The San Jose Sharks lost on the Niklas Hjalmarsson sweepstakes, but are not out of options. Aside from potential trades, there are are a couple of good unrestricted free agents who could be
the answer. Unfortunately, most will likely make more than what the
Sharks offered Hjalmarsson, provide fewer assets, or both.
Here are those options in order of value:
- Willie Mitchell, if he can prove he is healthy after
concussion symptoms kept him out for Vancouver's stretch run and
playoffs last season, has only once scored more than 14 points in a
season but is a fantastic, physical stay-at-home defender. It is
possible his injury could make him available at a bargain, in which case
the team would be wise to pursue him.
- Kim Johnsson also missed Chicago's run with a concussion and could be available at a discount. Johnsson is a solid, veteran contributor on both ends of the ice who can be counted on for a point every two to three games.
- Shaone Morrison is a former first-round pick but was the odd-man
out in Washington. However, this does not mean he is not valuable; he
is the model of consistency: In each of the last five seasons in the
nation's capital, he has played in 68-80 games, scored 10-14 points,
and finished plus-three to plus-eight. At 27, he also could be a solid
fourth defenceman for years to come.
- Mike Mattou has missed only 11 games in the last three years for New Jersey and scored 15-18 points all three times. He is plus-10 for his career and might well be cost-effective enough because the 32-year old is not flashy, but would likely battle Jason Demers for the fourth defenceman status in San Jose.
- Andy Sutton may be willing to come back to San Jose for a price lower than his worth. While he offers almost nothing offensively, he uses his big body well for shot-blocking and checking, and likely would still be better than either Niclas Wallin or Kent Huskins.