The San Jose Sharks: 5 Defensemen to Target ASAP
The San Jose Sharks defense didn’t live up to expectation last season prompting, general manager Doug Wilson to acquire Brad Stuart. Stuart, 32, joins an already aging defense but built to win soon. However, if they don’t, there are some defensemen on the horizon the Sharks should target.
San Jose’s best defensemen are all nearing the ends of their respective careers.
Dan Boyle is 36. Stuart, as previously mentioned, is 32. Douglas Murray is also 32.
All is not lost as The Sharks do have some young talent on the blue-line. Marc-Edouard Vlasic is 25. Brent Burns is 27 and Justin Braun is 25.
Vlasic and Burns may fight to be the head blueliner for the Sharks in the next few seasons, especially if the Sharks don’t find a high level of success.
The aging group of Shark defensemen, especially talents like Boyle and Stuart, carries a pretty high price tag. For teams looking to add finishing pieces before a playoff run, that price tag could reward the Sharks with young, talented d-men and draft picks.
Draft picks will become an even higher commodity on the blue-line in upcoming years. The 2013 and 2014 classes are loaded with solid defensemen.
Assuming the Sharks don’t find success with this current group, and begin to shop around, there are a number of quality blueliners they should target as soon as possible.
The Sharks could use a young defenseman with good hands.
Entering his fourth season with the Buffalo Sabres, Myers has netted 108 points in 217 games. He scored a career-high 48 in his rookie season.
Myers played in all 82 games his rookie season and 80 in 2010-11. Last season, however, he played in just 55 and had a career-low 23 points.
That makes Myers a bargain, to a point. Myers, did just re-sign with the Sabres for seven years and $38.5 million.
Still, he would be a great addition to the Sharks even if the price tag is a little high. Another down season and the Sabres might be willing to unload the cap hit.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have a lot of salary issues that need to be addressed on their front lines, that could put Brooks Orpik on the block, maybe.
Orpik is a second-pair defenseman in Pittsburgh. He could be a first-pair defenseman in San Jose.
A consistent 10- to 20-point scorer Orpik is better known for his bone-crushing hits. Last season he had 259 of them.
Even more valuable, Orpik has playoff experience, a Stanley Cup and is a career plus-18 player.
Entering the fifth year of a six-year deal worth $22.5 million, Orpik offers good return for a great price.
The Sharks could use that with their $5.5 million in cap space this season.
The Minnesota Wild have a significant number of defensive young guns, including Nate Prosser.
Minnesota has Clayton Stoner, Justin Falk, Marco Scandella and recently added Ryan Suter.
Currently, Prosser isn't on the top six for the Wild. Though, he played well in his rookie season, recording 12 points in 51 games.
His 57 penalty minutes display an edgy side and while the minus-17 rating may scare some people, the Wild weren't exactly a strong team in the second half of last season.
If the Wild establish their top six, and Prosser isn't a part of it, he could be looking for a new place to play.
Sunny California would be an inviting, and fitting, place for Prosser to grow and become a consistent second-pair defenseman of the future.
Prosser is beginning a two-year deal in Minnesota worth $800k per season.
He's another value guy for the Sharks to watch for.
San Jose was the best team in California in last year's regular season.
Yep, the Sharks had 96 points. Los Angeles had 95. Anaheim recorded 80 points.
With that said, the Kings stole the Sharks' thunder by making a great run through the playoffs en route to the Stanley Cup.
San Jose could build their own "Kings" thanks to the 2013 NHL Draft class.
Los Angeles had a beautiful chemistry of talented, young stars and experienced, crafty veterans. San Jose could take that route.
If the Sharks are out of playoff contention, some of their biggest names would get top-dollar. Names like Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle could help the Sharks load up on picks in the 2013 NHL Draft.
One of the top-rated prospects is Will Butcher.
Butcher, the 27th-rated prospect by the Hockey Writers, is a strong, offensive defenseman for the United States Hockey Development National Team.
Duplicating the scenario from the previous slide, if the Sharks are sellers at the trade deadline next season, they will have the best draft class in ten years to collect picks for.
The top-rated prospect in the draft is Seth Jones. Jones is a guy that teams can build around.
He is agile, quick, strong, big, physical and can play in every situation.
That would be a great asset to the Sharks, who finished 29th in the league on the penalty kill.
Jones has received high-praise since he was 15 and could be the first-overall pick in 2013.
He will be playing for the Portland Winter Hawks in Canada's WHL, a great opportunity for him to solidify his place atop the draft board.
The Sharks getting the No. 1 pick in next year's draft is a long shot, even if they load up on draft picks through trades. But, they should have an eye on Jones given the opportunity to select him.
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