Tuesday, September 9, 2008

NHL Four-cast: San Jose Sharks

1 - Why is this team worth watching? Evgeni Nabokov is a superstar - if he wasn't Kazakh he would be a household name. Joe Thornton may not come through in the playoffs but he is still one of the best pivots in the league. Jody Shelley is a true heavyweight, Mike Grier is the definition of a professional and two more words: Jeremy Roenick.

2 - Are they better or worse than last year? Par for the course. They watched Brian Campbell go despite their best efforts and sold the farm to bring in Dan Boyle. Boyle is better but they did mortgage a chunk of their future to get him, but that is a problem for a few seasons from now. They did have to deal Craig Rivet, which was disappointing, but they added Rob Blake, who is still relevant after all these years. Devin Setoguchi, Douglas Murray and Ryane Clowe all added more NHL experience but Setoguchi will have a tough time getting the ice time he needs, Murray won't be more than a third defenseman and Clowe is coming off of knee surgery.

3 - Who should YOU draft in fantasy? Thornton, Boyle and Nabokov are all top flight guys. You may be able to get Boyle later than usual because he had 'just' 25 points in 37 games and was an awful -29, something that shouldn't be a problem this year. Jonathan Cheechoo killed me last year so screw him, but he should do better if Todd McLellan loosens the reins. Milan Michalek got his clock cleaned the last time we saw him so you are gambling if you think he will improve over last year. And if you really want to roll the dice, Patrick Marleau is your man. Marleau is incredibly skilled but has been the subject of rumour after rumour after rumour - it has clearly screwed with his mind but if McLellan gives him a vote of confidence, watch out.

4 - How cool would it be if Jeff Friesen could really come back? Very cool indeed. Now I don't think he can do it, considering the extent of injuries in his past and his age but Owen Nolan pulled the same thing and he is back to being a solid NHL citizen. At the most, Friesen makes it back and fills in Patrick Rissmiller's third/fourth line spot. At the least, San Jose did the right thing by giving a former player and a fan favourite at that a shot. Best of luck to him.

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