2011-12 San Jose Sharks UFAs: Grading Colin White and Jim Vandermeer
It was heavily misunderstood by a couple commenters. I never said his problems were not in some way systematic (San Jose: Where Penalty Killers Die) or circumstantial (what his wife was going through) or certainly that he's not a solid player.
But I did refer to him and two others as "ice-time vampires taking up roster space." Sounds pretty harsh until you break it down.
The Sharks are an aging team with a dearth of future stars. But they have an abundance of talent just good enough to play in the NHL. They could field two extra lines and pairs below those who are active with players who have NHL experience.
Most of these players are young and could develop into something with more playing time. But they are trapped behind the caravan of veterans the team uses in a rotation for the fourth line and sixth defender.
How much of a difference would Moore, a player whose best years are behind him, make over T.J. Galiardi—one potential young player who he might be chosen over. I will tell you how much of a difference—at least a half million in the wrong direction.
Otherwise, maybe Galiardi lets in one or two more goals, or maybe he scores two to four more. But whatever the case, the Sharks can ill afford to ignore their future any longer. They have to stop signing veterans who provide less upgrade than they cost compared to young talent they're keeping off the ice.
Moore held the most players back, as there were six comparable forwards younger than him. But the other two ice-time vampires bring less to the table than Moore.
The Sharks signed both to one-year, $1 million contracts last summer. It was thought they would compete for time on the final pair, and to some extent, that was what happened: White was paired with Justin Braun and Vandermeer with Jason Demers, and the pair playing better was dressed.
But ultimately, that sixth defenceman was San Jose's weakness.
Here's a look at the good, bad and ugly truth about each veteran's game...
Colin White: The Good
Colin White is a veteran whose physicality and shot-blocking made him among the best penalty killers since the lockout. That's why the San Jose Sharks wanted him.
In 54 games, he was able to finish just three hits behind second place on the Sharks blue line, yet finished with just 21 penalty minutes. He was third in blocks per game on arguably the best team in the league at getting in front of the puck, as every team with more blocks faced more shots.
White was also brought in for his Stanley Cup experience, and it showed. Even though he's a stay-at-home defenceman, he was one of just six Sharks to score a goal in the postseason despite playing just three games.
Colin White: The Bad
The San Jose Sharks broadcasting team likes to point out that Colin White finished the season strong.
Compared to how he started the season, yes. Compared to what the Sharks needed out of the veteran on their last pair, no. Eventually, even coach Todd McLellan had to accept that and play both youngsters more often than not.
White turned over the puck 25 times despite barely handling it. He scored just four points and was minus-five. His goal in the playoffs came with the Sharks down three in the third, so it was more circumstantial than critical.
Colin White: The Ugly Truth
Even what Colin White was good at was not that good.
He may have been the second-best hitter on the San Jose Sharks blue line, but they were the fourth-lightest hitting team in the league. They were counting on White, Douglas Murray and one forward per line to get it done, but 65 hits in 54 games can hardly be characterized as physical.
White also failed to help a penalty kill that finished even lower this season than last. He showed terrible judgment and/or poise in his own end, and too many of those giveaways ended up in the back of the net.
Combined with his lack of speed, he was a liability in the only end he could play in. About to turn 35 in December, it's more likely he will be worse than better next season.
Unfortunately, there are only five NHL defencemen under contract for San Jose. There are no minor leaguers who appear ready to take his place or that he would hold back by being re-signed.
Thus, it could make sense for the Sharks to sign him to a league-minimum contract to be their eighth or perhaps seventh defenceman. If you're counting on any real playing time from him, you're not going anywhere, in which case, why sign a player in his mid-30s?
Jim Vandermeer: The Good
In recent years, the opposition has been able to take liberties with the San Jose Sharks. Team Teal has at times lacked the deadly efficiency of the Detroit Red Wings to exploit resulting power-plays and has never had the intimidating presence of teams like the Anaheim Ducks to deter such actions.
The Sharks were not lacking for players willing to fight. They simply have lacked players who could consistently hold their own in bouts.
Jim Vandermeer was brought in as much for that role as his ability to defend (including again on the penalty kill). He was one of three players involved in more than one fight who did not lose most of the time.
He was also versatile enough to play on the blue line or as a forward. He was smart with the puck, having six takeaways and only seven giveaways and going plus-three. He took only four minor penalties all season.
Jim Vandermeer: The Bad
The San Jose Sharks only dressed Jim Vandermeer 25 times all season. They only played him 10:24 on average when he was in uniform.
We can debate all we want about whether he should have been given more opportunities than Colin White. The reality is that just like his fellow veteran, he was not that good even in the strongest parts of his game.
A stay-at-home defender needs to have more than one blocked shot every 26 minutes and one hit every 20. Even a checking line forward needs more than one goal and three assists.
Also, while Vandermeer held his own in more than half his fights, he still only won one. Teams are not as intimidated by someone who can only fight his way to a draw.
Jim Vandermeer: The Ugly Truth
Jim Vandermeer is just a guy.
Whether he plays on the San Jose Sharks blue line or as a forward, he provided very little to the team. We may not remember him for bad plays like Colin White's giveaways, but he also did not make any plays on either end of the ice.
Being just a guy is fine if you are in your 20s, and there's reason to believe you're developing your game. But Vandermeer will turn 33 after the All-Star break next season, so the Sharks should expect even less from him next season.
If the Sharks have him on their active roster for most of the season, they're in trouble. They again have too many young options who might be as good or better by the end of the season.
Of course, being a veteran who is just a guy is fine if the team expects you to be in the press box instead of on the ice. Because he can play two positions, Vandermeer is an ideal 23rd man on the roster in case of emergencies, so long as the price is right (i.e. less than he made in 2011-12).