My Two Cents for June 25th:
- Getting Down To Business- The San Jose Sharks brain trust spent this past weekend at the NHL’s annual draft. This year’s draft was held in Pittsburgh, PA. The Sharks in this year’s draft came away with six players, four forwards and two defensemen. The Sharks had a pick in each round this year except for the third, and acquired their spot in the fourth round from the Chicago Blackhawks for a pick in next year’s draft. The players drafted have a ways to go before getting to the big show in San Jose as all of the players picked are no more than 18 or 19 years of age. The Sharks here are attempting to address a need in a depleted farm system that can certainly use the help. It’s nice to see the Sharks go in that direction with the draft since sooner or later these are things that all teams must address, and team teal is no exception to the rule.
The Sharks did not make a trade other than swapping one draft pick with the Blackhawks during the draft period which was wise. The goal of this past weekend was simply to get some players on ice that can start to get acclimated to the franchise who hopefully can grow and cultivate these picks. The Sharks have dealt enough picks over the past several years which is one reason the farm system was rated one of the weaker ones. Getting the players drafted does not by any means guarantee success, however you have to start somewhere and the Sharks I feed put together a pretty good draft that if done right can get these players NHL ready in two to three years, long before their prime.
The Sharks Draft Class of 2012- In the first round the Sharks took Prauge native and forward Tomas Hertl. In 38 games with Slavia Hertl scored 12 goals while notching 38 assists. He is 6 foot 2 and shoots left handed. Chris Tierney was the Sharks second pick in this years’ draft. Tierney with London of the OHL scored 11 goals while collecting 23 assist in 65 games. The Sharks picked again in the fourth round after a minor pick swap with Chicago and used the pick to draft Christophe Lalancette who spent the 2011-12 season with Acadie-Bathrust. Lalancette in 63 games had a rather impressive 16 goals and 31 assists. If he’s able to continue this pace while in the Sharks minor league organization, this could bode well for his chances of making it all the way to the big club.
In the fifth round, the Sharks drafted Daniel O’Regan who just graduated from high school in Massachusetts. In 27 games with St. Sebastian High School, O’Regan scored 21 goals in 27 games and also contributed 35 assist. O’Regan also had a very “Lady Bing” like season has he only spent eight minutes in the penalty box. High School is a long, long way from the NHL. However, again this is where “cultivation” comes into play. This is a player that’s very green however seems to offer a good deal of potential. O’Regan also rated well at the NHL combine. The Sharks however may have to wait on O’Regan as he has committed to play at Boston University this fall.
In the sixth round the Sharks nabbed defenseman Clifford Watson, who’s size of 6’2, 201 pounds and 53 penalty minutes while with Sioux City of the USHL. Clifford may be the one in this bunch that may be looked upon to be groomed as a future enforcer. The Sharks closed out their draft taking Joakim Ryan who played this season for Cornell University. The New Jersey native had 17 points in 34 games and possess a left handed slap shot.
Again, no guarantees are made or implied with this draft. What this does for the Sharks though is begin to address getting players into the system that will fit and can grow within the organization. It’s hard to forecast who the “next Logan Couture” will be. If the Sharks allow for the development of these players and don’t use them as trading chips down the road, they will at least be addressing one obvious need in getting decent players into the farm system which can use a few right about now.
All is Quiet on the Trade Front- So far their have been no trades involving the Sharks though clearly the trade winds are blowing. The draft time probably was not the best time for the Sharks to make a major move as the focus had to be on the draft and addressing the farm system. I feel the Sharks at some point this week or in the coming weeks will likely make at least one major move if not two. This has to happen at this point as the results for this past season in the end, factored in with the Pacific Division rival Los Angeles Kings winning the Stanley Cup, have changed the dynamics of the Western Conference and how the Sharks must approach the coming season. Part of being able to pull off a trade is the assessment of their assets and being clear on who they can afford to keep, and whom they cannot go any further with. Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson has a task ahead of him that is both tough and in some ways thankless.
