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COACH Todd McLellan (4th season)
LAST SEASON 48-25-9 (2nd in West); lost in conference finals to Canucks
KEY ADDITIONS D Brent Burns, C Michal Handzus, RW Martin Havlat
KEY LOSSES RW Dany Heatley, RW Devin Setoguchi
DOUG WILSON has never been afraid to make bold moves. In 2005 the Sharks' G.M. traded for All-Star center Joe Thornton; in '09 he dealt for sniper Dany Heatley; and he let longtime goalie Evgeni Nabokov depart for the KHL after the '09--10 season. So after San Jose fell in the conference finals last spring for the second straight year, Wilson went looking for help and found almost everything he needed in Minnesota.
His additions are a big reason that the Sharks will again be one of the top teams in the West. On June 24, Wilson sent speedy winger Devin Setoguchi, along with a prospect and a first-round pick, to the Wild for Brent Burns, a 6'5", 219-pound defenseman coming off a 17-goal, 46-point season. Burns is a big upgrade for a defensive corps that was solid in 2010--11 but not elite. Nine days later Wilson dealt the expensive Heatley—who scored only five goals in 32 playoff games for San Jose—to Minnesota for winger Martin Havlat, one of the league's fastest forwards.
Wilson was content to give up two of his top wingers for one reason: Logan Couture. The 22-year-old center broke out as a rookie last year with 32 goals and 56 points. He also added depth to the Sharks' enviable stable of forwards. "Logan was arguably our best player in all three zones," Wilson says.
Penciled in by coach Todd McLellan to flank Couture on the second line this season will be Ryane Clowe, who has surpassed 50 points in each of the last three seasons, and Havlat, who figures to be more reliable than the inconsistent Setoguchi. Versatile winger Joe Pavelski will move into Heatley's spot on the top line with Patrick Marleau and Thornton.