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Fantasy Puck Preview: San Jose Sharks

Scott Cullen
9/24/2008 2:10:48 PM
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Another playoff exit brought about an offseason of change in San Jose, but there are still many attractive players for fantasy hockey.

Franchise centre Joe Thornton is among the the most productive scorers in the game and one of a handful of players who has a fair expectation of shooting for 100 points.

Thornton's wingers benefit from his superior playmaking skills.

On one side, Jonathan Cheechoo is looking for a bounceback season after a sports hernia bothered him for much of last year, limiting him to just 37 points in 69 games. Having scored 37 and 56 goals in the previous two seasons, Cheechoo has to be better.

On the other wing, big and skilled Milan Michalek's production slipped from 66 points in 2006-2007 to 55 points in 2007-2008. Playing alongside Thornton, and just entering his prime, Michalek can be expected to push for a career-best season.

Another Shark needing a rebound season is veteran centre Patrick Marleau, whose 48 points last year was his lowest total since 2001-2002, but he did have a decent second half (23 points in 29 games after the All-Star break) so it's fair to expect 60-plus points out of him this year.

Marleau worked well last season with Joe Pavelski, who is a young creative forward on his way up and should be poised for a career year.

Hard-working winger Ryane Clowe missed most of the 2007-2008 season, but he finished strong with a nice scoring spurt in the playoffs, and he should be a solid contributor, particularly in leagues that count penalty minutes.

If Clowe is going to hold onto a spot on a scoring line, he'll need to fight off Devin Setoguchi, a speedy winger who needs to maintain his consistency if he's going to be counted on offensively.

The blueline has two veteran newcomers that will both play a huge role.

Dan Boyle suffered through a miserable 2007-2008 season, which was undone early when he severed his wrist. Boyle can't possibly be worse on the plus-minus scale (minus-29 in 37 games last season) and, with a full season, Boyle should be one of the higher-scoring defencemen in the game.

38-year-old Rob Blake has lost a step, but should respond to a much stronger supporting cast in San Jose after going -45 in his last two seasons with the Kings. Blake is no longer a priority defenceman, but an improved plus-minus combined with decent scoring and penalty minute totals makes him well worth a pick.

Coming off the best season of his career, 33-year-old Evgeni Nabokov may not see 77 starts or 46 wins again, but he's going to be in the first tier of fantasy goalies as he's likely to play 70-plus games for a quality team.

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