The unit doesn't have a lot of flash and doesn't offer a ton of offense after Boyle, with Matt Irwin second among Sharks defensemen with six goals and 12 points in 38 games.
Boyle led the Sharks with 22 minutes and 47 seconds of ice time per game and Marc-Edouard Vlasic plays relatively mistake-free for his 20 minutes per game. Veterans Hannan and Brad Stuart also fit the mold of what San Jose likes to do at the back end.
Irwin and Justin Braun also continue to improve and the shift of Burns from defense to forward leaves another spot for either Hannan or Jason Demers.
GOALTENDING - While the Sharks face future uncertainty on offense and defense, they appear set in goal thanks to 30-year-old Antti Niemi.
Niemi was a workhorse in his third season with the Sharks, starting 43 games and going 24-12-6 with career bests in goals against average (2.16) and save percentage (.924). He appeared in 2,580:46 of ice time to lead all NHL goaltenders while earning his first Vezina Trophy nomination.
Niemi tied for first in the NHL in wins and the former Stanley Cup winner with Chicago in 2010 continued to be clutch in the postseason. He is 8-1 in playoff overtime games since joining the Sharks.
Few could blame backup Thomas Greiss for bolting to Phoenix in free agency as Niemi doesn't leave many minutes to fill. Alex Stalock and Harri Sateri split time in net last year with Worcester of the American Hockey League and will battle for the reserve role with the Sharks.
WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE - This could be the curtain call for a number of Sharks players this season, but they hope to make it an encore performance that goes deep into the playoffs.
The Sharks stay in the new-look Pacific Division, losing Dallas but gaining Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
Though Thornton, Marleau and Boyle are closer to the end than the beginning of their NHL careers, the trio certainly still have production left in the tank. Head coach Todd McLellan could have them take a back seat this year to the likes of Couture, Pavelski and Niemi as the Sharks transition to the future.
The playoffs are certainly within reach for San Jose, but a run to the Cup Finals may have passed this group by.