“Dump and Chase” is hopefully going to be a team-by-team article that lets me put on my general manager hat and tell those big wigs how an out-of-work hockey fan would run their team. I hope they are taking notes.
I'll start off this off with my favorite team, the San Jose Sharks.
Keeping this team at status quo is apparently unacceptable, which is a strange thing to say about a group that just won the President’s Trophy. But with 12 regular starters slated to come back next season, any major changes will be tricky.
Due to the increase in salaries of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Christian Ehrhoff, and Douglas Murray, GM Doug Wilson won’t have much wiggle room to make big moves without freeing up some salary cap through trades.
Because of this, The Sharks will have to be very frugal this off-season using a delicate mixture of cheap free agent talent and potential farm system prospects.
In order for the Sharks to take a step closer to losing their “Regular Season Wonder” tag, it will all start with these free agency moves:
Rob Blake, D (Unrestricted Free Agent)
Rob brought a lot of experience to the blue line and put up great points for the Sharks but his money requirements for next season will be too high. Dan Boyle, Ehrhoff, Brad Lukowich, Vlasic, and Murray already take up $17.34 million of the cap—adding another $5 million would be absolutely ridiculous. Throwing more money to Blake would be a tough pill to swallow for management and fans.
Jeremy Roenick, C (UFA)
Jeremy’s energy and personality has brought a lot to the Sharks the past two seasons, and the way he pumps up a room will be hard to replicate. Roenick will turn forty next January and whether or not his body can still handle the toll of being a fourth-line grinder is in great question. Unless JR is willing to take a major pay cut or join the front office, we are going to have to let him go and see what our younger talent is able to do.
Alexei Semenov, D (UFA)
Letting Semenov go isn’t really a hard decision. While his size and strength were nice elements to have, I think this roster spot can be filled by some of the defensive talent that is brewing in Worchester. Derek Joslin and Mike Moore made impressive appearances in the NHL and AHL this season. Expect them to take over any defensive roster openings next year.
Travis Moen, LW (UFA)
While Travis showed a ton of energy and made a decent addition for the Sharks’ stretch run, his services will no longer be needed.
Jamie McGinn is primed to take his roster spot next year, and I think has more to offer than Moen. McGinn played consistently well during all of his call-up this season and appears to be ready to be an everyday NHL player.
Kent Huskins, D (UFA)
Huskins didn’t play a single game with the Sharks since the trade deadline move and is definitely not worth re-signing just because of that. Moen and Huskins were rental players that we lost way too much for.
Claude Lemieux, RW (UFA)
It seemed like a good idea and he did throw his body around quite efficiently but come on—no one wants to see their grandpa get hurt on skates.
Marcel Goc, C (Restricted Free Agent)
Goc has been a solid third/fourth line center but his injuries and lack of scoreboard production forces me to say, “Thanks for all of your hard work with us, but I think you may be a better fit for another team.” I have to believe that a better or equally talented forward is available at a lesser price, whether it is in free agency or in the farm.
Tomas Plihal, LW (RFA)
Plihal got 64 games to prove his NHL worth this season, and he didn’t do much with them. With Lukas Kaspar and Logan Couture anxiously waiting to get their shot at the big show, the talent pool at forward is getting a little too crowded for the skills that Tomas is able bring to the ice.
Ryan Clowe, RW (Restricted Free Agent)
In his fourth season, it was a pleasure for fans to see Ryan finally hit his stride. With an almost injury-free season, playing in a season-high 71 games, Clowe posted career numbers with 22 goals and 52 points. Ryan ranked 26th among left wings in points, alongside names like Kristian Huselius, Dustin Brown, and Chirs Kunitz.
This ranking will definitely increase the money that Clowe will want this offseason. I expect him to ask for something around a four-year, $18 million contract and I think this would be worth it. Clowe has proven he can perform nightly. He compliments Pavelski and Michalek perfectly ,and I truly believe he still hasn’t reached his full potential.
Torrey Mitchell, C (RFA)
Mitchell missed all of the 2008-2009 regular season with a broken leg, an injury that seemed to keep getting worse as the season went along. He was able to appear in four playoff games and showed glimpses of the speed that awed everyone the season prior.
I think the Sharks can get Mitchell with an incentive-based contract that would total slightly more than $1 million if paid in full, which is good buy. Everyone was anxious to see how Torrey’s speed would ignite this already fast offense, but never truly got a chance. Unless management knows something more significant about his injury, Mitchell has too much potential just to give up on, so expect to see him back in teal next season.
Brad Staubitz, RW (RFA)
Staubitz is a big-time bruiser who made lasting impressions during his call-ups in 2009. Brad showed that he wasn’t afraid to get physical and could perform well no matter what line he was on. Putting him on a line with Jody Shelly could spell terror for teams looking to play in-your-face hockey. Brad will also come at a cheaper price than most forwards in the market, and he should do just fine for what the Sharks need him for.
San Jose is going to have a hard time finding good, cheap talent in the free agency market. The next year or two will really be a testament to how well Doug Wilson has drafted...unless he plans on masking his flaws by dishing off Joe Thornton.
Either way, something has to improve on ice, and not just on paper.