The best things in life are worth waiting for. At least my mom always told me that.
If mom was right, then San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson must have the mother of all plans stewing in Silicon Valley.
Since publication of my last article, we are another week into the 2010 offseason and virtually nothing has changed for the San Jose Sharks. Anton Stralman will join them in Stockholm to open the season this October, but it will be as a returning member of the opposing Columbus Blue Jackets. Andreas Lilja and Kim Johnsson among others remain on the market, but the likelihood of the Sharks calling their names seems no more likely today than it did July 1.
In fact, to the contrary, it seems a much more remote possibility.
From all outward appearances, the Sharks have not only failed to make an actual move since courting Antero Niittymaki on the first day of free agency, but if you did not know better you might think they had given up trying. Since forcing the rival Chicago Blackhawks to reach to keep Niklas Hjalmarsson, the buzz around the team in teal has been about as feverish as a game of bridge.
Even in the most speculative of circles, there are few if any juicy rumors about where the Sharks might turn next. With major questions yet to be answered, particularly on the front end of the blue line pairings, this could quickly get disheartening for one of the most loyal and hungry fan bases in hockey.
Fear not, however.
It may not be quick in coming, but rest assured that Doug Wilson has a master plan in place. He may just still be ironing it out.
There is (virtually) no chance the Sharks will enter play at Stockholm's Globe Arena on October 8 without adding talent and depth to what can at best be described as a capable overall blue line.
With Evgeni Nabokov now making saves in Russia, the Sharks will need to rely more heavily in 2010-2011 on a blue line which even with the departed Rob Blake had a habit of leaving Nabby hanging in years past. I can guarantee that Doug Wilson realizes this. He is likely just weighing his options and playing the odds.
It does little more good to sign or trade for a player tomorrow, versus waiting until just before the start of camp. Professional athletes are going to remain in peak condition no matter what contract they currently have, and as long as a player can reap the cohesion benefits of going through training camp and preseason with the rest of his teammates, a GM may do better by his team to wait.
As time drags on, free agents and GMs with marketable, tradeable players may become more receptive to deals which in the weeks and months preceding they may have declined.
The best bargains can be found at the very end of a big sale, where the seller is willing to haggle to offload his or her remaining inventory. Of course, to get to that point, you must accept that the options will be somewhat picked over. That is a trade off you must weigh.
Doug Wilson already did that by allowing Henrik Tallinder, Anton Volchenkov, Dan Hamuis and other more notable names to come off the board. At this point, it makes more sense to wait out the best bargain.
If they can stand the wait, a key deal from Doug Wilson could mean that the patience of Sharks fans may also be rewarded in another sense, with something the Bay Area has been waiting 20 years for: Lord Stanley's Cup.
Keep the faith!