Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Aftermath of trades

Now that we've added salary (Rivet and Guerin) and only subtracted a little bit (Gorges, Nieminen, Parker) the Sharks must be pretty close to the upper limit of the salary cap. Salary caps are a very complicated matter, with a truckload of rules, stipulations, regulations, and minutia. But I'm kind of a math geek, so I get off on that stuff. Maybe I should study up and become a "cap guru". Yeah, like I don't have enough to do already.

I'm constantly learning new things about it, and all the details are ridiculously obscure. Maybe someday I'll do my version of 'Salary Cap 101'. Here are a couple of good sites that have information on the cap situation for all NHL teams. The former is a bit easier to read, but doesn't seem to have all the updates the trade deadline brought. I'm sure it will be a little while for it to be current.

Quick Correction: I said in my Ryan Smyth trade post that he is the captain. That's not correct, we wore the 'A', and not the 'C'. Jason Smith is the current captian of the Oilers. For a list of all NHL captains, you gotta love wikipedia.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Nolan Schaefer, stolen

For a 7th round pick to the Pens. I guess the whole Jocelyn Thibeault thing didn't work out so well. Kind of a crappy deal, I think Schaefer had promise. Apparently he was a unrestricted free agent after this season. So the Sharks are planning on keeping both goalies, or they have a lot more confidence in Dmitri Patzold than I thought.

We'll miss you

Scott Parker. Maybe we can bring him back this summer. But now, the most fitting tribute I can think of.

Three Trades, one good for the West, two bad

Maybe the biggest trade today other than the Guerin trade is Ryan Smyth from the Oilers to the Islanders for prospects and a pick. Ryan Smyth was the most recognizable player on the Oilers' roster, and the captain, so trading him sends a huge message to the franchise and fans. The Oilers are currently 9 points out of the playoffs, and the fans seem to think this is is Kevin Lowe throwing in the towel on the season. Keep in mind that Smyth is unrestricted this offseason, so it's not out of the question he would have a triumphant return, but he'll be asking for a significant raise and contract length. This will make playing Edmonton that much easier; keeping Smyth from clogging up the crease is a big job.

But alas, Todd Bertuzzi is coming back to the West. And not to the Blues, to a legit contender, the Red Wings. Bertuzzi hasn't played a single game since he hurt his back last year, so it's a risky deal for Detroit. If the gamble pays off, and Bertuzzi plays the way he did a couple of years ago before the Steve Moore incident, the Wings will be a scary opponent. An opponent the Sharks might have to face in the first round.

Possibly the worst trade from the Sharks' perspective is Mattias Norstrom going to Dallas, another captain on the move. I guess this means the Kings are going to build around Anze Kopitar instead of Norstrom, which is a mistake in my view. So the team nipping at our heels just got a lot better on D. Shit, why didn't we make that deal? I'd take Norstrom over Rivet every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Weirdest Trade

So far the weirdest trade has to be Colorado trading Brad May to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for goaltender Mike Wall. The Ducks have the most fighting majors in the NHL by far. Parros, Shawn Thornton, Travis Moen, and Sean O'Donnell all fight. Why in the hell would they want another fighter? I guess they traded Shane O'Brien, another fighter, to the Lightning last week, so they were running low. Now I guess I'm surprised they didn't go after Laraque too.

Quick Correction

Now the Guerin trade is reported as Guerin for Ville Nieminen, Jay Barribal (prospect playing college hockey at Minnesota) and the 2007 1st round pick we got from the Devils. Nieminen's been a healthy scratch for more games this year than I can count, so we're not exactly giving up the crown jewels here.

Laraque to the East

Georges Laraque has been traded from the Phoenix Coyotes to the Pittsburg Penguins, in return for an 8th round pick and some guy I've never heard of. How the mighty have fallen. At the start of the season, Laraque was playing with Doan on their top line, and I distinctly remember in a Yotes-Sharks game at the Tank looking at the stat sheet, and seeing Laraque leading the team in points. I thought I was in Bizarro world.

But now, apparently Laraque has come back to earth, or has a serious beef with management. He basically got traded for a back of pucks, and waived his no-trade clause. And the Pens got great deal- now they have someone (other than Colton Orr) who can protect Crosby and Malkin. I've never heard anyone utter the words "Colton Orr is a beast", so I say that's definitely an upgrade for the Pens.

Great Start

This is an exciting day in hockey. The trade deadline. Lots of players on the move, new hopes born for teams, and the last chance of contention put to rest. But I have to start with the big deal, again involving the Sharks. Bill Guerin is coming! Sharks trade their remaining first round pick and a "non-roster" player to the Blues for Bill Guerin. Like Rivet, Guerin will be unrestricted in the offseason. But we do add a Stanley Cup winner with 28 goals for no current roster hit. And remember, he played with Joe in Boston. Joe-Bill-Cheech-Carle-Patty on the power play? My heart is already racing.

