Projecting Sharks Top Scorers

Prior to the season, the wagering gods linked over and under point totals to star players league-wide.  Put gambling aside, and this gives us some fun numbers to play with.  How spot-on will your predictions be by the end of the 2016-17 season? And how accurate was the line in the first place?

Diving into the accuracy of these forecasts opens another door into the world of player evaluation and production projection. If you’re efficient, this can become a very crafty skill. Now, I promised myself this wouldn’t turn into an analytics piece so I’m going to stop before opening that can of worms.

Joe Pavelski


What I fail to understand is how people voted for Pavelski to score at least 72.5 points, while doubting Joe Thornton’s production. One hand moisturizes the other, so to speak.

After five games (two goals, five assists), the Sharks captain looks on pace to surpass that appointed point total and may be in line to record the second 40-goal season of his illustrious career.

Joe Thornton

Note: As Mr. Laidlaw noted, this was by far “the heaviest under vote”.

Can he do it again?

“The people” clearly don’t think so, but the beauty of Thornton is that he doesn’t hear any of that noise. It was seen as a problem by the Bruins earlier in his career and may have been the deciding factor in stripping him of the “C” in San Jose. But 20 years into his career, scoring may be his best quality. Correction: his on-ice ability is his best quality. With five helpers in five games this season, Jumbo Joe is on par with last season at one point per game.

He’s been clipping along at that rate since he caught fire in December 2015, and a point per game regular season pace dating back nearly eight months at the age of 37 is impressive.

I may have described Pavelski’s career as illustrious, but Thornton’s has been legendary.

Logan Couture

Injured and absent for much of last season, the playoff hero came back in a big way. His postseason performance coupled with his gold-medal worthy World Cup effort gave voters confidence in this projection.  He stood out for Team Canada with his 200-foot game, while his ability to find twine is never in question.

With five points in five contests through October, Couture looks like he’s taken that next step in his development and is graduating from stardom to superstardom. An annual 30 goal tally, a positive rating, and 75-plus points isn’t out of the question for the versatile Sharks forward.

While there were no other players to vote for on social media, I will take a closer look at the rest of the San Jose roster.

Considerable Contributors

Brent Burns


I would’ve loved to see the hockey world’s opinion on Brent Burns repeating last season’s performance, as I think the word “regression” would have been thrown around a lot. Well, if anyone mentioned regression, it’s only because it’s 99-percent on the way to progression.

Burns has already recorded nine points, including three goals off his 25 shots on net. Can you say “Beast Mode”? And I’m not talking about his appearance. Thirty goals and 82 points are on his mind, but accomplishing that while tightening up defensively is really the mission.

Tomas Hertl

The youngin’ of the old gang, Tomas Hertl looks comfortable alongside the two Joes. He had a career-high 46 points a season ago, but his plus-16 rating and 202 shots on goal represented a work ethic that wasn’t necessarily expected from the 22-year-old.

Don’t be fooled  by the flashy style, Hertl excels on that line because of all the little things he does to make the other two go. He is key to their five-on-five play, and anyone familiar with his game knows those fancy moves are the icing on the cake.

A slight bump in production to put him over the 50 point mark is likely, and a recent three-game point streak is the way to achieving that.

Joel Ward

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

This is where things get cloudy. One goal and a team-worst minus-four rating through the first five games is not the kind of return you want on a $3.275 million cap hit. At 35-years-old, and with another year remaining on his contract, this is not the kind of performance the Sharks can afford to continue over the course of the season. Ward has to become the effective role player he was signed to be, and then his offensive game will  come around. Probably just in time for the playoffs…

If Ward can shake off this slow start and approach 20 goals, it will be considered a win for San Jose management.

Patrick Marleau

From one aging veteran to another, Patrick Marleau’s decline is a little more acceptable because of his allegiance to the team. Never competing in anything other than teal (aside from International or all-star teams), Marleau is a Sharks legend and can be excused for not having a career revival at age 37, like his current teammate and former draft rival.

All may seem fine and dandy if Marleau can pot himself 18 more goals over the remaining 77 games (while not plummeting in the plus-minus category), but it’s his leadership that the team truly values. His gas gauge will be what the coaching staff will be focused on as his postseason presence may be worth the decline in regular season production.

Mikkel Boedker & Joonas Donskoi

(Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)
Mikkel Boedker (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

I’m aware the season just started, but one goal and one assist and 1.2 shots on goal per game average are unacceptable for two players flanking Couture. Both players possess other skills that can affect a game aside from scoring, but a $4 million dollar cap hit for Boedker makes it a little tougher to swallow.

Boedker flies when he has open space but is far too inconsistent. He doesn’t always make the right decision, though his athletic ability allows him to get by most of the time. The Sharks were hoping to see the laser-focused Boedker that ripped it up for the Colorado Avalanche late last season, but he’s fallen more in line with his World Cup performance so far.

Complete Sharks Coverage From THW

Donskoi is a fun player to watch for his skating ability and work ethic. His nonstop motor fuels his game, as he competes for loose pucks all over the ice and is always on the right side of the puck. He can create offense when he drives the net and uses those puck protection skills, but he isn’t a natural goal scorer, so to speak. Playing with a proven scorer like Couture should help his assist totals, but it may be the line’s two-way game that takes precedent.

Fifteen goals and 40 points are likely their personal targets, and if it’s reached, this lackadaisical start will long be forgotten.