51-26-5 (fifth in West); lost in second round to Detroit
KEY ADDITIONS C
KEY LOSSES LW
Mark Bell, D Scott Hannan, G Vesa Toskala
While the Sharks
have played in as many playoff series since 2004 as any other NHL team (seven),
San Jose has kicked away at least two sterling chances to vie for the Stanley
Cup in the past three seasons. "We're not going to know if we've turned the
corner until we get back to the same spot and are faced with it again,"
coach Ron Wilson says. "There's something there, a glass ceiling or
whatever, that we just need to break through."
Confronted with a
swift, skilled and physical team that seemed to lose its way at the most
inopportune times, G.M. Doug Wilson stifled any impulse to blow it all up and
instead locked it all up. Wilson extended the deals of his one-two punch at
center, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, as well as up-and-coming winger Milan
Michalek, one year after granting extensions to goalie Evgeni Nabokov and
winger Jonathan Cheechoo. Says Ron Wilson, "I think we have the right mix
of players, who in most cases are hitting the primes of their careers, and
other young players who are trending up."
thinks the team's window of Cup opportunity extends at least through the
2010-11 season for a team that boasts 15 regulars whom the Sharks drafted or
who made their NHL debuts with San Jose.
If these Sharks
have an underbelly, it is a backline corps that lacks, unlike division rival
Anaheim with Chris Pronger, a prototypical franchise defenseman. But the
late-season addition of Craig Rivet and the continued development of Matt Carle
and Marc-Edouard Vlasic should prove to be a sufficient buffer for Nabokov, who
might not be the top�five goalie his G.M. contends but who is certainly