Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades - San Jose
For the last 12 years over at The Hockey News, I have reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them. Now that I am no longer with THN, my 13th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes - The Sharks moved towards some tight-checking players who show up well in fancy stats (Martin) and are good in the clutch (Ward). Also hiring a tight-checking coach strongly indicates that this could be more of a defensive squad. The likes of Joe Pavelski could see his offense decline in the year ahead.
In net, the Sharks didn't get anywhere with Niemi. And Stalock had a bad year, so they couldn't trust him with enough certainty. So they acquired Jones, who is probably equal to Stalock in terms of proven ability and upside. In a tighter-checking system, these two goalies will flourish - but with the starts split, fantasy owners will still be downgrading them.
Ready for full-time - Donskoi is a former Florida draft pick whom the Panthers allowed to walk - and then he decided that was the time to break out. In the Finnish League the 23-year-old had 49 points in 58 games last season to lead Karpat in scoring (and fifth in the league). He also had eight points in eight games for Team Finland at the Worlds, which certainly got the Sharks' attention as they signed him right after. The upside here is Jori Lehtera. The downside is Janne Pesonen.
Matt Tennyson is a two-way defender who got into 27 games for San Jose last season and at 25 years of age, is ready to make the jump. I'd expect his progress and offensive development to mimic that of Justin Braun.
Nikolay Goldobin is the next big talent for San Jose. Drafted 27th overall last summer, he boasts tremendous upside thanks to his creativity and goal-scoring ability. He is a little small and needs to add strength, which is why I don't think he plays more than a handful of games for the Sharks next season. He'll be ready a year from now, though.
Fantasy Outlook - The Sharks have fallen upon hard times of late, and their solution to fix it appears to be via defensive hockey. That's the bane of fantasy hockey's existence. While their prospect talent pool is rather shallow, they continue to roll in one or two real solid rookies each season. And now they have Goldobin, Kevin Labanc, Rourke Chartier and Timo Meier on the way.
Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was B-)
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