Ownership Appears, Speaks- Last week two of the stalwarts in the Sharks ownership group San Jose Sports & Entertainment Enterprises, Kevin Compton and Stratton Sclavos appeared before the local Bay Area sports media. It was good to hear their takes on where they felt the franchise is at. Compton basically let it be known that one of the reasons that he was sticking with Wilson as his General Manager was that “The answer isn’t always just firing people…” and that he and DW had basically have all along had a solid working relationship. Compton went on to explain to the gathering in his own assessment of the Sharks, ”“You look at two things. You look at the most recent event, which is always the playoffs, and you look at the body of work. And then you compare them. And then you say, ‘OK, how does this compare to what you told us was going to happen.’ ” *
Co-Owner Scavlos also revealed that SJS&EE had been operating at a deficit of 15 million dollars*, however he also emphasized that this was all based on doing everything possible to help the Sharks in keeping a competitive team on the ice. It’s good for the Sharks fans and particularly the season ticket holders to have the main ownership speak and they should be move involved with the fan base. Right now, this is the best public relations possible in light of this past seasons’ events. As much as I as a Sharks fans appreciate hearing from the owners, words can only go so far. The Sharks fans right now would feel a lot better knowing that actions to improve this franchise will be going forward. This time around however the Sharks are facing having to take some actions that could certainly effect the future of the franchise. If not done right, the consequences will last for several seasons. I don’t expect ownership to make guarantees or promises they cannot keep. I just want to start seeing more accountability at the top. If all are on the same page, this means they are at least not taking the season ticket renewals for granted. The season ticket holders here (and with all professional sports franchises) are the true share holders in the franchise. This said, the ownership knows the fan base and season ticket holders are going to hold their feet to the fire. They should expect it. They’ll remain skeptic until they see a reason not to be. Some fans like myself are the “Don’t Tell Me, Show Me…” type. The brain trusts of this franchise are the only people who can make this happen.
Lots of Work Lies Ahead for Team Teal- GM Doug Wilson now has the tough task of putting together the 2012-13 San Jose Sharks. The roster will not come together overnight. However, much of what will shape this roster will almost certainly occur in the next week or two. Free Agency starts this Sunday (July 1st) and the Sharks are not known for being a team that will go on a spree, however team teal needs to have already assessed the field of available free agents and identify those who would have the most positive and direct impact for this team. Of course, you also have the dreaded salary cap and also the CBA to consider. The CBA itself should really have no baring on who the Sharks sign or trade inasmuch as it would effect the teams season preparations.
As for any trades the Sharks just have to know what their tradable assets are at this point. Who are the keepers and who are the ones whom who are not getting this franchise any closer to a Cup (assuming that is the objective here). The Sharks have to make the tough call of identifying the players for which they can no longer go forward with. The Sharks know they need to get quality in the line up, and a fluid team that is faster, stronger and most importantly on the same page. Head Coach Todd McLellan will be back at the helm for his fifth season. McLellan has done a decent job with the players he has been given, but he now needs the right players (not necessarily the best players). The Sharks need this off season to be one of the most successful hot stove times in franchise history. The Sharks have basically just over three months to get a team together that will meet the expectations that the ownership, season ticket holders and fans. If they fall short again, the Sharks may have to at least consider a possible youth movement as many of the contracts they are bound to will only have a year left on them. On that thought alone, you can see why the Sharks need to make some major moves over the next several days and weeks that will follow.
Again, there is a possibility you may let out a bit of a “gasp” when you hear a household name being sent elsewhere. However do remember this is just part of the business in which they are in and what the players each sign up for, knowing this is one of many possibilities of things that can happen in a career. The Sharks must get value on the return though too, something that will at least better the team as a whole though the transaction. The new season is just under 3 1/2 months away, and the Sharks have a long road to travel to get there. Keep in mind though that summers tend to go by fast, meaning despite having a long ways to go the Sharks will also have not a whole lot of time to get there.
Hot Stove Heating up in NHL- While the Sharks contemplate their next move, some teams have already been active in the trade market. The Dallas Stars sent center Mike Ribeiro to the Washington Capitals for center Cody Eakin plus a second round pick in this year’s draft. Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafts traded defenseman Luke Schenn to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for forward James van Riemsdyk. Other trades of note saw the Phoenix Coyotes reacquire defenseman Zbynek Michalek from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Harrison Ruopp, Marc Cheverie and a pick in this year’s draft. Earlier the Penguins shipped Jordan Staal to the Carolina Panthers for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and a pick in this years’ draft. Interestingly, Staal got who got married earlier in the day was informed of the trade during his wedding reception. Staal had turned down a ten year offer with the Penquins the day before.
And Now, We Wait and See- Yes we do. However, the hardworking staff here at Blades of Teal will be here for all Sharks news and anything that breaks during the “Hot Stove League”. The free agency begins period Sunday and a lot can happen between now and then. Over the next seven days, I suspect a lot will happen…stay tuned…
…just my two cents…
The King Shark
Blades of Teal: The Final Word On San Jose Sharks Hockey
PS: *The opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect on any other staff member’s opinions with Blades Of Teal, or the website itself… The King Shark…