Parker Michaels continues his NHL Season Preview series in reverse to first order according to his projected standings. Be sure to bookmark our Season Previews home base here where links to all 31 teams will appear as they’re posted. At No. 7, the San Jose Sharks.
Stanley Cup: +1200 (Bovada, BetOnline)
Western Conference: +700 (Bovada)
Pacific Division: +240 (Bovada)
Regular Season Points: 101.5 (-114, -106) (Bookmaker), 101.5 (-120, -110) (Bovada), 101.5 (-110) (BetOnline)
Make Playoffs: YES -300, NO +240 (BetOnline), YES -350, NO +275 (Bovada)
Current odds as of October 1, 2018
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
*Individual Player Ratings represent how many points in the standings each player is directly responsible for over the course of the full season and is called Point Shares. It involves the base formula created by Justin Kubatko at hockey-reference.com. An explanation of how I further use his methods can be found here with a more detailed methodology by Kubatko himself, here. The average value for a forward is 3.5 and a defenseman is 4.4 Point Shares
*Salaries in green denote entry-level contract
NHL RANK: 16
NHL RANK: 15
NHL RANK: 17
NHL RANK: 18
NHL RANK: 1
NHL RANK: T-23
(Starter – 19, Backup – T-44)
San Jose projects to be the top team in the Pacific Division by just 0.1 points over Los Angeles but it certainly was not the forecast before the addition of Superman – aka Erik Karlsson. I was actually quite down on the Sharks before the trade, seeing them as a bubble team and just outside the playoff picture. That is the power of adding a player the caliber of Karlsson who adds 10.7 points of value, the 14th highest skater in the league and tied for third among defensemen (with teammate Brent Burns and behind Victor Hedman and Drew Doughty) However, there are still several concerns with this Sharks roster.
The Sharks depth chart looks a bit different than most would have thought with head coach Pete DeBoer dropping Evander Kane down to line three beside rookie Antti Suomela and Joonas Donskoi. Suomela had an outstanding training camp and projects high at 3.0 Point Shares for a third line rookie. He makes the loss of Chris Tierney easier to swallow after he was sent to Ottawa in the Karlsson deal. Timo Meier is expected to start beside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski but DeBoer will no doubt continue to mix and match if something is not working. It gives the Sharks a great top-nine balance, but the overall lack of scoring is still a concern.
Defenseman Brent Burns led the team in scoring for the second consecutive season. He is an incredible offensive talent but what is concerning is he accomplished the feat this past year with just 67 points. Pavelski (66) and Logan Couture (61) were the only other San Jose players to eclipse the 50-point mark. There is a very good chance the Sharks top two leading scorers this year will be defensemen and while that seems exciting, also has to be a bit worrisome.
San Jose was a very average team last season when playing outside the Pacific Division, going 24-22-7 overall. They managed to secure a playoff spot thanks to running roughshod over their own division, dominating the rest of the Pacific with a 21-5-3 record. With almost every team within the division appearing stronger this season, the Sharks will have to be better outside the Pacific Time Zone.
This may come as a surprise to some, but the Sharks greatest weakness is their goaltending as Martin Jones does not project to be a top tier starter. San Jose has had a very good defensive system over the past few years and Jones ends up getting a lot of the credit, but he has just a .915 save percentage over the past three seasons, a barely above average number and well low for a top tier starter. Looking at Goals-Saved-Above-Average, a better indicator of a goaltender’s performance against league average, Jones’ GSAA has also been quite pedestrian with the final numbers of 4.62, -2.72 and 4.12 in each of the past three seasons. Those numbers ranked him 21st, 38th and 24th overall among all qualified goaltenders.
Aaron Dell is a very capable backup, despite seeing his numbers also slip last season. On a per game average, Dell projects as the stronger netminder but the sample size is a lot smaller, with just 49 total NHL games under his belt over the last two seasons.
The defense is going to be incredibly interesting (and fun) to watch with two of the best offensive defensemen this generation has seen. Some believe the Sharks now own the best defense in the league, or at least the best top-four, but according to my projections this is not the case although they do project second-best both overall and top-four.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic is one of the best shutdown defensemen in the NHL and adds a formidable third leg but Joakim Ryan – while still very good in his own right – is still young and hurts their top-four rating overall. The great thing about Ryan is he still has room to grow, but the top-four of Nashville with Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Matthias Ekholm and P.K. Subban still come out on top and it is not even really close with a projected Point Shares value of 37.9 for the Predators foursome to the 32.3 of the Sharks. Even taking out Ryan and inserting Ryan Braun, who actually projects as the Sharks fourth-best defenseman, the Sharks still come out well below the Predators, but that is okay. This defense is still one of the best in the league and should carry them deep into the season.
My point projection of 103.5 is two points higher than the current 101.5 number at offshore sportsbooks. Not enough value to warrant a bet here.
Current Stanley Cup Futures list San Jose on average around 5th or 6th, slightly higher than my projection of 8th overall. Considering I was much lower than the market before the Karlsson trade, it is not surprising I am still a bit lower now. The best number I currently see is +1200 for the Sharks to win the Cup and is not a number I am interested in. Congrats if you grabbed them around +2000 before the trade, but the value is no longer there. A slow start would be welcomed so we will keep an eye open for a better number later in the season.
Regarding prop bets for awards, Martin Jones is listed under the Vezina category at +2500 but if you read above, you can surmise my lack of interest there. Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture are listed as longshots for the Hart but should not challenge that category, along with Pavelski who is +7000 for the Art Ross. Couture is also listed for the Rocket Richard at +4000 but has never been more than a 20-25 goal scorer before his career-high 34 last season on a career-high 16.7% shooting percentage. It is unlikely he can top the 40-goal mark.
I am still not seeing any Norris odds anywhere which is unfortunate. Karlsson was the betting favorite at +250 on Bovada before they were pulled after the Seth Jones injury. Burns was tied for third at +650. Two of the best point producers in the league but my concern would be them splitting the vote, so I was more interested in a couple of other names for Norris. It does not look like I will be getting involved on any San Jose bets prior to opening night.
Salary numbers from capfriendly.com, stats from hockey-reference.com and naturalstattrick.com