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San Jose Sharks early-season grades: Where do players, coaches and managers stand?


The San Jose Sharks’ official slogan this season is ‘Teal Together.’ Their unofficial slogan has been, ‘Our best players have to be our best players.’

A little more than a quarter of the way through the season, that’s only been partially true.

The Sharks enter Saturday’s game with the St. Louis Blues with a 6-7-2 record, as they’ve had to play 13 of their first 15 games away from home. While some players have been pleasant surprises so far, others have been disappointments.

There’s only so much time to get everyone on the same page. The halfway point, as of now, will come in just under a month on March 17, and the NHL trade deadline comes on April 12. At that point, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson will have to decide whether to buy, sell or stand pat.

Perhaps that decision will be made by the Sharks players and how they perform over the next seven-plus weeks.

Here’s our quarter-mark grades for each individual Sharks player, based on what was expected of them before the season started.

FORWARDS

Logan Couture — Couture leads the Sharks with seven goals and 13 points and also plays close to 20 minutes per game. His line, with Kevin Labanc and Evander Kane, has been the Sharks’ best this month. Couture has also become more comfortable as the team’s captain, and his importance to this team has never been greater. Grade: B+

Kevin Labanc — Labanc was a contender for the NHL’s green jacket last season with a plus/minus rating of -33 in 70 games. His two-way play this season has improved, as he seems to be taking ownership of his role as a top line player alongside Couture. Labanc has just six points in 14 games, but that’s partly due to the Sharks’ anemic power play so far. Grade: B-

Evander Kane — With 10 points in 15 games, Kane is behind the pace he had last season when he had 15 points at this stage (eight of those points came on the power play). But his production isn’t the main issue. It’s the penalties. As of Thursday morning, he was tied for sixth in the NHL with five minors. If he cuts that back without losing the physicality from his game, he’ll be exactly what the Sharks need. Grade: B-

Jan 20, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Blues left wing David Perron (57) checks San Jose Sharks left wing Evander Kane (9) during the first period at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports 

Matt Nieto — Nieto’s been a solid addition to the Sharks’ bottom six forward group. He’s a tenacious forechecker and has been one of the team’s top penalty killers. He has four points in 15 games, but the Sharks didn’t sign him to light up the scoreboard. He’ll be sought after at the trade deadline if the Sharks decide to be sellers. Grade: B-

Ryan Donato — Donato spent most of the first few weeks inside the Sharks’ top six forward group, but has recently been on …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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