The San Jose Sharks are currently sitting in third place in the Pacific Division, behind the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. Only four points separate these three California rivals. Two of them will end up playing each other in the first round while the team in first place looks like they will end up playing a Central Division team. Given the Sharks history against the Kings and Ducks in the playoffs, their best bet would be to avoid them both in the first round. They'll need to capture the division title to do that.
Feeding the Sharks
Regardless if the Sharks win the Pacific or not, they will be in the playoffs, and they will be a contender. After missing the playoffs last year, most people thought they would enter some form of a rebuild. Instead, GM Doug Wilson brought in reinforcements to bolster the core led by the ageless Joe Thornton. The rest of the core is made up of Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun, and Tomas Hertl. Wilson brought in Martin Jones to be the team's new starting goalie, Joel Ward to compliment the top-six forward group, and Paul Martin to round out the top-four on defense. On top of the personnel coming in, the leadership structure was changed when new Head Coach Peter DeBoer was hired. Marleau was stripped of a letter for the third time in his career. Pavelski was named the captain with Couture and Thornton as the alternates.
All of these additions left the Sharks in a great position before the trade deadline which allowed Wilson to bolster his group again. He added Roman Polak and Nick Spaling from the Toronto Maple Leafs in one trade. He then added James Reimer, also from the Leafs, to be the reliable back-up goalie that the Sharks never had. All of these additions show fans the faith that Wilson has in this team and also that he's aware of the window closing. While Thornton hasn't exactly slowed down this season, Marleau started taking steps back last year and seems to be continuing that trend. A Thornton-less Sharks is going to be hard to win a Cup, with so the time is now. Elite first-line centers don't come around often.
The Sharks are only nine points away from reaching their point total last season and there's still 18 games to be played. It's pretty safe to say that the Sharks will surpass that significantly and punch their ticket to the postseason. The Vancouver Canucks would have to catch up to the Sharks to prevent the playoffs from the Sharks' future. It's not very likely that the 64-point Canucks catch up to the 80 point Sharks.
All of the additions made to the Sharks in the past year have really set up the team to do well in the postseason. Is it Cup or bust for Wilson? Probably not, but if they don't get out of the first or second round, he might be having to look for work elsewhere.