The San Jose Sharks remained on a low profile last season due to an underwhelming performance and the rapid growth of Santa Clara’s football team, the 49ers. However, as the National Hockey League (NHL), the pro sports league for hockey, transitions to make the contact sport safer by realigning its divisions, how will the SJ Sharks fare?
Throughout the 2019-20 season, the team was set back with injuries to top players, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, and Erik Karlsson. However, with the end of the season, the NHL free agent market opened up and San Jose made some quick and smart moves by acquiring goalie Devan Dubnyk and forward Ryan Donato from the Minnesota Wild and welcoming back longtime icon, Patrick Marleau. Despite Marleau’s return to San Jose, the franchise parted ways with longtime fan-favorite Joe Thornton and stellar goalie Aaron Dell, who both signed a one year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Still, despite the hope that the 2020 free agency has to offer, pulling through to reach the playoffs this season will be challenging for a plethora of reasons. Firstly, top western teams such as the Stanley Cup favorite Colorado Avalanche, the 2019 Stanley Cup Winner, St Louis Blues, and the talented Vegas Golden Knights are all in battle to take the top spot in the division. With multiple matchups against these teams, the chance of finishing as a leading team in the division remains low. Secondly, San Jose lacks elite forwards such as Nathan MacKinnon, Connor McDavid, or Auston Matthews to compete against the offensively stacked division. Finally, the team’s goaltending situation seems to be highly unpredictable of success, with both newly acquired Devan Dubnyk and former starter Martin Jones coming out of career lows in save percentages. Despite this, the Sharks have begun the 2021 season as a confident and determined team.
Photo Courtesy: ABC7 News
In a schoolwide poll, 51 Silver Creek students responded to a poll on whether they thought the Sharks would make the 2021 playoffs or not. Amazingly, 64.7% students agreed that the franchise will clinch a Stanley Cup playoff berth, but among them, most predicted that San Jose will finish with a low playoff position.
However, the SJ Sharks have constantly proved the doubters wrong. In the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, despite finishing without a home ice advantage, the team went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, and came close to defeating the much favored Pittsburgh Penguins. Now it is up to the San Jose Sharks to decide how they want to frame their 2021 legacy.
Sources; NHL, Mercury News