Picking up pieces and an update on Michalek

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Picking up pieces and an update on Michalek – The San Jose Mercury News Sharks Hockey Blog -:


No need to remind this group that the GM will have to make some important decisions sometime during the next few weeks. You’ve already touched on several things that are likely to be on the table, so I’m not going into any of that at this point.

Here, however, is a list of which players are free agents as of July 1, both unrestricted and restricted. They are:

UNRESTRICTED: Curtis Brown, Brian Campbell, Sandis Ozolinsh, Dmitri Patzold, Tomas Plihal, Patrick Rissmiller, Jeremy Roenick, Alexei Semenov.

RESTRICTED: Ryane Clowe, Christian Ehrhoff, Marcel Goc, Joe Pavelski.

I think you add Boucher to the list of unrestricted.

the Sharks are a damn good team, but it’s clear changes need to be made for the team to get better.

Here are my thoughts:

Goal:

I’d like to see Nabokov backed off to 60-65 games next year (his going to the world championships notwithstanding). Rest him a bit more, keep him a bit fresher.

If that means bringing back Boucher, or someone else, so be it. If Greiss or Patzold is ready for some serious NHL time, great. but let’s ride Nabby a bit less next season.

Forwards:

Some tough calls to be made.

Core group (do not touch under penalty of death):

Thornton
Marleau
Pavelski
Mitchell
Grier
Clowe
Setoguchi

Not coming back:

Curtis Brown (Sorry, Brownie, but I think it’s time).

Players I expect back, but which aren’t “no trade under any cirucmstance” types (as part of the right deal? sure):

Tomas Plihal
Patrick Rissmiller
Jody Shelley
Marcel Goc

I want to see come back:

Jeremy Roenick

Players I’d consider trading:

Milan Michalek
Jonathon Cheechoo

I think there needs to be some shuffling on the front lines, and it can’t be 3rd/4th line guys. To me, the guys hwho are sometimes scary-awesome and sometimes missing are Mchalek and Cheechoo. They don’t seem to be clicking into the system and chemistry of the team consistently. both should have strong market value, and could bring back a top 6 forward. Of perhaps an upgrade at D, if that’s what is wanted. I don’t think we need to trade both, but I’d listen for offers for either and take one that makes sense.

Not JUST to shake up the top six chemistry a bit (and I think it needs it), but so that there’s a quiet message to the locker room that if they don’t find a way to win, they could be next. Even if you’re a top player and fan favorite. Soemtimes, it’s about sending a message.

For someone who felt Marleau should be dealt at the trade deadline, I’m convinced. he’s not leaving, not as long as I’m GM. he might become another Steve Yzerman (and if he does, Ron Wilson’s tough love, that some want his ass fired for, is a good part of the reason why. it was touch adn go for a while, but I think he guessed right in the way he handled Marleau).

I’d hate to see either go. But I think one of them needs to.

A top six of thornton-clowe-cheechoo and marleau-pavelski-setoguchi? that’s not exactly terrible…

Defense:

Core group (do not touch under penalty of death):

Douglas Murray (what an improvement this year!)

Matt Carle (struggled at times, but seems to be growing into it; I’d hate to give up too soon)

M-E Vlasic (wow; at his age?)

Craig Rivet

I’d like to see back:

Brian Campbell (but not for Phaneuf money; if someone wants to pay him that, be my guest. he’s missing that “punk brat” aspect to his game, which keeps him a rung below Phaneuf on the ladder. But $25m over 5 years? sure. Just not $30 over 5.

hint: I expect Campbell to stay. He seems happy. He likes playing 30 minutes a game. Why screw it up?

Not coming back:

Sandis Ozolinsh: thanks, Sandis. for everything.

Alexei Semenov: ditto. Neither of these are NHL caliber in today’s NHL.

Kyle McLaren: love his guts and drive, but his knees are problematic. I think it’s time to consider an upgrade.

going into the season, the D core was one of the question marks. Bringing on Semenov and Ozolinsh indicated to me the Sharks were worried about depth, too. And to soem degree, that’s where the Sharks fell short this year, despite bringing on Campbell. So we need to continue upgrading this part of the team. but when I talk about replacing McLaren, it’s not with a kid for worcester or a role player, it’s a top-4 defenseman. This is not about bringing up kids and growing them into roles, it’s about finishing a team almost over the hump.

So going into next year, I’m suggesting one key deal (Cheechoo or Michalek for a defensive upgrade, or a top-4 forward). Only two positions don’t have likely candidates named, one on D (we only have five that make “my” team) and the backup goalie, assuming the right people come back. And black aces but I’m not worried about that.

On D, the kind of player I’d think of targetting is a Mike Commodore or a J-Michael Liles. Maybe someone like Ron Hainsey, or a Steve Montador. all in their mid 20’s, all solid players with upside in the right players.

One thing I can guarantee: Doug Wilson will do something completely different than this, and when he does, I’ll go “wow, I never would have thought of that” and like it. Whcih is why he’s GM, and I’m a blogger…

This entry was posted in Sports - Hockey.
  • Geoff Galat

    Chuq,
    Nice thoughtful commentary. Question – your defense group does not mention Ehrhoff. Where do you (or not) see Christian? I thought he had a very good regular season, and a miserable playoffs. Not sure how much his late season injury affected him in the postseason, but he was scary-shaky in Game 5 vs. Dallas. That said, i really liked his game this year.

  • Lev

    Ya, you didn’t mention anything about ehrhoff besides being a RFA. I feel that ehrhoff consistently made bad decisions in the playoffs. but the market for D is too small to give him up.

  • Cardinal Fang

    Ehrhoff?

  • Josh

    I personally don’t think you trade Milan. I think they need to change the way they play to make better use of the team speed, and Milan is the one of the most explosive guys on the squad. If anything, I’d like to see a second Michalek on the team, as Milan’s brother would fill that defense hole, even if it is dreaming to think a trade like that would happen in the same division. As I mentioned in a comment earlier, the Sharks sagging defense doesn’t generate the kind of turnovers that get Milan going with his explosive speed often enough.
    Cheechoo is a more interesting candidate. Taking this year out, since he was clearly not 100% after sports hernia surgery the first two thirds, you have a guy who has proven that he’s a gifted goal scorer, even if inconsistant. I’d be wary of trading him, however, as his progress reminds me a lot of another guy who once stormed onto the scene with a 50+ goal season. Iginla went from 31 goals in 2001 to 52 goals and 96 points in 2002. His next three seasons, he had a drop off in production. These last two seasons he’s back over 90 points and this year he had 50 goals again. The comparison gets uncanny when you consider Iginla is 3 years older than Cheechoo, and the 50+ goal explosions happened 3 seasons apart (4 years thanks to the lockout).
    Things like this, I guess, is why I’m not GM too. I tend to think they will change coaches rather than making sweeping player changes, but I’ve been wrong before.