The 2021 NHL season is ripe with uncertainty, with an expected divisional realignment coming soon.
The Sharks didn’t make the playoffs out of the Pacific Division last season and their road back to the playoffs might be even harder this year if they are placed in the league’s toughest division, as expected.
According to hockey broadcasting legend Doc Emrick, San Jose’s postseason chances lie with the depth of their team, starting between the pipes with veteran goalie Devan Dubnyk. The Sharks acquired the 34-year-old from the Minnesota Wild this offseason to push Martin Jones, who showed some signs of wear and tear last year.
“The role players are the ones that don’t get as much [playing time] but have to contribute so much,” Emrick told NBC Sports California last week. “That’ll make the difference, I think, whether they’re in [the playoffs] or whether they’re out. But I think adding Dubnyk will make a big difference.”
Gone is Aaron Dell, who signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Dubnyk has plenty of experience under his belt but struggled last season before losing his starting spot to Alex Stalock down the stretch.
Likewise, Emrick said the team’s backup forwards also need to produce.
“The real difference that separates the team at the top and the team that’s fourth, or maybe a couple points out, is those depth players at forward,” Emrick said.
But when you look at the Sharks’ top line, Emrick said the team appears to be in good shape.
“The fact that you have Timo Meier, who was the leading point-getter, and Evander Kane, who was the leading goal-scorer, on the same line, with Logan Couture, probably, will make a big difference,” Emrick said.
If you want to read more about his legendary career and how he came from a small Indiana town to become the voice of hockey, check out Doc Emrick’s new book “Off Mike.”