As part of NHL.com's 31 in 31 series, our fantasy hockey staff is breaking down each team's landscape. Fantasy-relevant players are listed in order of rank in NHL.com's top 250. Today, we look at the San Jose Sharks.
[SHARKS 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Behind the numbers | More team fantasy previews]
Joe Pavelski, C/RW -- He's had at least 29 goals, 68 points, a plus-11, 22 power-play points and 224 shots on goal in each of the past four seasons. Pavelski is on the ice frequently with center Joe Thornton and defenseman Brent Burns, and his high career shooting percentage (12.1 in career; 10th among active players, min. 800 games played, 2,400 SOG) adds to his stable fantasy profile. Pavelski would provide great value if available in the late-second or early-third round.
Logan Couture, C -- The two-time 60-point producer has been limited to 125 of a possible 164 games over the past two seasons. He's capable of strong point, SOG and PPP totals when healthy for a full season, but his injury track record and projected linemates are cause for concern. The 28-year-old is worth drafting outside the top 75, but could miss veteran left wing Patrick Marleau. To get back to 60 points, Couture needs to not only stay healthy but also get more help from Mikkel Boedker, Joonas Donskoi and/or Joel Ward.
Joe Thornton, C (INJ.) -- The 38-year-old had surgery April 24 to repair two damaged ligaments in his left knee, but is expected to be ready for the start of the season. He had 50 points (seven goals, 43 assists) in 79 games last season, a significant decline compared to his elite production in 2015-16 (82 points in 82 games). His average draft position (46.4; finished 135th in Yahoo) should be much lower this time around because of age and injury concerns, but don't sleep on his chances of bouncing back alongside Pavelski.
Tomas Hertl, C/LW -- The 23-year-old has never reached 50 points or been a power-play specialist (NHL career-high 46 points, seven PPP, 202 SOG in 2015-16). Fantasy owners likely remember Hertl's impact as a rookie in 2013-14 prior to his knee injury (25 points, plus-11, 98 SOG in 37 games), but his value is low after another knee injury limited him to 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 49 games last season. But if Hertl seizes Marleau's spot on the first power-play unit, bringing more exposure to Burns, Pavelski and Thornton, he could be primed for his best fantasy season yet.
Video: EDM@SJS, Gm4: Couture nets 30th career playoff goal
Brent Burns -- The 32-year-old led all defensemen in goals (29) and points (76) and led the League in SOG (320) last season. He was relied upon heavily as the Sharks offense (2.67 goals per game; 19th) and power play (16.7 percent; 25th) regressed last season, and had a hand on 35 percent of San Jose's goals (219). Burns continues to improve in points and plus/minus since switching back to defense in 2014-15, and remains the top-ranked player at his position, especially with Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators) having offseason surgery to repair tendons in his foot.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, D -- The Sharks' depth scoring took a big hit, and it negatively affected Vlasic's points-per-game average (0.37 last season; 0.58 in 2015-16). He still chipped in PPP (seven) on the second unit, but had seven fewer even-strength points (20 in 75 games) despite playing eight more games than the previous season (27 ES points in 67 games). But even with those dips, he's an efficient, workhorse defenseman attainable in late rounds to round out any fantasy roster.
Video: EDM@SJS: Burns buries long-range shot through traffic
Martin Jones -- The Sharks' regression affected Jones' fantasy value (ADP: 24.2; finished 139th in Yahoo); he took steps back in wins (35), goals-against average (2.40), save percentage (.912) and shutouts (two) compared to his breakout season in 2015-16 (37 wins, 2.27, .918, six SO). That said, it was encouraging to see him bounce back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where he had a 1.75 GAA, .935 SV% and one SO in the Sharks' six-game series loss to the Edmonton Oilers. Jones remains a fringe top 10 goaltender, but it would be understandable to steer clear if he's overdrafted with the Sharks' window closing in the Pacific Division.
Others to consider: Timo Meier (LW/RW), Mikkel Boedker (LW/RW), Joonas Donskoi (LW/RW), Aaron Dell (G), Jannik Hansen (LW/RW)