NHL. Couture is scoring machine; he slotted 63 goals combined in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. Don't look for any signs of slowing down for Couture, who should lead a playoff-bound Sharks quad in scoring this season.
NOT: Martin Havlat, Right Wing
Injury uncertainties are in the air surrounding winger Martin Havlat. The two-time All-Star is not expected to be 100% ready at the start of training camp, which begins Thursday. Word is that he is ahead of schedule rehabbing from his groin surgery in May. Havlat, however, has been a magnet to injuries — he's missed 51 regular-season games during his two-year tenure with the Sharks. He hasn't been too productive either, scoring just 15 goals and 30 assists in 79 games.
HOT: Antti Niemi, Goalie
Following a stellar performance all of last season through the playoffs, Antti Niemi is now touted as one of the best goalies in the NHL. You could make the argument that he was snubbed for the Vezina Trophy in 2012-13, a season in which Niemi led the NHL in minutes and wins. Niemi is possibly playing some of the best hockey of his life, and fans can look for his hot play to continue this season heading into training camp.
NOT: Raffi Torres, Left Wing
Raffi Torres was a solid addition to the San Jose Sharks, and helped bring a physical presence to the team in the playoffs. His intense physicality is exactly why I think he's "Not Hot" at the moment. The NHL has a new rule for targeting the head of a player, an offense Torres has committed on multiple occasions. Torres better keep his temper in check and watch how hits other players.
HOT: Tomas Hertl, Center
Reports say that 19-year-old-rookie Tomas Hertl should make the Opening Night roster out of training camp. The San Jose Sharks' first-round pick in 2012 has opened many eyes this offseason playing in the Czech League. Hertl could be the face of the future for the Sharks, possibly alongside Logan Couture. Hertl's hot offseason has Sharks fans buzzing about his potential.