Predicting the San Jose Sharks’ Forward Lines and Stats

4 of 7

Third Line

Jan 16, 2014; Sunrise, FL, USA; San Jose Sharks left wing Matt Nieto (83) celebrates his goal with center Patrick Marleau (12) and center Tyler Kennedy (81) as Florida Panthers defenseman Tom Gilbert (77) reacts in the third period at BB&T Center. The Sharks won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

RW – #81 – Tyler Kennedy – 57 GP – 12 G – 20 A – 32 P – -7 – 14 PIM

C – #15 – James Sheppard – 69 GP – 8 G – 16 A – 24 P – -4 – 10 PIM

LW – #83 – Matt Nieto – 78 GP – 14 G – 18 A – 32 P – +1 – 22 PIM

Why This Works: Sheppard really stepped up last season in the third line center position after Hertl got injured and Pavelski got moved up to the first line to join Thornton and Burns. Expect him to continue to occupy that spot when the season starts.If he does get 24+ points, it will be his highest scoring season in the NHL thus far.

As for the wingers, Nieto is obviously the best remaining option for the LW slot, and as was said on the previous slide, he and Wingels could be flip-flopped depending on how training camp goes for the both of them. This would also be Nieto’s highest scoring NHL campaign if he gets to the 32 point mark.

As I said in my previous article, I expect Kennedy to really excel in camp and earn his spot on the third line. Recently acquired forward Tye McGinn could and should rotate in and out with Kennedy depending on the opponent.