The San Jose Sharks will be competing in a new-look division for the upcoming NHL season. Leading up to the start of the season, we’ll be looking at how the Sharks’ lineup compares to each team in their division. First up: the Colorado Avalanche.
While the Sharks will likely still have some holes in their lineup despite offseason additions, they have a pretty decent forward group, when healthy. Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Evander Kane and Timo Meier make for legitimate top-six forwards, while Kevin Labanc and new addition Ryan Donato are still young and can be counted on for secondary scoring. The Sharks also brought back Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto, who should help to resolve some of their depth scoring issues, while Marcus Sorensen is a decent bottom-six option as well.
Colorado, however, has not one but two legitimate stars up front. Nathan MacKinnon has emerged as one of the best players in the league, while Mikko Rantanen is just a year removed from a 96-point pace.
Captain Gabriel Landeskog is another huge threat up front, while Andre Burakovsky is coming off a breakout year. Let’s not forget about Nazem Kadri or offseason acquisition Brandon Saad either. The Avalanche also have depth to work with, including J.T. Compher, Matt Calvert, and former Shark Joonas Donskoi. Colorado not only has more star power, they have the better depth as well.
The Sharks still have Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson and if both can bounce back this season, it would do wonders for the team. That said, it’s an aging defense group that lacks depth. Marc-Edouard Vlasic is declining and both Mario Ferraro and Radim Simek still lack experience. The Sharks also have an open spot on their blue line to be won in camp, with no legitimate NHL defenders or high-end, fully-developed prospects in contention.
For the Avalanche, it’s a different story. Cale Makar is fresh off winning the Calder Trophy, while Samuel Girard could also continue to take steps in his development next season.
The Avalanche also acquired Devon Toews from the New York Islanders this offseason and at 32 years old, Erik Johnson can still play big minutes for the team. Ryan Graves also led the entire league in plus/minus last season, while two-time Stanley Cup Champion Ian Cole provides solid depth.
The Sharks probably aren’t going to win a lot of goaltending battles this season. Even with the addition of Devan Dubnyk, San Jose may still not have a stable situation in net. The Avalanche, on the other hand, have a pretty solid tandem. Philipp Grubauer had a solid .916 save percentage in 36 games last season, while Pavel Francouz topped that, with a .923 save percentage in 34 games.
Unfortunately, Colorado is a team that the Sharks probably wish wasn’t added to their division for the upcoming season. The Avalanche should be considered legitimate contenders and are a good bet to finish ahead of the Sharks this season.
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Do you think the Sharks will finish ahead of the Avalanche in the standings this season?