With the disappointment that was the 2008-09 season for the San Jose Sharks, numerous fans were clamoring for general manager Doug Wilson to make a splash on the first day of free agency.
However, even though Wilson smartly stayed away from big name free agents like Marian Gaborik and Martin Havlat, the Sharks still have the opportunity to make a splash through a trade or by signing remaining free agents.
First off, there is still a chance the Sharks make a move for Danny Heatley. Fans can say what they want about his character (or lack thereof), but Heatley provides a pure scoring punch that the Sharks have not had since Owen Nolan left in 2003.
To be fair, it is understandable that the then 24-year-old wanted out of Atlanta after experiencing a tragedy few could imagine. When Heatley was just 22 back in 2003, he was responsible for a car accident that took the life of his friend and teammate Dan Snyder.
Prior to the 2005-06 season, Heatley was traded to Ottawa where he has become a perennial all-star. But now the 28-year-old wants out again, and many find him to be a bit selfish.
After requesting a trade and giving Ottawa GM Bryan Murray a list of several teams he would play for, Heatley rejected a trade to the Edmonton Oilers. Despite Edmonton being on Heatley's list, for some reason the superstar did not bite.
Some may say that Heatley is acting full of himself and lacks respect for those involved in trying to trade him. However, like him or not, Heatley would be a tremendous acquisition for the Sharks.
The 28-year-old winger would become the first legitimate scorer to play alongside play-making center Joe Thornton.
The good news for the Sharks is the majority of other teams on Heatley's list are no longer in need of his services. The Rangers and Flames already made big free-agent signings, the Kings have made a trade for Ryan Smyth, and as mentioned above, Heatley has already denied a move to Edmonton.
However, it is difficult for the Sharks to acquire Heatley because current Sharks captain Patrick Marleau would be a great center piece in the deal, but the winger is unlikely to waive his no trade clause.
Knowing that, the offer the Sharks would have to come up with would involve shipping young stars Milan Michalek and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Not only would that be a lot to give up, but the chances are extremely low that Doug Wilson would be willing to part with both of those players.
At this point, the likelihood Heatley comes to San Jose is extremely low, but despite that fact, there still are numerous free-agents out there for the taking.
Long-time Montreal Canadien Saku Koivu is still without an employer, and with the shakeup Montreal has made this off-season, it is safe to say that Koivu will have a new club come time for the regular season.
Koivu registered 50 points in 65 games last season, 56 points in 77 games two years ago, and a solid 75 points in 81 games back in 2006-07.
Now some may say the Sharks are deep at center, but with Patrick Marleau converted to left-wing and both Torrey Mitchell and Joe Pavelski able to play checking roles, Koivu may be able to be a second or third line center with the Sharks.
With his offensive skill slowing, putting Koivu as a third line center and keeping the improving Pavelski on the second line would be the most likely scenario. Regardless, Koivu's experience up the middle would add scoring depth to a team that was lacking scoring from their bottom two lines.
Former Shark Killer Alex Tanguay would look great in teal and may come cheap as the former Montreal Canadien and Calgary Flame has under-performed the last few seasons. Over the last two seasons Tanguay has tallied just 41 points and 59 points after tallying 81 points in 81 games in 2006-07.
However, returning to the Western Conference where he feasted on the Sharks as a member of the Colorado Avalanche could be a jump start for the soon-to-be 29-year-old winger.
If neither of the former Canadiens are willing to sign at a price that Doug Wilson is willing to offer, there are still numerous free agent scorers out there who are in need of a change of scenery and may be willing to play third line roles.
Buffalo's Maxim Afinogenov was once a hot-shot young forward that was bound to develop into a consistent 20+ goal scorer. Back in the day, he was always a player that kids around the world would trade for on their EA Sports NHL video games because he was always rated in the low 90s.
However, numerous injuries have been a halt to Afinogenov's career as the 29-year-old has tallied only 48 points in just 104 games over the last two seasons.
But it is no secret that Afinogenov has a scoring punch as the native Russian averaged more than a point per game (134 in 133 games) between 2005-2007.
Afinogenov's former teammate Alex Kotalik is also a free-agent. Kotalik spent the majority of his six full seasons in the NHL with the Sabres before being traded to the Oilers last season.
In four of those six seasons, Kotalik has tallied 20 or more goals, and in 2005-2006 notched career bests in goals (25), assists (37), and points (62).
Both Afinogenov and Kotalik can provide scoring depth for the Sharks as third line wingers playing alongside either Torrey Mitchell or perhaps another free-agent like the aforementioned Saku Koivu.
But the final name that would look good in teal is not a forward, and in fact is a little bit of a curve ball.
Despite the Sharks currently having seven capable NHL defensemen, it would be extremely interesting for the Sharks to pick up long-time Dallas Stars defenseman Sergei Zubov.
Bringing Zubov to San Jose is a move Doug Wilson ought to at least give some quality thought because after two-injury filled seasons, Zubov may want to prove to the Stars that he still has gas left in the tank.
And how sweet would it be for the Sharks to take a player away from their rival and have him go on to have a solid season, while perhaps scoring a goal or two against his former team?
The only problem with this move is that the Sharks already have seven top six quality defensemen.
However, the much anticipated move for San Jose to make this off-season is trading away defenseman Christian Ehrhoff who finished with a disappointing -12 plus/minus rating last season.
If that were to happen, bringing in the 38-year-old Zubov as a seventh defenseman would be an intriguing move.
Zubov would play a whole lot more than Alexei Semenov did last season at the same position. Zubov would be an added bonus on the powerplay, and would be another right-handed shot. Granted the Sharks already have right-handed point shots with Dan Boyle and Rob Blake, Boyle seems better used quarterbacking the power-play.
And although Zubov was the quarterback for the Stars throughout the years, his shot from the one time position on the left point would be an added bonus.
Plus, if that is not the way the Sharks want to operate, they don't have to use a power-play with two quarterbacks.
Instead, Boyle and Blake can play the point on the first unit and Zubov (who is now an older version of Boyle) can quarterback the second unit along side the up and coming Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
Adding Zubov to the mix would give the Sharks two potent power-play units that they didn't have last year. San Jose typically split up Blake and Boyle and neither Christian Ehrhoff nor Vlasic proved to be good enough at the point.
However Vlasic has room for improvement if he were to play along-side a quarterback in Zubov.
Now it is unclear if Zubov would be willing to take on a seventh man role and even if he were, his performance on the ice may require him to be in the lineup more often than not and the Sharks may need to decide if not only Ehrhoff should be traded but perhaps Brad Lukowich should see diminished playing time or be shipped off as well.
Either way, there are plenty of names that would look good in teal, and hopefully GM Doug Wilson will ink some of them soon so Sharks fans can have something to talk and get excited about for the upcoming season.
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