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Everything Seems Possible
They'll be a reason to cheer in 2013-14
10/1/13 - By Ryan Hall -

As the last days of training camp draw to a close, the regular season looms ahead full of unknowns. While each segment of the NHL year has its own charm, nothing can beat the universal optimism that exists during these last few days of September. Everyone feels good about where they are. Everyone thinks they have a chance.

Unfortunately, for most teams this won't last longer than the first month, but how much can you really tell about a team in the first 15 games?

For San Jose, historically the beginning of the season has been feast or famine. In the 22 years of the Sharks existence, the team has only been within 3 games of .500 7 times, meaning that streakiness out of the gate is the norm. Surprisingly, the magic number for the team has always been 4, as no Sharks team with at least that many wins in their first 15 has failed to qualify for the post-season. With that being said the McLellan-Era Sharks have been notoriously fast starters, and those early wins have paved the way for successful regular seasons.

While the majority of fans would gladly trade some of those early wins for a couple more in the playoffs, the accomplishments of the regular season deserve to be celebrated. As age begins to catch up with several of the mainstays on the Sharks roster, several impressive career milestones come into view, with 2013-14 offering some reachable targets for several players.

(Note: projections are based on averages from the past 3 seasons)

Patrick Marleau - The Sharks all-time leading scorer enters the season needing 43 assists for 500 and 39 points to hit the 900 career mark. While assists could be a stretch, the total points mark should easily be within reach.

Logan Couture - Couture begins the year with 3 milestones well within each, as he needs 11 goals for 100, 22 assists for 100, and 33 points for 200. These are all makeable, and should come in short order.

Joe Thornton - Jumbo Joe starts play with a number of plateaus close at hand, needing 13 assists for 800 career, 19 goals for 350, 82 points for 1200, and strangely 11 PIMS for 1000. While points and goals would require a renaissance season from Thornton, the PIM and Assist marks should fall early on.

Martin Havlat - I feel like just writing about him is likely to cause an injury, but Havlat sits 43 points shy of 600 for his career. That number's well within reach, but only if he can stay healthy!

Joe Pavelski - Much like his namesake, Pavelski is closing in on some milestones being 14 assists away from 200, and 64 points shy of 300. The helpers should come before Christmas, though the points will mean matching his production from a couple years ago.

Dan Boyle - While he probably won't get the 18 goals he needs for 150 career, the 7 assists (400) and 21 games (900) should be easy to find.

Antti Niemi - Nemo enters play close to 2 different marks as with 7 more wins he'll have 100 as the Sharks netminder, while 30 wins will give him 150 overall. The first should hopefully come within the first month, while the second will depend more on how the team itself performs.

Brad Stuart - Stuart sits 76 games short of 1000 for his career, a total which he'll reach in March barring injury. He's also 13 assists short of 250, which is right on his season average as of late.

Scott Hannan - Like Stuart, Hannan is closing in on 1000 career games with 59 more needed for the personal record. Also, he's 2 points shy of 200 for his career, but as he only recorded one all of last season it might take him a while to get to there.

So what does this all mean?

While stats are for losers, right now no one really knows what the 2013-14 San Jose Sharks will look like. The point is that whether they light up the league, or dwell near the bottom fans will have something to celebrate this year. Hopefully these milestones will fall en route to a parade in June celebrating the franchise's first Stanley Cup. Of course this is September still, and right now everything seems possible.

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