San Jose Sharks Line Profiles: Defense
We all know how this works, right? Here are my predictions for the points totals and line combinations of the San Jose Sharks:
Pairing One: Boyle-Murray
Why mess with success, right? While this pair was obviously not always up to the challenge of stopping the Sedins on every shift, they still compliment each other very well. With the addition of Brent Burns, they will not be asked to play as many minutes each night. Boyle isn't getting any younger, so this should be a good arrangement for everyone involved.
Dan Boyle: 8-38-46 – Boyle is getting to the top of the hill, and while it hasn't affected his performance to date, 25 minutes every night be a little much to ask of the defenseman. As long as Burns is there to take some of that pressure, he will still be able to put up the points that make Sharks fans love him.
Douglas Murray: 2-12-14, 230+ hits – I thought it necessary to include an extra statistic by Murray's name, as he is almost certainly going to lead the Sharks in hits for yet another season. The man commonly referred to as Crankshaft isn't going to win any awards for his offensive play, but I'm willing to bet that nobody would say that to his face.
Pairing Two: Vlasic-Burns
Everybody in Teal Town is eagerly awaiting Brent Burns' first game with San Jose. The Sharks paid a handsome price for his services, and he is going to have to prove that he was worth it. Still, he should fit right in on a Sharks' D that was lacking a big name player. This pairing will most likely play as many minutes, if not more, than the 'top' pair.
M.A. Vlasic: 5-20-25 – Vlasic has really come into his own the last couple of seasons as an up-and-coming stay at home defenseman. His offensive game may have suffered a bit, but it was necessary in order to advance his defensize-zone play. Not to mention, he has one of the most dangerous poke checks in the league. I expect his offensive numbers to increase a bit with a better partner and more ice time.
Brent Burns: 20-33-53 – If Burns can rack up 46 points and an All-Star appearance with the offensively inadequate Wild, then he should almost certainly be able to increase upon those numbers in San Jose. Look for Burns to play on the top powerplay unit and receive top line minutes, despite being on the 'second' defense pair.
Pairing Three: Demers-White
The Sharks now have 8 NHL-ready defensemen, allowing for good depth on the back end, but I think Demers and White will earn the 5th and 6th spots. Braun and Vandermeer should battle throughout the season to be the 7th defenseman, and both will be able to step right in and hold the fort down respectably, should there be any injuries.
Jason Demers: 2-19-21 – It would be great if Demers could take a step forward in his development and continue to progress offensively. Unfortunately, there are just not enough minutes to go around. The top two pairs will surely command a large chunk of playing time, so Demers may be the odd man out. He could see time on the second powerplay unit, but expect his numbers to remain static from the previous season.
Colin White: 1-7-8 – I don't admit to knowing a lot about White, except that he is a safe, stay-at-home player who may have lost a step or two over the years. But with reduced minutes, he should still be able to be a productive member of the team, even though that won't translate into points. White also brings a Stanley Cup ring into the locker room, which will be good experience come playoff time.
Brief thoughts from Penticton:
The Sharks' rookie tournament kicked off Sunday against the Calgary Flames prospects, San Jose coming out on top 6-1. San Jose and Calgary have arguably two of the worst to prospect pools in the league, so needless to say, that score doesn't really mean much. I didn't watch the whole game, but from what I saw, it was quite obvious that Taylor Doherty is a giant. He is over 6'7'' without skates on, and has an opportunity to be an NHL player in a couple seasons. Another bright spot I noticed was the play of goaltender Thomas Heemskerk. He didn't play the entire game, but he was exceptional in minutes he did play and did not let in a single goal.
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