By Dominic Lancella on June 27, 2014
The San Jose Sharks are coming off a season in which they compiled a whopping 111 points, but had the ultimate letdown in the playoffs. They were up 3-0 to the Los Angeles Kings in the first round with a chance to sweep. Instead, they lost four straight to the eventual champs and ended their season in agony. Still, the Sharks have made the playoffs for 10 straight seasons. Here are five players to build around to keep their playoff trend going.
With Dan Boyle more than likely to leave the Sharks this offseason, other defensemen are going to have to fill the void. Demers is capable of doing that on both ends of the ice. He led all Shark blueliners in assists last season and was second to Boyle in points. He’s not too shabby on offense either, and at age 26, he could be a key defenseman in the future for San Jose.
Hertl was taking the NHL by storm at the beginning of last season until he suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss three and a half months. He’s proven himself offensively with 25 points in 37 games last season. If not for his injury, Hertl probably would have went on to win the Calder Trophy. At age 20, Hertl’s future is bright and the Sharks should keep him incorporated in their plans ahead.
Couture has scored 20-plus goals in his last four seasons and has become a valuable member of the Sharks. He’s solid on faceoffs and has developed into a very strong defensive forward. He’s a great all-around center, which San Jose will need more than ever, considering there’s a strong chance that Joe Thorton’s days are done in a Sharks uniform.
Simply put, Vlasic is the best defenseman on this team, and he’s been with the Sharks since he was 19. Now at age 27, he’s still the kind of guy you want to build your defense around. He’s not as much a point-producer as he is a shutdown defender, something that all teams need to have. He’s an experienced defenseman and still has years of great play ahead of him.
Pavelski may come as a surprise because he’s 30 years old in July, but with Thornton and Patrick Marleau’s futures uncertain, this will become his team soon enough. Despite his age, he still has many productive years in the tank. He led the Western Conference with 16 power play goals and set career-highs in goals and points last season. Pavelski may be San Jose’s most important player for the next few years, which is why he tops this list.
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