An Amateur’s Analysis of the Sharks’ Offseason

I’ve been so excited about the upcoming hockey season that I’m literally craving hockey. It probably also has to do with the fact that I’m taking a season off playing hockey myself. I eat up hockey news and even started playing NHL 10 again. I’m currently playing as the Sharks (of course) and in the Conference Finals against the Blues, series tied at 1-1… But anyway, I’ve been following the Sharks’ offseason exploits and decided to write down my opinions. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about hockey, so get ready for some hockey nerd-talk…

Blake Retiring

Rob Blake had a great, hall-of-fame career, and it was great to have him on our team for the last two years. His departure has left a gaping–no, monstrous hole in our defense. The Sharks to date, are still lacking a top defensemen for their top 4.

Boyle
We need another defensemen
as good as this guy.

Murray with Boyle and Vlasic with… Demers?? I don’t see any of our other guys able to step up to this role yet. The Sharks didn’t get Kaberle, they didn’t get Bieksa or scrambled eggs Willie Mitchell…maybe Doug Wilson has plans for a mid-season trade.

The Sharks made and offer on Chicago’s grade-A defensemen, Hjalmarsson, but Chicago put a stop to that, matching the Sharks’ offer. That opened things up for acquiring Niemi, but more on that later…

Re-signing Pavelski

The Big Pavelski could’ve certainly gone to another team for more money–especially after his great performance in the first two rounds of the playoffs–so it’s great to see that he has chosen to stay with the Sharks at a hometown discount. He’s a fan-favorite, and along with Boyle, he’s a popular pick for the C this year. Too soon that on a team full of veterans?

Re-signing Setoguchi

It took a long time for the Sharks to re-sign my favorite Asian on the team, especially when Seto expressed his desire to stay with team. My guess is they were using Seto as trade-bait, but when the free-agent market dried-up, they finally re-signed him. Only for a year though, so after having a not-so-great year, the Sharks are pretty much telling Seto to produce or else… Good news is this keeps the Seto-Pavs-Clowe awesome number 2 line together for another season.

Not re-signing Malhotra

We’ll miss you Manny. Manny did well with his time with the Sharks. He signed with the Sharks at a discounted price ($700k), and because of his performance–and the Sharks’ performance last year, got a whopping raise: 3 years, $7.5 million with the Canucks. It’s too bad we couldn’t keep him, but you can’t blame Manny for not turning down a deal like that.

Nabby
Nabby is sad. (from bleacherreport.com)

Hello Marleau, Bye-bye Nabokov

Marleau was given a new contract. Nabby was not. I really like Nabby. I really, really do. But after years and years of Nabby playing great in the regular season and struggling in key moments in the post-season, I just don’t know if the Sharks could pull it off with Nabby between the pipes. Nabby moved on to the KHL will be a very, very rich man.

Change is good sometimes, and the decision not to re-sign Nabby will be good for the Sharks. They have really good prospects, Greiss, and acquired two more really good goaltenders…maybe too many goaltenders now?

The Greiss-Nitti-Niemi problem

After signing Niittymaki early in the summer, it looked like there would be good goaltending throughout the season divided between him and Greiss. Greiss would finally get some much-needed games played and valuable development. Then along came the signing of Stanley Cup winner, Niemi, shaking everything up. Many doubted this decision, but Randy Hahn’s assessment, heard on the Dudes on Hockey podcast interview, is the best explanation I’ve heard:

“There was an opportunity for Doug Wilson to make the team a better team one more time and I think it was a good move. I think the Sharks are better in-goal than they were a week ago, and he didn’t have to give up any assets except some salary cap space…”

And I agree–pick up a last year’s Stanley Cup goaltender without giving up any players or any draft picks, and at a good price–why not sign him?

So now the Sharks have 3 net-minders competing for the starting job. Are they even going to let Greiss have a chance at the job?

Greiss Niittymaki Niemi
Age 24 30 27
NHL games 19 210 42
Record 7-5-2 83-79-28 27-8-5
Goals Against Avg. 2.77 2.98 2.32
Save Percentage .906 .903 .910
Salary $500,000 $2M $2M

Too many good goalies? That’s not the worst problem to have. Could be worse: we could’ve gotten Turco.

As a side-note, I don’t think DW is the vindictive sort of GM, but the Sharks making an offer on Hjalmarsson totally screwed the Blackhawks. In order to keep him, they had to let go of Niemi, as if they didn’t have enough problems to deal with. They did end up getting Marty Turco for a year, but he’s been a mediocre goalie in his last few years. Combine that with their losing a good amount of their Stanley Cup players, who knows how well the Blackhawks will do in the 10-11 season. They’ll of course still beat down on the Sharks though, since the Sharks historically can’t get the puck past Turco for some reason.

And that about does it I think. The Sharks never did make any earth-shattering deals, save Nabokov being let go (see what I did there?) and getting ahold of Niemi. Besides that, it looks like the team is going to be largely the same.

Lastly, check out my goal last night against the Bruins the Stanley Cup! Marleau uses his speed on a breakaway!

Those are my thoughts and I think besides plugging the hole in defense, we have a really solid team just like last year. Hockey season hurry up and get here already!

Comment via Facebook