More deals have already happened, and I'll be adding more posts throughout the day. Still a lot of rumors surrounding Nabby.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Trade Breakdown

So the Sharks did make a deal with the Montreal Canadians over the weekend, but not the one I posted about last, thank God. The trade went down like this- Josh Gorges and the Sharks 2007 1st round pick to the Canadiens for Craig Rivet and a their 2008 5th round pick. The Sharks still have their 1st round pick they got from the Devils for taking on Vladimir Malakhov's cap space.

The worst news about the deal is that Rivet will be unrestricted after this season. But I'm hoping that Doug Wilson has already inquired about locking up Rivet for next season and perhaps beyond. According to the Mercury News article on the trade,

Rivet said one of his first phone calls after the trade will be to his friend Vincent Damphousse, the former Canadiens and Sharks captain, to ask about life in San Jose. "From what I hear, I'm really excited to get down there,'' Rivet said.
This is probably just putting a happy face on the deal, but it makes me feel better than the stuff Joe Thornton said when he was traded. Which was more or less "This is just part of the deal playing in the NHL, and I'll miss Boston." Anyone remember that?

This trade is superior to the rumored Souray deal in several respects. For one, we aren't giving up a top-flight young player. I admire the kid's heart, but I've never been on the Gorges bandwagon. I think he's too small, not physical enough, and lacks the vision of a steady NHL blueliner. Also, we're getting a 'even' player over his career, a long career in which Rivet hasn't scored much. That means he's a solid defensive defenseman, exactly the kind of player we need. I think Souray is clearly the better player, but I'd rather have the focus be on preventing goals rather than creating them.

So let's look at the worst case: Rivet walks after the season. So we would have lost Gorges, and one of our two first round picks. First rounders aren't anything to sneeze at, but given how young kids are drafted, doesn't mean you have a star on your hands. Looking casually at the drafts from about 1998-2004, there seem to be about 5 great-to-star NHL players, with most of them being in the top 5 to 10 picks. The Sharks' pick this year will certainly not be in the top 10. So the changes the Canadiens will turn the pick into a great or star player is probably about even money. I think it's a good gamble for Doug Wilson to take.

Friday, February 23, 2007


I found a trade rumors site, and see this blurb:

"Charles" sends in the following on the Canadiens: "On CJAD radio in Montreal this morning Michael Farber mentioned Sheldon Souray for Matt Carle. According to Farber, a star player on the Sharks said that it was going around the dressing room and was "a done deal". Farber sees Carle as a Chelios-type player, and no one could begrudge Gainey for trading a guy who likely has 20 games left in a Habs uniform - even if he is the top scorer - for a potential franchise defenceman."
I'm not a NHL player, and I'm not a GM, but this trade does not make much sense to me. Ok, I'm friggin biased. But even if I weren't, I don't see much upside here. Matt Carle is a great young defenseman, in the mold of a Chelios or even a Lidstrom- a strong skater with a bit of a scoring touch. Sheldon Souray is a known quantity- a 31-year-old blueliner who can score. But Adam Foote he ain't. Souray has been a minus player most of his career, and plays the point on the PP. He's good for 40 or 50 points a year. Foote is a plus player, who chips in a point every so often- his best season was 31 points. Foote is an older Scott Hannan that hits harder.

How is this an upgrade for the Sharks? Carle could easily reach 40 points this year, his first full year in the NHL. He plays the point on the power play, and can score. But he's only 22. With Ehrhoff, the Sharks have two young D that like to skate and shoot. In my opinion, the Sharks need an Adam Foote a heck of a lot more than a Sheldon Souray. We need steady D that calms the young kids down. We don't need a guy that will jump up in the play and get beat now and again. We have one of those already, and his name is Christian Ehrhoff.

Oh yeah, and Souray will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. If the trade goes down, we could actually be trading a better defenseman now that we can keep for another few years for a guy who could be gone by July. But on the plus side, Souray was married to Angelica Bridges.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Leadership, Panicking, and Gorges

Sometimes I think leadership in sports is just like chemistry- it matters only if you're losing. So the Sharks have gotten thoroughly embarrassed the last few games, getting shutout in both Nashville and Columbus, and only barely showing up in Dallas. It brings one to the question of chemistry and leadership, and if the Sharks have it. Marleau is said to be a silent leader, not one to chastise players in the locker room, and Joe is the same way- he leads by example, and not be speaking out. Grier and Brown are vets who have been there before, but no one on the Sharks today will stand up in the locker room and grab people by the scruff of the neck.

So does that mean the Sharks need to make a move? Sure, the last month has been kinda brutal, but do you trade someone like Bernier or Cheechoo to gear up for the playoffs? As I said in the last post, the Sharks are a young team. Maybe this year isn't their year to win the Cup. But who would have said last year was the Canes' year? You do the best you can, and hope to get hot in the postseason.

I do wonder if there is enough grit in the locker room, and enough experience. Take this quote from Joe Thornton in ESPN The Magazine about Josh Gorges:

Really sensitive young man, ready to give you a hug anytime you feel down. He's just concerned about his teammates. He also watches chick flicks. "The Notebook" is his favorite. And he's secure in that.
I can't say I'm reassured.

