The San Jose Sharks have once again landed in a position where they will likely miss the playoffs, and it sometimes feels that a series of bad contracts and aging veterans set the team back significantly. Without a playoff hope, many fans will turn their attention to other teams to cheer for in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, however, if you are looking to keep your allegiance to the Sharks strong, there are a few teams in particular to keep an eye on in the postseason.
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Since the Sharks are avoiding a full rebuild, many of their extremely talented players either left in free agency or remain on the team. As a result, many players who once dawned the teal play more important roles in their new team’s middle-six. However, a handful of players look like they will be making an impact in the playoffs this year.
The Minnesota Wild are one of the more exciting teams to watch as of late. They have a very young team with many talented players filling out the roster. Since the acquisition of Marc-Andre Fleury at the trade deadline, it looks like they will be making a serious push to win the cup this season, not to mention if the Wild win it all, it will be their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
In terms of former Sharks, the Wild have Jake Middleton, who they acquired in a move this past trade deadline. Middleton was a massive presence on the blue line during his time in San Jose. He fought hard for his team, and he was not afraid to pick a fight or two to get the bench riled up. In Minnesota, his playing time may be decreased, but Sharks fans should still be happy to see such an important player make the playoffs.
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While Middleton is the only former Shark on the Wild, cheering for them should be an easy pill to swallow. There has never been a large rivalry between these two teams, and the Wild share the same pains of never winning a Stanley Cup. While they may not be the number one team Sharks fans look to cheer for, they will still be fun to watch when May rolls around.
It is no surprise that the Colorado Avalanche are favorites to win the Stanley Cup. Since their second-round defeat to the Sharks in the 2019 playoffs, the team has exploded in talent. However, since their massive turnaround, the Avalanche have yet to make it past the second round. To try and turn their luck around, the team made minor moves to improve their depth at the trade deadline this season.
The Avalanche acquired Andrew Cogliano from the Sharks right before the trade deadline concluded. Cogliano was a free-agent signing this past offseason, and he provided some much needed veteran leadership to a semi-young Sharks team. Unfortunately, he could not find continued success in his time in San Jose, so he will look to win a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche this season.
Related: Ranking the Sharks 2022 Trade Deadline Moves
The Avalanche might be harder to convince Sharks fans to cheer for. The second-round battle between these two teams got gritty, and fans definitely do not enjoy watching their team get beaten to a pulp every time they face off with the Avalanche. However, for the Sharks fans that loved Cogliano, Colorado might be the team to cheer for in this year’s playoffs.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers have been preparing for their year to compete for a while. Since the signing of Artemi Panarin, the emergence of young talent, and some excellent drafting, the team looked like they were getting ready to make a playoff run sometime soon. This season it seems like their playoff dreams might just become a reality.
This past offseason, the Rangers made a move to acquire the rights to Barclay Goodrow before free agency began. After winning two Stanley Cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning, he could not be resigned due to the tight cap situation. With the Rangers being as close as they were, they decided the former Shark who sent the Las Vegas Golden Knights packing in game seven of the 2019 playoffs was the grit they needed to get the job done.
While it might be hard to cheer for Gerard Gallant, Sharks fans absolutely love Goodrow. He gave fans one of the most memorable playoff comebacks in team history. Even to this day, seeing Vegas blow their three-goal lead still brings a smile to Sharks fans. Without Goodrow, that may not have been possible. Seeing him win three cups in a row would be wonderful.
The Dallas Stars are on the verge of making the playoffs. They are currently in a tight race for a wild card spot with the Golden Knights, and they have some games in hand. While their playoff spot is far from guaranteed right now, they have a team that could make the playoffs and even go as far as they did in 2020.
If there is one former Shark that fans still love today, that player is Joe Pavelski. Very few players who dawned the teal made as big an impact as he did. There are so many reasons why Pavelski was everything that Sharks fans adored. He was the perfect captain. He fought tooth and nail for his team. He deflected pucks into the net like no other. Seeing him leave for the Stars was a dagger to the heart.
Cheering for Pavelski to win with the Stars is a no-brainer. While it does not seem like the odds of them winning the Stanley Cup are very high, they still have the potential to get it done. If all the pieces click, anything is possible. Plus, who would not want to see Vegas miss the playoffs for the first time in their franchise’s history?
The Florida Panthers are going all-in this season. They have made move after move to ensure their odds of winning the cup are as high as possible. They look as close to invincible as an NHL team can look going into the postseason, and if they win the Stanley Cup, almost no one will be surprised.
If there is one team Sharks fans should want to see win the cup this season, it should undoubtedly be the Panthers. Following another Toronto Maple Leafs first-round exit, Joe Thornton made the switch to Florida. While he has been scratched for a hefty number of games, this could be Thorton’s best chance to win a Stanley Cup. He arguably deserves a cup more than most players currently in the league. Besides, he may not have many chances left.
While it may be disappointing to see the Sharks outside of the playoffs again, there are numerous former players that fans can cheer for this year. With Doug Wilson no longer in charge of the Sharks, perhaps they will finally begin to rebuild and return to the playoffs soon. However, for the time being, it looks like fans will need to find a different team to root for this playoffs.