A new era will begin in San Jose for the Sharks when the '08-'09 campaign begins. New faces have arrived. Familiar faces have been shipped off.
Hopefully the right combination of both will spell a Stanley Cup Championship for the San Jose Sharks.
The biggest new face will be behind the bench for the Sharks. Todd McLellan was picked off of Detroit's bench where he was in charge of Detroit's phenomenal power play squad. Sharks fans alike hope he can spark the offensive powder keg that San Jose's forwards have the potential to do.
Doug Wilson seemed to be sitting on his hands the first two days of free agency while players like Brian Campbell and Patrick Rissmiller were sent packing to Chicago and the Rangers respectively.
Despite the absence in the free agent market, Wilson made a deal with Tampa Bay to bring Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich to San Jose to join 18-year veteran defensemen Rob Blake in bolstering an inconsistent blue line. Wilson lured Rob Blake away from the Los Angeles Kings with a one-year for five million contract.
In return for Dan Boyle and Lukowich, San Jose sent Matt "Turnover in the Defensive Zone" Carle and hot prospect Ty Wishart packing. The Sharks also bundled up two future draft picks (first and fourth round) to complete the deal.
These additions are key in the replacement of Brian Campbell who took money over Stanley Cup contention. Boyle and Blake will hopefully teach young defensemen like Ehrhoff and Vlasic how to become all-star caliber defensemen. They will also be able to add a threat on the power play for the Sharks.
The Sharks have the best defensive lineup in their history. The lock down defense of Boyle and Blake will work well with the speed of Ehrhoff and Vlasic with the explosive hitting of Douglas Murray.
Another face that will be missing during the '08-'09 campaign will be veteran Craig Rivet. He was shipped shortly after the Boyle trade was finalized to Buffalo for two second round picks. I'm not sure if the Sharks simply wanted to free up salary or truly wanted replacement picks for the ones they sent to Tampa Bay, but he will be a great asset to the Buffalo Sabers.
On a much more disappointing note, did not renew a contract with Curtis Brown.
Any true Sharks fan respected Curtis Brown for being one of the hardest working Sharks the team has ever had. He resembled Mike Ricci in his relentless grit. He went into the corners harder than anyone, back checked when no one else did, and worked harder on the penalty kill than most. When Grier and Brown were on the penalty kill, a puck clear wasn't expected or hoped for, but a short-handed breakaway. He will be truly missed.
The off-season is still a long way from being over, and these new additions are only making the upcoming season more and more anticipated. Hopefully these key additions will bring the cup to San Jose.