SAN JOSE SHARKS
LAST SEASON: 46-30-6, 98 points. Third place Pacific Division. Lost to Pittsburgh in Stanley Cup Final.
COACH: Peter DeBoer. (second season, ninth NHL season).
ADDED: F Mikkel Boedker, D David Schlemko, F Marcus Sorensen.
LOST: D Roman Polak, F Nick Spaling, F Dainius Zubrus, G James Reimer.
PLAYER TO WATCH: F Tomas Hertl. Hertl's knee injury in Game 2 of the final against the Penguins played a role in San Jose falling two games short of a championship. The question heading into this season is whether Hertl will be able to carry the third line as a third-line center, which would provide the depth that would make the Sharks a difficult matchup against even the top teams. Otherwise, he can go back to his role as a productive wing alongside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.
OUTLOOK: A year after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2003, the Sharks had their best postseason run ever, making it all the way to the final before losing in six games to Pittsburgh. All the key pieces from that team are back along with the additions of Boedker's speed, Schlemko's improved puck-moving ability compared to Polak and several rookies like Nikolay Goldobin, Kevin Labanc or Timo Meier who could provide a boost. If the new additions provide the spark and the older core maintains its high level from the postseason, the Sharks should be able to contend for a title again.