What Went Wrong continues this week, as the Rotoworld staff look at clubs that entered the season with big hopes and left with unfulfilled expectations. San Jose was among the better teams in the league a season ago, so their 2014-15 performance had to be all the more disappointing.
The Sharks missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003. The team and head coach Todd McLellan agreed to mutually part ways after the season and San Jose hired former New Jersey bench boss Peter DeBoer to take his place.
DeBoer will be responsible for getting San Jose's defensive game back on track. The team allowed 2.73 goals against per game to land 24th in the NHL. Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi has to share part of that blame. His 2.59 goals-against average is the worst total he has posted since he made just three appearances in his first taste of NHL action in 2008-09. Niemi faced 1,811 shots (ninth-most in the NHL) and he allowed 155 goals (seventh-most in the league). The team's penalty kill didn't do him any favors either by ranking 25th in the NHL and he posted a lackluster .863 save percentage while shorthanded. Niemi is expected to test unrestricted free agency, so San Jose will have to address their goaltending at some point during the off-season.
San Jose surprisingly struggled at home in 2014-15 with a 19-17-5 record. The Sharks had a mark of 27-17-6 going into February, but the season took a turn for the worse after that and San Jose won just 13 of their next 32 matches to fall out of the playoff picture.
GM Doug Wilson sought to change the culture of the team by stripping Joe Thornton of the captaincy going into the year. The two of them had a public spat late in the season when the topic was brought up again, but Wilson insisted that everything was fine between the two of them. Thornton had a solid season on the ice, with 65 points in 78 games, despite what appeared to be a fractured relationship with the Sharks' GM. If Wilson can co-exist with his players then the Sharks still have a core in place that can return to the playoffs, especially if they clean up the defensive zone.
The Sharks will be looking for better performances from these players in 2015-16:
Patrick Marleau - Marleau had surpassed 30 goals in seven of his previous nine seasons, but he scored just 19 markers in 2014-15 to go with 38 assists and a minus-17 rating in 82 games. His performance was eerily similar to the totals he posted in 2007-08 when he had 48 points and a minus-19 rating. The good news is that he was able to bounce back from that and fantasy owners should keep that in mind going into next year. Marleau still managed to rack up 233 shots and 24 power-play points, so he has the potential to be a valuable contributor.
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