FHL: First-half busts, so far
Joe Thornton, F, Sharks (No. 6 pick in preseason): It's not like he's having a bad season, as Thornton is on pace for 20 goals and 91 points, comparable to the 20 goals and 92 points he had for the Sharks in 2005-06. Of course, he managed those numbers in only 58 games after his trade from Boston last season, while this year his pace is based on 82 games. Part of the problem is that San Jose's offense hasn't been quite as potent as it was a year ago, ranking 15th in the league with 2.97 goals per game, down from seventh and 3.23. These Sharks have better hockey in them, but they're built more around quality defense and special-teams play this year, which limits the upside of a playmaker type like Thornton. Expect a top-25 finish, but no MVP award for him this time.
Jonathan Cheechoo, F, Sharks (15): Place part of the blame for Thornton's "sluggish" start on Cheechoo, because his inability to finish things off for Thornton is a huge reason why the Sharks lack the offensive bite of the 2005-06 team. I'm not calling out Thornton for his performance as I am Cheechoo, because he's considerably off his pace of a year ago, which helps explain Thornton's slightly lesser numbers. Cheechoo's on track for 24 goals and 49 points in 69 games, down from 56 and 93 in 82 in 2005-06, and now he's averaging more than a shot per game fewer than he did last season, being put in fewer quality scoring situations. There's better here, but it appears the magic is gone.
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