The San Jose Sharks will have a new look to them when they open their regular season. Patrick Marleau is gone to the Toronto Maple Leafs and as he went so went the most familiar face on the Sharks. San Jose may still have Joe Thornton, but therein is part of the reason to be skeptical of this NHL club. If Thornton doesn't fill up his stat sheet to the tune of what an $8M salary implies then the Sharks could be in for a terrible season.

Thornton overpaid based on what to expect

Thornton got an $8M contract after a season in San Jose where he appeared in 79 games and scored just seven goals.

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Say whatever you want about the reasons, the bottom line is that San Jose management is banking on a 38-year old, who had surgery during the offseason, to have a bounce-back campaign this upcoming season.

His age is reason enough to be skeptical of that, but let's say he does have a bounce-back year. When you just scored seven goals what does that look like? A 15-goal campaign? That still could leave San Jose overpaying big time and committed to a player that they can't move anywhere at their own discretion because of a no-movement clause.

So where will San Jose get their offense from in forward positions if Thornton gets to double digits for goals and not much further? Take a look at these offensive scoring averages for some of their forwards that project to play on important lines:

  • Mikkel Boedker: 0.32 Points Per Game in 2016/17
  • Melker Karlsson: 0.33 points per game in 2016/17
  • Jannik Hansen: 0.46 points per game in 2016/17
  • Timo Meier: 0.18 points per game in 2016/17

If the Sharks don't get major production out of Thornton, then they could be reliant on Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski.

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Couture had 0.71 points per game in 2016/17 while Pavelski had 0.84 points per game in 2016/17. In regard to the latter player that scoring average was a sinking one as he was nearly a point-per-game guy the previous year.

Brent Burns may lack scoring support

The Sharks will also need scoring from Brent Burns, and that's a fair expectation of their d-man. He excels at scoring for his position, and he seems to be in the prime of his career still at the age of 32. That the Sharks have the highest-scoring defenseman from last season is redeeming for their chances. However, what can't be liked about the situation is that teams are obviously going to be wise to Burns' offensive abilities. If the Sharks end up lean in the forward position, don't be shocked if Burns ends up regressing a bit when it comes to his offensive contributions. A lack of depth for scoring means that teams opposing San Jose can sag defensively and cheat toward Burns. The Sharks will need forwards that can punish those sagging defenses and a two-punch forward attack with Couture and Pavelski, neither of which was top 25 for goals last season, probably won't do it well enough on most nights.

The Sharks are fortunate that they didn't sign the Marleau contract that the Leafs signed with him. But why they gave $8M for Thornton isn't clear when one looks at his stats. You have to look at the name instead, and he is a fan favorite in San Jose. Maybe after losing Marleau, management felt that they needed to keep a familiar face around for the fans. But if the Sharks are banking on a bounce-back year from a guy that's 38 years old, let's not forget that similarly-skilled players have hit brick walls at about that age.

The Hockey News offered their prediction, one that doesn't look that far off, earlier this September regarding the Sharks: "4th in Pacific. The Division is speeding up, while the Sharks are slowing down. This team still has enough talent to make the post-season, but may end up watching at home because of stronger Central Division teams nabbing both wild card slots" (September 18th).

Look for Thornton to average 0.55 points per game, and for the Sharks playoff hopes to rest largely on Martin Jones and Aaron Dell. One of them needs to be top-ten for save percentage with at least 55 games played to give the over-rated Sharks real hopes this season. But overall the Sharks are a team that is just one key injury away from being really bad. If one or more of Thornton, Burns, Pavelski, Couture, Jones, or Dell suffer a big injury then look for the Sharks to miss the post-season. If they all stay healthy and the goalies aren't above average, then they could still bubble. All this without looking at the Pacific Division competition which will include an Edmonton Oiler team that owned the Sharks in the playoffs last year.