For San Jose Sharks fans, the first week of NHL free agency had done nothing to redefine a team that was clearly headed in the wrong direction. Every move Doug Wilson made in the 12 prior months had either had no impact or backfired.
The ledger did not look good. They added Brad Stuart and Adam Burish, but Daniel Winnik, Dominic Moore, Torrey Mitchell, Benn Ferriero, Colin White, Jim Vandermeer and Brad Winchester were no longer on the team's payroll. It is unlikely any of those lost will be signed.
Even though the Sharks have players who can fill those spots, that totals a net loss for a team that needs to gain. There was a lot of smoke surrounding a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for Rick Nash to draw the focus of the public, but it looks now like the fire may have gone out some time ago.
The Sharks have turned their attention to upgrading their coaching staff with an unprecedented two defensive coaches brought in to fix the penalty kill, Larry Robinson and Jim Johnson. They have now also re-signed a forward and extended a defenceman.
With the abundance on the Sharks blue line and lack of young players, Marc-Edouard Vlasic was one potential piece the team could move. But he is off the books now because he has signed a long-term deal. (Details and analysis at the link.)
This should kill the Nash deal. The Sharks will get little or no immediate upgrade trading Logan Couture or Joe Pavelski for the winger to justify losing a good young, cheaper player. No one else will pry Nash from Columbus.
He may stay with his only franchise, the Phoenix Coyotes, if they can get their ownership deal in place soon enough to extend a proper offer. The Detroit Red Wings are strongly pursuing him, having lots of money and gaping holes left by the departure of Jiri Hudler, Nicklas Lidstrom and Stuart.
But unless the Wings are willing to greatly overpay, the Sharks should be able to land him. If the Sharks can exceed a $4 million offer, it would beat what Phoenix can afford and leave almost $1 million under the cap, about as much as they are comfortable spending.
If the Sharks land this fish, the cards fall into place for the entire starting roster...