Shark-Infested Blogger

May 26, 2010 7:40 PM

Sharks Face Changes in Offseason

I do not envy Doug Wilson.

Two months ago, with the Sharks mired in a seven-game losing streak, it looked much easier: Dump everyone over 30 but Dan Boyle and start over. Much the same could be said after the team looked listless offensively in dropping two of three to the depleted and over-matched Colorado Avalanche.

But both times, the Sharks righted the ship. They went 8-1-1 down the stretch in the regular season after the losing streak, and 7-1 after their weak start in the playoffs, including vanquishing the two-time conference champion Detroit Red Wings.

So now you keep as much of the team together as possible, right? After all, the Sharks were having the best post-season run in franchise history, were the top remaining seed, and were playing better than any other team still alive.

Then Antti Niemi happened, and Dustin Byfuglien happened. Four straight losses happened, leaving the truth--as is generally the case--between the extremes.

3533132823_77f5bfe0b9.jpgThe Sharks have the following restricted free agents to look at re-signing, in order of importance: Joe Pavelski (eligible for arbitration), Devin Setoguchi, Brad Staubitz, Derek Joslin, Steven Zalewski, Henrik Karlsson, Daniel Rahimi, and Matt Jones. The latter three never played in San Jose, and Joslin and Zalewski saw very limited time.

The Sharks also have the following unrestricted free agents, in order of significance to the team: Patrick Marleau, Evgeni Nabokov, Rob Blake, Manny Malhotra, Scott Nichol, Jed Ortmeyer, Dwight Helminen, Niklas Wallin, Jay Leach, Ryan Vesce, Joe Callahan, and Frank Doyle. Doyle was the only one not to receive playing time in San Jose, but Leach, Callahan, and Vesce have not played much in their careers.

That leaves a total of 20 free agents, 16 of whom saw action for the San Jose Sharks in 2009-10; 12 were significant players in either the regular or post-season. There are 21 Sharks under an NHL contract for 2010-11, but only 13 played at that level during last season, three of whom did not receive ample playing time in either the regular or post-season.

In other words, there are slightly more significant players the team would have to re-sing to keep than they will not need to re-sign. That adds up to one busy off-season.

And that is not all. Those players under contract may need to be reviewed, as well. For instance, after the Colorado series, no matter what was being said publicly, I guarantee management was picturing what kind of trade scenarios for Joe Thornton would be acceptable.

That is why over the next month leading up to the draft, I will be examining each player on the roster, grade their performance for the season (with the playoffs as a final exam--a major part of the single grade), and determine whether the team should attempt to keep them on the roster. Expected salary requirements will make all impossible to sign, given the team's position tight against the cap.

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