Friday, February 16, 2007


So many people are blogging about the Forsberg deal, and I figure I'd pile on. For those in the dark, Forsberg was traded from the Flyers to the Nashville Predators for Scott Upshall, Ryan Parent, a 1st round pick, and a 3rd round pick. Forsberg's contract is up at the end of the year, so it's possible (even likely) that he will only play about 3 months of hockey for the Preds. For which they gave up two players and two good draft picks.

If you put it like that, it sounds like the Preds got robbed. I knew the Flyers were asking a lot, but that's even more than I expected. However, think of it this way- the best team in the NHL just got better. They beat down the Sharks a few nights ago, and have the most points in the NHL. Now they got one of the best players in the game (when healthy) who is playing as good as he's played all season.

The Preds have to win now. Players over 30 - Zidlicky, Vokoun, Timmonen, Sullivan, Nichol, Mason, Kariya, Forsberg, and Arnott. That's more or less the core of the team. Why hold onto those draft picks and players when you can give yourself a good chance to win the Cup?

Sharks players over 30... Brown, Grier, and Nabokov. Not nearly the same situation as Nashville- two third line players and the backup goaltender.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


The Sharks returned to a modicum of respectability last night in winning 3-2. It was an all around better effort than Tuesday. Has anyone else noticed that Milan Michalek is jumping again? It seemed like he had made several power moves in the last few games, after being invisible for the better part of two months. If we can get that second line humming (hopefully Joe Pavelski will be back soon) we will be a lot more dangerous. Marleau playing with Joe makes the #1 more potent, but certainly answers the question as to which line the top D should play against. I think Pronger/Niedermayer were on the ice for every one of Patty's shifts.

Also, I should mention that even though the Sharks are 2-3 against this Ducks this year, they've been outscored 22-13. All the Sharks' victories have been close, and two of the Ducks' victories have been blowouts, amongst the worst the Sharks have had this season.

I must say, the circumstances of the next Ducks matchup don't exactly bode well for the Sharks. It's the first home game after a long road trip. The Sharks are 2-2 after road trips of 3 games and longer. And the Philly win shouldn't really count. I wish I had the data to easily crunch W/L records after long road trips, but I don't feel like poring over the schedules of all 30 teams by hand.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Brutal, Just Brutal

After a fairly good outing against the always-bad Blackhawks on Thursday, the Sharks go completely in the tank (believe me, no pun intended) against the Ducks last night. It was 2-1 after 1, but 6-1 after two periods. The Sharks showed a little pluck in the 3rd en route to a 7-4 loss.

The Ducks are better than the Sharks. It's just that simple. They have better D, better O, better goaltending. The Ducks first line matches up almost even with our first line, but their second line is head and shoulders better than ours. Penner, Getzlaf, and Perry made the Sharks' young D look foolish, and even the third line played well. Travis Moen went right around Marc-Edouard Vlasic on two occasions, scoring on the first, and barely missing on the second. Matt Carle might get sent back to the minors after last night's effort, including an outlet pass that was intercepted between the Sharks' circles, for God's sake. I think Rob Niedermayer thought it was Christmas.

After the Ducks put the game out of reach, they sat back a bit, and the Sharks surged. But even Philly could protect a 5 goal lead, and the Ducks managed. There were several tense moments after Cheech made it 6-4 late in the third, but after inexplicably keeping Toskala in the net on a Sharks power play, the Ducks scored an empty netter as soon as the PP expired. Generally you keep a goalie in net on your power play, because the other team won't get penalized for missing an empty net (no icing on the kill), but in this case, I think the Sharks should have gone for broke. Try and salvage some worth out of the game.

I think I'll be watching tonight's game while peeking through my fingers.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Suck it.

Man, if the last two games are any indication, the Sharks are in trouble. Dallas' top goal scorer has only 16 goals, and their top two points players are defensemen. If you can name their top scorer without looking it up, my hat is off to you. Possibly too easy hint: he has won the Selke.

Anyway, the moral of the past few games is, as the power play goes, so do the Sharks. Their recent stretch is 1-for-32. Doug thinks that Ron Wilson is skating on thin ice, but I think we need to have a bit of a wait-and-see attitude. The upcoming stretch is going to be huge, with a home-and-home against Anaheim, and road games against Nashville, Dallas, and Calgary all in February. If the Sharks continue to stink, maybe they'll pull a Robbie Ftorek. I'm obviously way too emotionally invested in this, but I like Ron Wilson. I think if he got canned and they bring in somebody like Pat Burns or Jacques Demers, it won't be for the better. On one hand, they would install a defensive-minded system, which might help shape up some of the poor defensive efforts (Jonathan Cheechoo -10, I'm looking in your direction), but I think it'll squash some offensive creativity. With young talents like Michalek, Bernier, and Clowe, I want to see them turn into Kovalchuks, not Daigles.