After taking a break from Bleacherreport due to getting accustomed to life as a college student, it is time to finally get back on the computer and analyze the offseason of the perennial "playoff choking" San Jose Sharks.
Just today, it has become official that the Sharks have shipped off Christian Ehrhoff. Clearly, such a move was well anticipated (as you read in my previous article: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/238668-san-jose-sharks-why-christian-ehrhoffs-days-in-teal-are-numbered).
However, what was not anticipated was that Ehrhoff would have a fellow teammate being shipped out of San Jose with him. Despite just arriving to San Jose along with Dan Boyle last offseason, defenseman Brad Lukowich has also been sent to Vancouver in the deal that brings prospects Patrick White and Daniel Rahimi to San Jose.
Now on one hand, Lukowich wasn't the most productive defenseman for San Jose, posting just eight points (all assists) in an injury plagued season which saw him play in just 58 games. But on the other hand, the Sharks have been known for being soft and not stepping up their game during the postseason. Therefore, trading away one of the teams more physical defenseman (who has won a Stanley Cup) does not seem like the most beneficial of moves.
To be fair, the Sharks were up against the cap and Lukowich was due $1.5 million in the last year of his contract. But trading Ehrhoff gets rid of $3.1 million for the next two seasons. Hence, getting rid of Ehrhoff was essentially all that was necessary.
But now with Lukowich going to Vancouver with Ehrhoff, the Canucks now have one third of their blue-line handed to them for free. Granted the Sharks received a couple prospects in return, but as of late, the Sharks farm system hasn't been churning out productive players like it once did. Former first round picks Logan Couture and Nick Petrecki from a couple years ago haven't been progressing at the rate fans expected. It appears that neither are even serious contenders to make the team this season.
But in all honesty, prospects in the NHL are a crap-shoot. Peter Forsberg and Pat Fallon were both taken in the first round of the 1991 NHL entry draft. Falloon was taken ahead of Forsberg but if you aren't a Sharks fan, you are probably asking yourself "who the F**k is Pat Faloon"? Therefore the prospects the Sharks received in this deal could become quality contributors or names nobody will remember in the next few years.
However, who the Sharks received in this deal has actually zero importance. This move was a salary dump and nothing more. It was expected for Ehrhoff to be gone, but Lukowich's departure leaves a gaping hole in the Sharks defensive corps.
Who is going to be Dan Boyle's defensive partner? Is Derek Joslin ready? Will they resign Alexei Semenov? Does this mean there is an outside chance that Nick Petrecki is ready for the NHL?
Either way, someone who isn't nearly as capable as Lukowich is going to have to fill that role unless Wilson is planning on making another move to acquire a better replacement.
But the circumstances surrounding this trade aren't the biggest issue this offseason. The biggest news came when the Sharks took away the captaincy from Patrick Marleau and the alternate captaincy from Joe Thornton.
When Mark Purdy's article in the San Jose Mercury News came out a few weeks ago telling fans that Marleau was no longer the captain, fans rejoiced. The zero heart, lack of grit, lack of locker room presence, and lack of well, let's just say "lack of being Jeremy Roenick in his prime" captain that Patrick Marleau was, is now gone.
Time to rejoice right? Dan Boyle is the clear-cut captain, right?
EHHHHHHNT, no, wrong, nice try, play again.
After hearing numerous reports, it is apparent that Patrick Marleau may still in fact be the captain. Joe Thornton may still in fact be an alternate captain, he also may in fact be the new captain (Boston meltdown part II anybody?).
While watching Comcast SportsNet Central last night, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan made it clear that "Patty" could win the captaincy back with his "performance" in training camp.
Therefore, instead of actually stripping the "C" off of Marleau's jersey, it sounds as if the Sharks have just temporarily given Marleau a different jersey to wear for training camp. This way, it appears that he is no longer captain but since he has already had experience in that role, he probably will have the best chance of anyone to earn back the "C".
Essentially, the Sharks are trying to give the fans what they want, but yet are continuing to fail at smelling the roses. Both McLellan, Wilson and whoever else has input on the leadership decisions need to wake the $%@# up and realize what the entire fan base has realized: Thornton and Marleau are good players but neither are leaders.
Why the coaches cannot take a look at their roster and realize that players like Joe Pavelski, Ryane Clowe, Dan Boyle, Rob Blake, and Torrey Mitchell are the ones who show true leadership abilities, is beyond me.
With Jeremy Roenick retiring, the Sharks have lost the only presence in their locker room who had the ability to go up to a teammates face and call him out for not putting up his best effort.
Perhaps Boyle can play that role because he has been in the league for some time but he is more the type to let his play do the talking. However, if given a letter, especially the "C", players like Pavelski and Clowe would feel more confident to go up to a Patty Marleau and say, "Your playing like sh%#, start skating your a** off".
But if either Thornton or Marleau have any type of letter on the front of their jersey, this "leadership" change will be the biggest hoax in the history of the Sharks. The only two moves they have made this offseason that make sense, could not have been executed worse.
All the other little signings off Nichol, Ortmeyer, Huskins, Vesce and the letting go of Grier, Boucher etc. are not going to make or break the Sharks season.
However, the two big moves of the offseason have been executed almost as bad as South Carolina in the Miss America pageant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dww&feature=PlayList&p=86EAE55830FBDBC8&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=10
When a team fails time and time again when it matter most, a significant change is needed and it needs to be made without hesitation. Changes that are half hearted and decrease the talent level of the club are not what a team needs.
Instead of just taking the "C" temporarily off Marleau's sweater, the Sharks should just announce that Boyle is the new captain. We all know it is going to be the former cup winner. Pavelski and Clowe both have an outside shot but there is no way that it won't be Boyle (unless Marleau retains it).
And instead of trading away Lukowich and Ehrhoff, the Sharks should have just dumped Ehrhoff. By trading Ehrhoff alone, the Sharks would have created enough room under the cap to fill up their roster.
Unless by some miracle the Sharks acquire Dany Heatley without giving up any of their young core (i.e. Marleau and Cheechoo being the main pieces of the deal) then this offseason will have been an complete and utter disappointment.