Monday, July 10, 2006

The new era of Mark Bell

The Sharks were involved in a three-team deal with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Ottawa Senators. The Sharks sent Tom Preissing and prospect Josh Hennessy to the Chicago for Mark Bell. The Hawks then sent Preissing, Hennessy, Michel Harinka, and a 2nd round pick to the Senators for Martin Havlat and Bryan Smolinski.

At first, it seems like the Sharks gave up a lot. Preissing had a breakout season with the Sharks, and solidified his position on the power play, and as a top-4 defenseman. I can't comment intelligently on Hennessy at all, but he did average over 1 point per game in the AHL last year.

Mark Bell is a big strong forward who has good hands around the net and can score. He also has averaged over 100 PIMs per year throughout his career, so you know he uses his size. He only scored 5 more points last year than Preissing, but keep in mind two things- he played for the 2nd worst offensive team in hockey (only St. Louis scored fewer) and Preissing got a lot of power play time with Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo, who were point scoring machines on the PP.

Chicago has agreed to terms with Havlat for 3 years and $18M. Smolinski is 34, and can give veteran leadership. It bums me out a bit that we didn't get Havlat, but given how much more Chicago gave up, we probably would have had to ship another one of our good young players as well as Preissing, which Doug Wilson probably didn't want to do.

I haven't seen enough of Mark Bell to really get a bead on how good he can be with the Sharks, but I'm going to try and keep an open mind. The Sharks have now given up two top-4 defensemen in the past year, and not signed any. It seems all the teams that went deep in the playoffs have at least one premier blueliner, and the Sharks are decidedly thin in that department.

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