While the San Jose Sharks may not be reaching the promised land as a team, the talent at the top of their depth chart gives them lots of value for fantasy owners.
Top Picks: There is a changing of the guard in San Jose, where C Logan Couture is emerging as a more productive option ahead of C Joe Thornton. Couture has 84 goals over the last three seasons, tied with Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Toews for seventh spot. At 24, he's just hitting his peak years and could be considered as a low-end No. 1 pivot, though he's outstanding if he's your No. 2.
Thornton is hardly put out to pasture. Even in the last three years, when his point totals have declined below the point-per-game threshold, his 141 assists ranks fourth.
LW Patrick Marleau's production has tailed off -- last year's 0.65 points per game was his second-lowest since 2002. Even so, Marleau has 166 goals since 2008-2009; only Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos (both 208) have more.
Consistency is part of the reason for RW Joe Pavelski being so valuable. That, and his ability to play wing and centre. Pavelski has 268 points since 2008-2009, ranking 45th (his 117 goals ranks 32nd), so he's a reasonable low-end No. 1 option on right wing, so long as the Sharks don't move him into the third-line centre role too often.
In three seasons with the Sharks, G Antti Niemi ranks seventh with a .919 save percentage and is tied for third with 93 wins. Easy pick as a fantasy starting goaltender, though he might come at a premium price after a career-best season in 2013.
Veteran D Dan Boyle played 22:38 per game last season, his lowest ice time since 2003-2004 and his scoring (0.43 ppg) was at his lowest level since 2001-2002. He's 37-years-old and could be slowing down, or he could be a veteran player who didn't play anywhere during the lockout. As it is, he's San Jose's best option on the blueline and probably worth of a No. 2 spot in most fantasy leagues.
Value Plays: There's an ongoing back-and-forth between the Sharks and RW Martin Havlat about whether or not Havlat will be ready to play at the start of the season, following offseason groin surgery. Even if he is, Havlat isn't a stranger to missing time with injuries (though he's been healthier in recent seasons). He has 45 points in 79 games in two years with the Sharks, which is underwhelming, but that production would be enough to generate some fantasy interest, particularly considering his upside, as a seven-time 50-point scorer.
Sleepers/Breakthrough: RW Brent Burns may be a sleeper in some respects, because he's moving to right wing for a full season, but he's on everyone's radar after last year, so you're going to have to pay full retail prices. With nine goals and 20 points in 24 games on right wing last season, Burns offers the potential for, perhaps, a 30-goal season while skating on the wing with a setup man like Joe Thornton.
25-year-old D Matt Irwin didn't ease his way into the lineup last year, playing more than 19 minutes per game as a rookie, but he acquitted himself well and his bomb from the point gives him power play value. He may not have draft day value in anything but the deepest leagues, but he's one to watch.
Rookies: The 17th pick in the 2012 Draft, LW Tomas Hertl is going to have a legitimate chance to crack the Sharks' top six forwards after scoring 18 goals in 43 Czech League games last season. Given the quality of San Jose's top forwards, that's a great situation for a skilled young forward and one that makes Hertl worth a try as a No. 4 left winger, if only for the upside play.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.