San Jose Sharks Line Profiles - Bottom Six
In the first part of this blog series I profiled the Sharks' top six forwards. Optimistically, those six players should all have very good seasons and San Jose will once again have one of the best top six in the league. This time I will be profiling the less-spectacular bottom six.
Line Three: McGinn-Handzus-Mitchell
Last season, one of the Sharks' biggest strengths was their ability to run three potent scoring lines. Todd McLellan had the luxury of putting Pavelski on the third line for most of the season. Any third line with Joe Pavelski on it automatically becomes one of the best third lines in the league. This offseason, however, Doug Wilson decided to trade some of his offensive depth for defensive depth, which will hopefully be a change for the better. But this leaves the Sharks' third line greatly weaker than last season. The first two lines will have to score more and play more than last year to make up for the bottom lines' lack of production.
Handzus: 19-21-40 – Handzus was brought in to replace Pavelski as the third line center, but he will not produce nearly as much as Joe did. Handzus is a good two-way player and will definitely spend time on the penalty kill, but he will have to improve upon 30 points from last season to make an impact on the Sharks' 2011-12 season.
McGinn: 11-10-21 – Jamie Mcginn has yet to accrue a full season on the Big Sharks, but this year he will most likely get his chance to play a full 82-game season in San Jose, barring injury (knock on wood). He's never been a big point scorer, with his best point total being 13 points. But McGinn can become a valuable third line forechecker / backchecker, the kind of player who seems to have unlimited energy and a player that every team needs. Kind of like a bigger, better Scott Nichol, if you will.
Mitchell: 10-15-25 – While those point totals are better than he scored last season, the prediction is based on a full 82 game season. Mitchell only played 66 games last season, therefore those totals are really not better. I can't envision a situation in which Mitchell has a better year than he did last year, considering the drop-off in quality players next to him. Last year he was lucky enough to play with Joe Pavelski for a majority of the season; this year he will not have that kind of player, and hopefully he will be able to be productive without Pavs.
Line Four: ???-???-???
There are many directions San Jose can go with on the fourth line. One player who I think will most likely be on this line for a majority of the season, as he has the most experience with the Sharks' system. Another player who could spend a lot of time on the fourth line is newly signed Andrew Murray, coming from Columbus where he had 8 points in 29 games last season due to injury. If James Sheppard proves his worth in training camp, he could start the season on this line. And if he plays well enough, he may even be able to knock McGinn off of line number 3. Players like John McCarthy, Frazer McLarren, Andrew Desjardins, and Brandon Mashinter could also spend time on the fourth line. The Sharks bottom line players have been known to be a part of the “Worcester Shuffle”, and this year will probably be no different, with many players looking for time with the big club. I am not even going to try to predict stats for these players, as I have no clue who will or will not actually be on the line.
In part 3 i will profile the Sharks' defensive group, and probably throw in the goaltenders too.