Vancouver Canucks 2017-18 season preview: San Jose Sharks Edition

SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 08: Jannik Hansen
SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 08: Jannik Hansen /

The Vancouver Canucks did not manage to earn a single point against the San Jose Sharks last year.

Many Vancouver Canucks fans had an interesting experience late last year. When the season officially ended for the Canucks, they became San Jose Sharks fans for the playoffs. Short-lived, however, as the Sharks were utterly destroyed by the Edmonton Oilers.

These orca-turned-shark fans (myself included), were hoping for the Sharks to make it all the way and win the Stanley Cup. That would have turned the conditional fourth-round pick in the Jannik Hansen trade into a 31st-overall draft pick at the latest draft.

Instead, the Canucks were stuck with the fourth-round pick, which they traded to Chicago for two later draft picks that yielded defenceman Kristoffer Gunnarsson and forward Petrus Palmu.

But after being so close to winning their first Stanley Cup just a year ago, the Sharks have fallen far. Very far. With Los Angeles not making the playoffs this year, are we finally seeing the reign of the Californian teams come to an end in the Pacific Division?

What did the Sharks do to better themselves after a disappointing postseason?

Offseason Changes

The Sharks had… an offseason. They let go of Patrick Marleau, letting him walk free to play in Toronto. Marleau was getting old, of course, but he was the heart and soul of the Sharks for so many years. Plus, the Sharks have not done anything to regain that 27-goal offence that Marleau provided. No NHL players were added.

San Jose Sharks (46-29-7, Conference  Quarterfinals)

2016-17 vs. Vancouver
  • (5-0) 21GF, 5GA against Vancouver

2017-18 vs. Vancouver

  • Nov. 11 @San Jose
  • Dec. 15 @Vancouver
  • Dec. 21 @San Jose
  • Feb. 15 @San Jose
  • Mar. 17 @Vancouver

3 Storylines to Watch in 2017-18

  1. Hansen vs. Goldobin

Jannik Hansen was traded to San Jose at the trade deadline for Nikolay Goldobin and a fourth-round pick that has now become prospects Gunnarsson and Palmu. Following the trade, Hansen went on to score two goals and seven points in 15 regular season games and managed just one assist in the six-game series against the Oilers.

More from The Canuck Way

While this seems like a big win for Vancouver at this point in time, it will be interesting to see how Goldobin will perform this year.

He has proven he can dominate the AHL offensively and is just about ready for everything in the NHL.

Both Hansen and Goldobin have tremendous speed.

While Goldobin is younger and more gifted offensively, Hansen is a much better two-way player who has a history of playing a grinder’s game, meaning he is a great forechecker.

Let’s see how these two stack up against each other in 2018.

2. Canucks younger, Sharks older

As the Hansen-Goldobin comparison shows, the Canucks are getting younger, albeit by baby steps, while the Sharks are getting older. Joe Thornton is 38, Joel Ward is set to become 37, Joe Pavelski is 33 and even Brent Burns is looking at 32 years of age.

Just as the young Oilers outplayed these ageing Sharks, will the Canucks be able to use their youth to their advantage against the older Sharks?

Or does this mean much more? Is it now the close of an era of strong hockey in San Jose? Only a 28-year-old Logan Couture stands to take over in San Jose once his seniors leave.

In comparison to the Canucks who are actually starting to materialize a succession plan for the Sedin twins, the Sharks seem due for a major downfall because of their ageing core.

3. Beat. Martin. Jones.

We can talk about all these things Vancouver is doing better than San Jose. They are winning the Hansen trade. They are transitioning well. They are not letting their franchise’s legacy player (like Henrik Sedin, like Patrick Marleau) simply walk away for nothing.

But nothing really matters on the ice.

The Canucks managed five goals against the Sharks last year. In five games.

Five one-goal games is just simply embarrassing. Find a way to beat netminder Martin Jones, the North Vancouver native.

Next: 30-in-30 Los Angeles Kings Edition

The Sharks will face the Canucks the most times out of all NHL teams, as Vancouver will play San Jose five times and the other Pacific Division teams just four times. Here’s to hoping Vancouver will manage more than five goals this season against the Sharks.