This is the time of year San Jose Sharks are getting ready to assemble for training camp, coming back together as a team for the first time since that fateful late May night in Vancouver. We all remember that night like it was yesterday, and I can guarantee you so do the Sharks. However, we can all take a deep breath and now say “That was LAST YEAR.”.
If you’ve followed the Sharks for any length of time, you know the Sharks have a GM in Doug Wilson who is always looking for a way to make the Sharks not only better, but find the missing pieces that will vault the Sharks over the top into the promised land know as the Stanley Cup Finals. Though the Sharks have been close in the past, you have to believe DW is tired of seeing the Sharks fall short each May. Once the Boston-Vancouver finals ended and July rolled around, DW got to work to start addressing what the Sharks most desperately needed, defense and muscle at the blue line. Offense is really not an issue for the Sharks on the whole, but it’s tough to win late in the season if you can’t keep your zone clear. This was a huge problem for the Sharks in the WCF vs Vancouver last May, and at times flared up through the season and playoffs.
The acquisition of Brent Burns from the Minnesota Wild for Devon Setoguchi and Charlie Coyle at first stopped me in my tracks, especially after the Sharks inked Seto to a three year deal the day before. But then you stop to realize that with a line up like Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, and Joe Thornton who had arguably his best season as a pro and came up huge in the playoffs, the offense was already in good shape. I hated to see Seto and Coyle go, but in order to get something you must be able to give up something. DW inking Burns long term shortly thereafter shows the Sharks commitment to having a strong defense and making it an equal cornerstone to their game as they will be much tougher to deal with inside their zone.
The additions of Jim Vandermeer, Colin White add both size and depth to the defensive side, which will be a big help for Dan Boyle, Douglas Murray and Marc-Edward Vlasic, and of course netminders Antti Niemi and Antero Niittymaki. Players such as Ian White and Scott Nichol will be missed as they made solid contributions in their time here, but it was clear after last post season that things needed to bulk up on the defensive side of the puck if the Sharks were going to take that next step that we are all waiting to see…
As for the offensive side of the ice, I like the additions of Michal Handzus and Martin Havlet as they bring a ton of solid NHL experience to the Sharks. I see both players as additions to strengthen this already solid core group. Handzus as spent much time in the Pacific Division with the Kings and Coyotes and will be a huge help on the penalty kill. Havlet meanwhile at age 30 brings 209 career goals plus 303 assist in 621 NHL games, and saves the Sharks a few million dollars in cap room thanks to Dany Heatley being sent to Minnesota in that trade.
Here’s looking forward to a new season in teal. How far can the Sharks go? That question remains to be answered. However, DW in my humble opinion addressed several needs that may have turned the Sharks from a team that could not crack the WCF to a team that has a great shot at the ultimate prize.
Looking forward to opening night 10/8/2011, and to quote NY Jets player Bart Scott, “CANT WAIT!!!”
The King Shark