As part of NHL.com's 31 in 31 series, the fantasy hockey staff identifies relevant players from each team for 2018-19. Today, we look at San Jose Sharks players, listed in order of rank in NHL.com's top 250. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy.
MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Impact of Karlsson trade to Sharks | Top 250 rankings
Erik Karlsson, D* -- The potential 2019 unrestricted free agent is the top-ranked fantasy defenseman again after being traded to the San Jose Sharks. Karlsson, 28, finished 155th in Yahoo with the Ottawa Senators last season (largely because he was minus-25) but still had at least 62 points for the sixth straight full season despite being limited to 71 games. Karlsson gains power-play exposure to fellow elite defenseman Brent Burns and even-strength usage within a loaded offense, making him worth drafting in the late first round.
Brent Burns, D -- He leads NHL defensemen in four of the six standard fantasy categories (goals, points, power-play points, shots on goal) since 2015-16. Burns ranks second among all players in SOG (1,005) over that span behind Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (1,066) and stacks up well, year after year, among the top 30 overall fantasy assets. Burns had an NHL career-high 55 assists last season but regressed drastically in goals (12; 29 in 2016-17) and had a hits total (79) below his career average (1.2 per game). Burns, 33, is now ranked second among defensemen by NHL.com behind his new teammate Karlsson but remains as safe of an option as you'll find in the second round. Burns hasn't missed a game since before he moved from forward to defenseman in 2014-15.
Video: Brent Burns takes the No. 4 spot on the list
Martin Jones, G -- He has had at least 30 wins in each of his three seasons with San Jose and has combined for 12 shutouts in that span (tied for sixth in NHL). With added team security after the Sharks acquired Karlsson, re-signed forwards Evander Kane (seven-year contract), Logan Couture (eight-year extension) and Tomas Hertl (four-year contract), Jones should get plenty of goal support. One concern is that Jones' even-strength save percentage has dipped in each of the past two seasons (.914 last season; .916 in 2016-17) following his breakout season in 2015-16 (.925). But Jones, 28, has clear 40-win upside with Karlsson, Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic in front of him and the Sharks being a threat to win the Western Conference.
Joe Pavelski, C/RW* -- The potential 2019 unrestricted free agent is one of five top 50 players in NHL.com's rankings to retain dual eligibility in Yahoo for 2018-19 (others: Jamie Benn, Claude Giroux, Blake Wheeler, Leon Draisaitl). Pavelski, 34, was center on a line with Evander Kane after the Sharks acquired the left wing in a trade from the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 26 and could form an explosive trio with Kane and longtime linemate Joe Thornton (knee; healthy for training camp). Pavelski holds his own in the hits category (93 last season; 1.0 per game in NHL career), has at least 61 points in each of the past seven full NHL seasons and ranks among the top 10 in goals (167; sixth) and PPP (135; seventh) since 2013-14.
Video: Joe Pavelski on his summer activities, season prep
Evander Kane, LW -- The 27-year-old is one of the most valuable producers of hits (159 last season; 2.3 per game in NHL career) and SOG (3.6 per game in NHL career). He combined for 54 points (29 goals, 25 assists) and 307 SOG in 78 games last season for the Sharks and Sabres, his best season since 2011-12 with the Jets (57 points in 74 games). Kane was nearly a point-per-game player (14 points in 17 games) after joining San Jose and feasibly could reach or exceed NHL career highs in every fantasy category over a full season with the Sharks. Target him right around Pavelski among the top 50 and hope he shatters his NHL career high in PPP (has had nine twice) if he sees time on San Jose's vaunted first unit.
Logan Couture, C/LW -- The versatile 29-year-old retains dual eligibility in Yahoo after exceeding 60 points for the third time in his NHL career (61 last season). He formed chemistry with Hertl in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and is likely to play center on a line with him again this season, along with either Timo Meier or Joonas Donskoi on the right side. Couture covers PPP (21 last season) well on the first unit with Burns and Pavelski, and he has had at least 200 SOG (204 last season) in five of his six full seasons. He's usually attainable in the 76-100 range overall and would be a bargain if he contributes to Hertl's long-awaited fantasy breakout.
Video: SJS@VGK, Gm2: Couture wins it with PPG in 2OT
Tomas Hertl, C/LW/RW -- The 24-year-old has never reached 50 points in a single NHL season and has been derailed by multiple knee injuries in his career. But he had NHL career highs in goals (22) and PPP (12) in 2017-18, when he tied his highest point total (he also had 46 in 2015-16). Hertl took his game to a new level in the postseason with nine points (six goals, three assists), three PPP and 34 SOG in 10 games on the second line with Couture and first power-play unit. With Couture and Hertl signed long term, each could build on his momentum this season. It's worth noting Hertl is the only fantasy-relevant player to retain tri-position eligibility in Yahoo.
Timo Meier, LW, SJS** -- The 21-year-old covered goals (21), SOG (210) and hits (105; 1.5 per game in NHL career) last season, and he has a chance to take on bigger minutes (14:52 per game) as early as this season. San Jose has dealt with injuries to core players Thornton, Couture and Hertl in recent seasons, and Meier is a sleeper candidate who could return value in the 14th round or later of a 12-team draft. Meier ranked third on the Sharks in goals per 60 minutes (1.05) behind Kane (1.57) and Couture (1.41), indicating he could make a profound fantasy impact with expanded usage.
Other players with fantasy upside in late rounds or off waiver wire: Marc-Edouard Vlasic, D; Joe Thornton, C - INJ.*; Aaron Dell, G; Joonas Donskoi, LW/RW*; Kevin Labanc, LW/RW**
*Potential 2019 unrestricted free agent
**Potential 2019 restricted free agent
INJ. - Injury concern entering 2018-19