This Sharks' season has been difficult to comprehend, predict and digest.
There’s no denying the gap between expectations and reality, which is the blatant storyline of the campaign thus far for the team and most of its players.
Having said that, there’s also a group of select individuals, somewhat flying under the radar, who have met or exceeded expectations in the first 42 games:
Goodrow already has matched his career-high 17 points from last season, and still shows plenty of tangible upside for a player cementing his spot in the NHL. Goodrow has played wing and center this season, up and down the lineup. That versatility -- from the same forward who played 60 NHL games in 2014-15, but was relegated to the minors most of the next two seasons -- is valuable.
There’s no question where he belongs now, on pace to play in all 82 games for the second season in a row.
Ferraro has become an every-game player for the Sharks in his rookie campaign. It was supposed to be a first-half where multiple young players like Ferraro were given significant roles and made great strides.
However, only the defenseman wearing No. 38 has emerged to become a regular in the lineup. While there are rare examples of learning-on-the-job moments, they are far overshadowed by Ferraro’s raw ability, potential and prowess without the puck.
Dell has given the Sharks options most teams don’t have. In October and November, it was the ability to provide Martin Jones some rest without lessening San Jose's chances at victory. Here in December and January with fresh slates of a new coaching staff, Dell has surged and possibly launched himself into the starting role.
There’s no question the goalie situation has escalated into a healthy competition, of which Dell currently holds the upper hand.
Šimek has been hindered at times by a knee injury suffered last season, but there’s no denying his impact when participating, when the Sharks are 13-5-2. That’s 13 of their 18 wins, and he hasn’t even played half the team’s games.
It doesn’t make sense that any single player could yield that kind of difference, but the sample size and effect speak for themselves. With responsible tendencies and a distinct physical element to his game, Simek just seems to be that piece that helps the rest of the blue line’s puzzle fit.
Dillon's name can get lost in the star power of San Jose’s defensive corps, but make no mistake, it’s his predictability and flexibility that have often helped the Sharks figure out the pairings that work best.
“Dilly” widely is known as one of the nicest and most liked teammates in the dressing room, yet is also routinely the first to drop the gloves when situations require on the ice. He also is the team leader in hits each of the last four seasons.