For the second summer in a row, Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson has brought in a superstar to bolster his offense. Last July the acquisition of Dan Boyle provided significant offensive firepower from the blue-line but after yet another playoff failure last season, it was clear that another big move would be imminent.
Well, here you have it Sharks fans, the move we have all been waiting for since game six against Anaheim. San Jose has now acquired Ottawa Senators left-wing Dany Heatley in exchange for forwards Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo and a second round draft choice.
The rumors about Marleau being involved in the deal earlier this week proved to be completely off base and many of the local fans in San Jose are glad that their former captain will remain in San Jose. However, with two forwards now being given up in this move, it leaves the Sharks with significant holes in their bottom two forward lines.
With the exception of center Torrey Mitchell, the third and fourth lines for the Sharks now look quite anemic. Mike Grier, Travis Moen and Marcel Goc are all no longer with the club and that means the remaining five forward spots are open to the likes of Jody Shelley, Scott Nichol, Dan Hinote, Jamie McGinn, Brad Staubitz, and perhaps the former first round pick Logan Couture.
The trading of Cheechoo in this deal is what really comes as a surprise. Granted Cheechoo has fallen off in the point totals since his Maurice "Rocket" Richard winning season of 2005-06, but his hard nosed style of play on the third line won't be easy to replace. Therefore, although today's trade boosts the Sharks top scoring lines, the two-for-one deal leaves them essentially another player short in terms of top 12 caliber NHL forwards.
With the rumored deal sending Patrick Marleau to LA, Alexander Frolov and Jarrett Stoll to Ottawa and Heatley to San Jose, the Sharks would have only had to give up one forward. The one-to-one deal would have been a tremendous swap for the Sharks as Heatley has been by far the better player, averaging 1.07 points per game in his career compared to Marleau's .70 points per game.
Hence, San Jose faithful may not be wise to think that the trade that did come to fruition actually makes them better because when you take a look back at last year's regular season and playoffs, secondary scoring was a major issue.
When it comes to primary scoring, the Sharks top line of Marleau, Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi was already one of the most productive lines in the NHL and the second line of Michalek, Joe Pavelski and Ryane Clowe was excellent as well. Now to be fair, both top lines did falter in the playoffs but the bottom six forwards weren't nearly contributing their fare share of scoring either.
However, when a player with the capabilities of a Dany Heatley join your team, the secondary scoring might just end up becoming a moot point. With the pure ability that the former Thrasher and now former Senator has to put the puck in the net, the Sharks top two lines may not need any help providing the team's offense.
But with Heatley's arrival, there are numerous issues that may arise. Who knows how he will fit in with his teammates and how the chemistry will evolve. Furthermore, the Sharks are not nearly as loaded on the blue-line as they were last season because they are now without Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich.
Therefore, even with the latest acquisition, it is not clear cut that the Sharks have more talent on this year's roster than last season's.
For instance, if the this year's Sharks were matched up against the Ducks in the playoffs, would they stand any better of a chance? Yes they will most likely score more goals with Heatley on the roster, but with the weakened defense corps, how are they going to defend Ryan Getzlaf? or Corey Perry? or Bobby Ryan? Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov isn't getting any younger and seems to be on the decline. The Ducks might just end up putting even more pucks behind the Sharks netminder this upcoming season.
It doesn't seem far-fetched to think that Canucks goal-tender Roberto Luongo could shut down Thornton and Heatley, the Sedin twins could manage to get a puck or two through Nabokov's gaping 5-hole and the Sharks will have another disappointing playoffs.
Now in reality, anything can happen, and perhaps Heatley is the missing piece of the Sharks puzzle. And for Sharks fans, hopefully a deep playoff run will finally come to fruition but it also seems as if the San Jose faithful has claimed a different player to be the "missing piece" in each of the past three seasons, and well, how has that turned out?
However, as for now, Sharks fans should be excited to see their new number 15 hit the ice for the first time in a teal sweater. The man can do some flat out amazing things when he steps out on the rink.
October first can't get here soon enough, can it?