The San Jose Sharks have become a perennial playoff contender over the past few years, but they have always fallen short on the biggest stage. Last year, a lack of depth up front and the inability to finish cost them a shot at the Stanley Cup, so the team went out and spent the offseason attempting to address their biggest needs. The Sharks return the same core from a year ago, but three notable offseason moves has improved the overall outlook and made them a legitimate Stanley Cup contender heading in to 2013-14.
2013 Stanley Cup Odds: +2,000
Notable Change #1: Sharks Add Depth Up Front
The lack of depth up front really hurt the Sharks last season so they went out and added some key pieces that can move throughout the lineup depending on need. As soon as the team realized that TJ Gagliardi wasn’t going to resign they went out and spent a second-round pick on Tyler Kennedy, who provides an excellent depth option as an energy player that could chip in offensively. Kennedy played a limited role with the Penguins the past couple of years, but could find himself in a bigger role for the Sharks. San Jose also added Tim Kennedy, and he is pegged to play a similar role despite not having as much of an offensive touch as Tyler. Tim is another energy guy that can be moved throughout the bottom-six depending on need, and it’s likely that he will be used to help generate some energy in a checking role with the chance to move throughout the lineup based on need.
Notable Change #2: Hertl Ready To Add Scoring Touch Up Front
The 17th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft led his Czech team with 18 goals in 43 games, and is ready to make the jump to San Jose where he is ready to contribute up front. The Sharks had him playing on the top line with Joe Thornton during the preseason, where he looks like he can be a steady two-way contributor. San Jose struggled with a lack of depth up front during last year’s run to the postseason, and the arrival of some talented young forwards will help. Hertl is defensively responsible enough that he is worth giving plenty of opportunity right away, and the Sharks appear ready to give him those chances on the top line to open the year.
Notable Change #3: Havlat Will Be Back Healthy And Needs To Stay That Way
The Sharks will benefit from a healthy top-six including Martin Havlat, who missed much of last year with injuries including in the playoffs when the team needed him most. Havlat will miss the beginning of the year after offseason surgery to repair his hamstring, but that should have him ready for the playoffs. Fortunately, losing him last season allowed the team to try Brent Burns up front, a move that ended up paying dividends as he thrived in that role and will start the year next to Thornton and Hertl. Tyler Kennedy is currently slotted on the second line with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau and will likely stay there until Havlat is healthy, something San Jose will need to make an extended playoff run.
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