SAN JOSE SHARKS
LAST SEASON: 46-29-7, 99 points. Third place Pacific Division. Lost to Edmonton in first round.
COACH: Peter DeBoer (third season, 10th NHL season).
PLAYER TO WATCH: Joe Thornton. The Sharks brought back the 38-year-old Thornton on an $8 million deal with hopes that he will boost his production from a year ago. Thornton had seven goals and 43 assists last season for his fewest points in an 82-game season since 1998-99. Thornton missed the final week of the regular season and the first two playoff games with a left knee injury before returning for the final four games of a first-round loss to Edmonton. He then underwent surgery to repair his MCL and ACL after the season but believes he is even stronger this season.
OUTLOOK: The core is still strong with Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns, shutdown D Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Fs Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture. But if the Sharks are able to make up for the loss of Marleau's 27 goals and go deeper in the playoffs than they did a year ago they will need bounce-back seasons from players like Tomas Hertl, Mikkel Boedker, Joonas Donskoi and Chris Tierney, and someone to emerge from a group of youngsters led by Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Danny O'Regan.