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Meier finished 2021-22 down to just one point per game in the most productive season of his six-year career. Reaching both 35 goals (35) and 40 assists (41) for the first time, Meier finished 42nd in league scoring, rounded out with the 27th most goals in the NHL. Meier’s escape can be attributed to his increased shot volume. His 13.3 SOG/60 was considerably higher than his career average of 10.7 SOG/60. As a result, he finished third in the league, behind only Alex Ovechkin (334) and Auston Matthews (348). Expect Meier to lead the Sharks in nearly every fantasy category while providing stellar shooting production. He will be looking to replicate his success from last year with over 30 goals and over 40 assists. His supporting cast is lacking, but his punching volume is hard to convey in the fourth round of drafts.
Hertl’s 2021-22 campaign is aligned with its output from the previous three seasons. During that time, he averaged 33 goals and 39 assists (72 points) in 82 games but missed 33 games. Last year he played in all 82 games and finished with 30 goals and 34 assists (64). Hertl is a consistent 30-30 threat, with an added advantage while playing alongside Meier most of the time. His first ADP (158.4) is near the end of the draft, so he’s a stable center option to round out your roster.
Like his entourage, Couture had a rebound year in 2021-2022. Surpassing the marks of 20 goals (23) and 30 assists (33) for the first time since 2018-2019, Couture ranked 100th in league scoring. He was poised to be fantasy relevant, but his minus-11 rating did little to help his ownership record. Expect a similar 50-point season as the 33-year-old’s best fantasy production could be long behind him. Still, he’s a solid free-agent plug-in or bottom-of-your-list item due to his high-profile position in the Sharks’ roster.
Barabanov was solid in his first full NHL season, scoring 10 goals and 29 assists in 70 games. His 39 points were good for fifth among all San Jose Sharks. His overall fantasy production has been capped due to his lack of shots (103 SOG), something he will need to work on to improve his overall numbers. Nonetheless, he finds himself in a fantastically great position as he likely lines up alongside Hertl and Meier with very few threats below him on the depth chart. His KHL numbers suggest he might be a player flirting with a 50-point season, but he’s not a scorer. Modest goal tallies with over 30 assists are a likely outcome for Barabanov in 2022-23. He makes a late roster selection or a free agent flyer if he proves he can keep up the high-level work in his sophomore season.
Karlsson was once the consensus No. 1 fantasy defender on the draft boards. We got a rare glimpse of the first Karlsson in 2021-22. Before his mid-season surgery, he produced at a high rate with eight goals and 18 assists in his first 33 games. Among the league’s defensive leaders at the start, his 0.79 ppg paces over a full 82-game season would have taken him around the 65-point range. This is the kind of production we saw of him in his mid-twenties. Unfortunately, his return from injury has seen him pick up just seven points in his last 17 games. Regardless of the weak comeback during the streak, Karlsson had his best goal production since 2016-17, as his 10 goals in 50 games kept him on pace at 16.5 over an entire 82-game season. With Brent Bruns shipped to Carolina this offseason, Karlsson should have PP1 all to himself. Even a small bump in PP production would make Karlsson a dark horse pick this season. However, the biggest concern remains its durability.
Labanc 2021-22 has been bogged down by injury, and a season the 26-year-old winger would probably prefer to forget. A double-digit scorer five times in his career, Labanc has three goals and three assists in 21 games. His 0.285 points/GP was 462nd among players with at least 20 games played, which is the lowest production of his six-year career. Labanc has failed to eclipse 33 points the past three seasons, but he enters 2022-23 with a chance of earning a top-6 berth for the Sharks, which would go a long way towards getting him back to over 50. points.
Big game James Reimer finds himself a small shark in a vast sea that will try to tread water behind a San Jose team that was in the bottom 10 of the xGA/60 a season ago. Reimer had a strong first season with the Sharks in 2021-22, enjoying something of a career renaissance after 11 seasons in the NHL. Playing in a career-high 48 games, Reimer’s 19 wins were his highest tally since 2017-18. His .911 SV% was tied for 22nd among qualified starters and his GAA (2.90) was 29th. Expect Reimer to fail to reach the 20 win mark for the fifth straight season and draft with caution as Kaapo Kahkonen will be battling with him for playing time all season.
Kahkonen found himself Minnesota’s odd man out in the 2021-22 season after Marc-Andre Fleury was brought in at the trade deadline. As a result, Kahkonen was dealt to the Sharks and signed a two-year extension in the offseason. Kahkonen enjoyed statistical success during his short 11-game stint with the Sharks, posting a 2.86 ERA and 0.916% SV. Kahkonen has been on the smaller side of a 60-40 split the past two seasons but could be in a 50-50 pack with Reimer this season. Still, the Sharks were bottom 10 in both xGF/60 and xGA/60 last season, so you’ll have to choose your matchups wisely for either Sharks starter.