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San Jose Sharks season preview

THE BOTTOM LINE

By Jim Kelley, Special to ESPN.com


Last time out, the Sharks contended for first overall in the West, right down to the final days of the season. They settled for second, but they want No. 1 this time around.

Offense: The Sharks are fast, strong, deep and talented, especially on the attack, and are decent on the power play. They've lost veterans Vincent Damphousse (retirement), Curtis Brown, Mike Rathje and others to free agency, but have young talent in the wings.

Defense: It's somewhat unknown, but it's remarkably sound and strong as Scott Hannan, Kyle McLaren and Brad Stuart move the puck smartly.

Goaltending: Solid No. 1 in Evgeni Nabokov, who does all things well and has improved his consistency. Rising star is No. 2 man Vesa Toskala.

WHERE THEY'LL FINISH
1st
YES Talented and relatively deep at all positions while not too old at any one spot. Good coaching.
BUT It only happens if the league allows hooking, holding and obstruction to slow down what may be the fasted team in the league.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Marcel Goc is a rookie who will likely fill the role of dedicated checking center.

HEY, COACH!

The Sharks have a proven winner in Ron Wilson. He can design an offense, motivates well and always has his team prepared.


FACEOFFS
BEST OFFSEASON MOVE --> RIGHT SIGN


Keeping the rights to highly regarded winger Alexander Korolyuk even though he opted to sign in Russia. Recent signings there indicate the door is not always closed even after the contract is inked.

WORST OFFSEASON MOVE --> LESS BITE


The Sharks losing the muscle of 6-foot-5 defenseman Mike Rathje to the Flyers..

Patrick Marleau, C
Marleau led the team with 28 goals and 29 assists in 80 games in 2003-04.

Evgeni Nabokov, G
Nabokov was a rock for the Sharks, posting a 31-19-8 record and a third-best nine shutouts.

Quoteables


Preparation, attention to detail and work ethic. I won't compromise on those.

 Ron Wilson on what he expects from players