As you all have noticed, it’s been somewhat of a strange offseason to say the least. The Sharks management has pissed off the entire fan base by signing John Scott, resigning Mike Brown, and adding Ice Girls this season. They’ve also confused everyone (including themselves) as to what the hell their plan is exactly. But worst of all, they’ve effectively alienated their best players, first by saying to the media that they wanted players who “wanted to play here, not just live here,” then by trying to trade said players even though they have contracts with no-trade clauses.
Then, as we’ve all heard this week, the Sharks stripped Jumbo of the captaincy, and once again, the Sharks have a team without a captain (and no As at the moment either).
But even with all that, I don’t think the Sharks are as screwed as everyone thinks they are. Here’s my case for the Sharks this season.
The players can now play for each other.
More so than ever before, the players have a reason to band together and lay it all out there on the ice. It’s obvious the management and coaches don’t have their back anymore, so who are they to impress?
Don’t get me wrong. The way this offseason has been going is disastrous, but there’s one silver lining in all of this that is getting overlooked: the players now have common enemies. It doesn’t matter who wears the C or the A, the players now can at least come together and play for each other. Forget the GM and the business end of it all; now is the time to prove all the doubters within the organization wrong. The motivation is there, the wound is fresh. Now let’s just hope the attitude is, too.
Vlasic can and should be the captain.
Many out there will disagree with me, but nobody is more important to this Sharks’ roster than Marc-Édouard Vlasic. If you need evidence, please see Games 5, 6, and 7 of the Kings series after he was knocked out.
“Pickles” is a Norris-caliber defensemen, who last season had the fourth-highest relative corsi among all defensemen in the league.
Forget about the numbers for a second, though. Without diving into the statistics, it’s easy to see how much Vlasic was able to help develop the young defensive core-guys for San Jose, most notably Justin Braun, Jason Demers, and Matt Irwin (although Matt Irwin’s success could be more linked to playing with Dan Boyle). This young, defensive unit is not going to back down this season, and should continue to drive play the other way.
Which is a great segue into another reason the Sharks are going to be fine.
The defense is still top 5 in the league.
Based on my opinion, that is. The Sharks management did have a great transaction this offseason by shipping Brad Stuart off to Colorado, somehow even getting a 2nd and 6th round pick out of the deal. Regardless of how DW has handled the Thornton/Marleau situation, the dude just knows how to get returns. It’s a great example of addition by subtraction, as Stuart was more turnover prone than most guys you want moving the puck.
Brent Burns is moving back to D, which I’m not thrilled about, but it should be ok. I loved the Burns-Thornton-Hertl (or Pavelski) line, thought they just dominated all season. So it will be less firepower on the top line without Burnzie throwing his body around. Butt check anyone?
Mirco Mueller is a young draft pick who could potentially make an immediate impact, and solidify our top six.
That lineup is pretty not bad.
Alex Stalock is good, and should push for the starting role. There’s really no bad news that could come of this. He either pushes Niemi to get better (good), or he challenges for the starting job (also good).
Former Shark fan-favorite Devin Setoguchi signed with Calgary for one year at $750,000. Mike Brown is set to make $1.15 million this season. I would have loved to see Seto back on Jumbo’s wing.
Also, John Scott is set to make $700,000 this season, only $50,000 less than Setoguchi’s new deal.
Even though everything sounds bad so far, the Sharks essentially have the same roster as last season, and in case you don’t remember, they were pretty good. Let’s keep our heads up, Sharks fans. It’s not going to be as bad as it sounds.