With Evander Kane in tow, San Jose is making a late year push to up their playoff stock.
There’s little chance they’ll catch Vegas in the Pacific which currently boasts a 12-point lead, but they have a solid shot at the West’s fourth playoff spot and home-ice advantage in the first series at least, as they sit just four points behind Minnesota.
After five points in his first three contests with the Sharks, Kane’s been held pointless in his last two but he’s exerted a physical presence nonetheless with six hits in each game. He’s also lit a fire under their top line skating next to Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi. Donskoi’s racked up five points in his last five contests and is on pace to meet his solid 2015-16 scoring totals (36 points) after disappointing last year.
Pavelski blasted out with three goals and four assists after Kane’s arrival, though he also hasn’t registered a point over their last two. In the midst of a down scoring campaign for him, the 12-year vet is back on pace for a plus-60 point campaign.
What’s more, Mikkel Boedker is finally producing more like the forward the Sharks expected to be getting when they locked him up with a four year, 16 million dollar deal two summers ago. After hitting on five goals and two assists in a four game mid-February span he’s been producing at a more reliable pace, totaling 13 goals and 14 assists in 60 contests.
After bottoming out with just 26 points in 81 games last year, Boedker looks likely to creep into the mid-30s range. That’s not quite the 51 points he racked up in his final year before moving to SJ, but it’s an improvement, and not awful considering he’s averaging just a hair above 13 minutes per game. He’s been really killing it since January 1 with a higher five-on-five goal rate (1.32 goals/60 min) than even Taylor Hall (1.31), and registering five-on-five points (2.64 points/60) at a higher rate than Sidney Crosby (2.44).
With various contributions the Sharks have done a decent job of compensating for the loss of Joe Thornton, as they’re tied for 14th in the league in goals scored since his January 23 injury. Prior to that they were tied for 19th. They do rank last in the NHL in power play percentage however at 14.7% since Thornton’s injury, succeeding just seven times in 49 opportunities. In the five games since Kane’s arrival they’ve still only hit on one of 12 chances, so there’s plenty of room for growth there.
Regarding peripherals, Kane nearly tops the Sharks’ list in hits on the year with 143, sandwiched between two defensemen, Brenden Dillon (with 164 and owned in only 8% of Fantrax leagues) and Justin Braun registering 125. If you’re league allows you to pick up players during the playoffs, or if you’re making a late season postseason drive yourself, San Jose offers some good value in multi-cat pools.
Some of the same suspects head up the Sharks’ blocked shot numbers. Marc-Edouard Vlasic leads the pack with 141, good for 11th in the league, with Braun not too far behind at 125. With his dual peripheral production, and owned in just 37% of Fantrax leagues, he might be worth a look.
Of course Brent Burns is again proving a beast in racking up shots on goal with 276, third best in the league and best among blueliners. Although his goals have dipped notably this campaign, currently at 10 after successive years of 27 and 29 he’s still firing and, while he may have lost some tread on the tire, a solid bounce-back candidate in next year’s drafts. His assist numbers are still among the best of blueliners with 43 on the campaign, sitting only behind John Klingberg’s 50 and Erik Karlsson’s 44.
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