Puck Daddy’s NHL 2014-15 Emoji Preview: San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture (39) is congratulated by teammates after scoring during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, April 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(The 2014-15 NHL season is nearly upon us, and attempting to handicap the winners and losers can sometimes leave us speechless. So we decided to break down all 30 teams with the next best thing to words: Emojis!) 

Last Season In Emojis

Last Season, In Summary 

The San Jose Sharks went 51-22-9 last season, finishing second in the Pacific Division. Joe Pavelski led the team with 41 goals, Joe Thornton led the team with 65 points. Brent Burns made an effective transition to forward with 22 goals. Assistant coach Larry Robinson’s defense was exemplary, particularly the play of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who earned Norris consideration with a plus-31.

They drew the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs and took a 3-0 series lead, outscoring the Kings by a 17-8 margin.

The NHL was so impressed with that performance that it ended the playoffs early and handed San Jose its first-even Stanley Cup, along with a certificate stating that the Sharks were the “Super Awesomest Non-Chokers” in League history.

Or at least that’s what we heard happened.

Might have gotten some of the details wrong.

Last Season’s Definitive Highlight 

Off-Season Transactions

The utter shock of blowing a 3-0 series lead against the Kings led to one of the strangest offseasons for any team in the NHL.

GM Doug Wilson trumpeted “drastic” changes for his team, calling out players that were too comfortable living in San Jose.

He later walked back both comments.

Wilson went to bat for Todd McLellan, the team’s beleaguered coach, who returns for his seventh season. McLellan’s big move was taking the captaincy from Thornton, although there’s a chance he could earn it back in the preseason.

Two big name veterans were jettisoned: Dan Boyle, who signed with the New York Rangers; and Martin Havlat, who took a buyout and signed with the Devils. Brad Stuart was shipped to the Avs.

A few big hitters were added to the lineup: John Scott, the former Sabres pugilist, signed a 1-year deal. Ditto Micheal Haley of the Islanders. They brought back Mike Brown for two years.

But other than that, no “drastic” changes in personnel. Just big talk about how the team’s leadership and culture would change.

Thornton and Patrick Marleau are still here thanks to their contracts and no-move clauses. Jumbo is coming off a stellar season that earned him Hart consideration, although once again his playoff output was under the microscope at three points in seven games and a minus-6. Marleau had 33 goals and 37 assists, anchoring a second line with Logan Couture (23 goals in 65 games).

With Burns moving back to defense, Thornton could have Pavelski (41 goals) and the brilliant Tomas Hertl (25 points in 37 games as a rookie) with him. Hertl’s season was interrupted thanks to a knee-on-knee collision with beloved rival Dustin Brown.

Other top six candidates include Tommy Wingels, who was sixth on the team with 38 points and Matt Nieto, who had 24 points in 66 games.

Raffi Torres will bring his unique talents to the roster when he heals up. Tyler Kennedy can be better than four goals in 67 games.

Andrew Desjardins, Scott, Brown, James Shappard and Adam Burish are in the mix for the bottom six. Freddie Hamilton, Eriah Hayes and Tye McGinn are all in the mix.

Vlasic was incredible last season. Second on the team in puck possession behind Thornton, and someone that finally broke through to add his name to the usual Norris candidates. He partnered with Justin Braun (20:59) last season, who was a plus-19, as well as Jason Demers (34 points).

Matt Irwin’s primary partner was Boyle; does he now draw Burns as he moves back to the blue line after his top-line adventures last season?

Veteran Scott Hannan, who spent the majority of his time with Demers last season, was brought back. Rookie Mirco Mueller will push time, and the media looks forward to finding new and exciting ways to swap “mirco” and “micro” in headlines.

There was some thought that Antti Niemi would be swapped out for another veteran goalie, but he’s back for the last year of his contract.

His playoff numbers were brutal: .884 save percentage and a 3.74 GAA, getting benched for Game 6 in a desperate move.

Stalock will have his chances to win the majority of the starts this season. 

Probable Text Conversation Within Organization

Special Teams

The Sharks were 20th in the NHL last season at a 17.2 percent power-play conversion rate. That was despite 294 opportunities, which was tied for second in the league. Could a full season from Hertl help bolster that group?

Their penalty kill was sixth overall at 84.9 percent, as they were the least-penalized team in the NHL (219 times shorthanded).

GM and Coach

Wilson has built a regular-season winner that can’t break through in the postseason. By standing pat, he’s essentially saying yet again that the answers are within that dressing room.

McLellan isn’t the problem here. He’s a very good coach, undermined by a core of players that can’t answer the bell. Can he successfully lead a transitions to another leadership group?

And Now, A Blooper 

Joe Pavelski hates the elderly.

The Potential Best Thing About This Team

The defense. Larry Robinson is the best defensive coach in the game, and this group continues to improve steadily. Transitioning from Boyle and Stuart could be one of the easier tasks for this team. 

The Potential Worst Thing About This Team

The nonsensical “transfer of leadership” with the old leaders still in the same locker room. 

Single Emoji Prediction

The rooster, in honor of Joe Thornton.

Maybe the Sharks finally have this figured out. Maybe the changing of the guard works, and everything is harmonious. Or maybe all the veterans need to clear out in order for the new leaders to emerge. Whatever the case, the Sharks are once again a great team on paper that could challenge for the Cup, but probably won't. Welcome to every season.