Friday, August 24, 2007

Smelling Offensive and Getting Defensive

After reading about the Michalek signing today, I started to think about what Doug Wilson accomplished this offseason. Lots of Sharks fans, myself included, have been calling for Wilson to make a big splash and shake up the team. We have even gone so far as to suggest he trade the face of the franchise in Patrick Marleau to get help on the blueline. I admit I was intrigued by the prospect of getting a #1 defesemen for Marleau, but after Redden rejected us, the well dried up. We need to keep the Captain, if he were to leave, who would replace his 80 points of offense? Without Marleau, the Sharks attack would truely be "offensive".
I think the line combos are unknown at this point and the roster has too many centers, seven to be exact. I know Marleau can swing to the wing, but that still leaves Goc, Pavelksi, Brown, Rissmiller and Plihal. Something needs to be done there...

As for the defense, I expect big things from Matt Carle this year. He is only 22 and showed early in the season he can dominate the power play. I think a 55 point season from him is not unreasonable. I am expecting an improvement from fellow All Rookie Team member Marc-Edouard Vlasic on the offensive end as well. He has shown more offensive explosion in the past, scoring 73 points in 2005-06 in Juniors. I think we could see him evolve into more than just a "Hannan" stay at home d-man. With these two continuing to progress, McLaren, Rivet and Ehrhoff will provide steady play. In the end, Doug Wilson was wise not to overpay for a one trick pony like Sheldon Souray. He would have been such a black hole in his own end, it would have hurt Carle and Vlasic's developement. I don't think Wilson will stick with Douglas Murray for the sixth defensemen when the season starts. Could a one year deal be in the works for Danny Markov, as rumored by Eklund? Could the Sharks sign a inexpensive vet like Brent Sopel or David Tanabe to fill the hole until 2006 first round pick Ty Wishert is ready (which could be as soon as next year)

Is there one more deal in the works? I think maybe. As I said before, there is a glut at the center position. We have salary cap space to spare, so would a team take a young, promising center like Marcel Goc or Patrick Rissmiller in a package to get a veteran forward off their books? I could see Boston sending gritty winger P.J. Axelsson or Glen Murray in return for some younger players. Just a thought...

In the end, I have decided not to panic, not to be bitter and to enjoy the fact that we have a franchise that has chosen to keep its core together instead of bringing in new players every year in a merry-go-round of overpriced vets (see New York Rangers). I do believe the Sharks can win now with this current roster. In a matter of weeks, we shall see. Hopefull, Marleau will be signed and my new jersey will have arrived!

4 comments:

Mike said...

I don't want to seem like a boo-bird here- I like the Sharks' current makeup, and think they will make the playoffs easily as they stand now.

That being said- you're nuts if you think the Sharks can contend this year for the Cup with this group. I hate NHL conventional wisdom, because it goes out the door once there's a counter-example (like "you need to know how to win in the playoffs"). But teams that make it to the NHL finals generally have good, solid, veteran D. And the Sharks do not have that. Two sophomores, a good young D in Ehrhoff, and two #3-4ish D men in Rivet and McLaren are not a Cup-winning combination. Especially when you have to give good minutes to marginal NHLer in Murray or Davison.

IF we wait a couple of years AND Vlasic AND Carle AND Ehrhoff mature AND Wishart turns into a NHL caliber defensemen we may have something. But as of now, we couldn't get past the Ducks or Wings in the west and Ottawa (at least) in the East. We need a #1 or #2 blueliner like Souray or Visnovsky to compete in the next two years.

Can'tStoptheGrier said...

I agree with you Mike, but I disagree. I think we are better than the Ducks as we stand today. If they lose Niedermeyer and Selanne to retirement, as I expect they will, unless there is a major move made to replace them - Schneider and Bertuzzi do not scare me. Schneider was a benefactor of Lidstrom's power play genius - let's see how he does without him. Bertuzzi is a distraction and overrated now. So the Ducks are sending out Pronger, Schneider, Beauchamin, DiPenta and O'Donnell. Not scary anymore. Will they be good - yes. Are they winning the Cup again - nope.

Would the Sharks be better with Visnovsky - YES! Would we have to give up Marleau to get him in a trade, most likely. After stepping back and looking how damaging this would be to our forwards, I think we have to wait for another option. The long term future looks good. We have to give Carle the opportunity to develop into that 60 point power play quarterback. If he doesn't, we still have the young pieces to make a deal with someone down the road. In another year, this could be a team that is so deep and dominant, they could blow past everyone in the West with their youth, speed and size that have now been together for three years.

Mike said...

It pains me to admit this, but Pronger, Schneider, and Beauchemin are all better than anybody we got.

Can'tStoptheGrier said...

Bust out the anal thermometer. Mikey needs his temp taken.