Last season was supposed to be the Sharks’ year. General Manager Doug Wilson made some big moves in the 2011 offseason: He traded a struggling Dany Heatley (who only put up 26 goals in the 2010-11 season; quite a drop off from the 39 he’d put up the previous two), up-and-coming golden boy Devin Setoguchi and the team’s most valuable prospect, Charlie Coyle, all to the Minnesota Wild.
Heatley was traded for sniper Martin Havlat. For Setoguchi, Coyle and a first round pick, the Sharks acquired Brent Burns. Burns was met with a special kind of excitement, as the Sharks’ blue line had been missing a quick, gritty defenseman who can also shoot after the retirement of Rob Blake in 2010.
But 2011-12 was not the Sharks’ season. Not only did the Stanley Cup not make it to San Jose, but the Sharks had their worst showing in the playoffs since … well, ever. (The Sharks lost in five games to the St. Louis Blues in the first round.)
The excuses were exhaustive. Injury-prone Havlat suffered a hamstring injury in December that kept him out for 39 games. The team looked distant, like they weren’t clicking. There was the usual taunting of the team’s veterans (Thornton, Marleau – I’m looking at you) for lacking fire and energy. And what was up with the special teams?
Regardless of the excuses, a big change is what the Sharks need to turn things around next season, right?
The ownership group decided to stick with Doug Wilson. Doug Wilson decided to stick with head coach Todd McClellan. And so far, there have been no major shake-ups for the Sharks roster.
The Sharks made no offers to any of their 10 free agents. Torrey Mitchell, probably the best of the bunch, signed with Minnesota on July 1. (Guys, the Wild is going to be sickkkkk this season.) The remaining nine have yet to make deals.
And since July 1, the Sharks have signed just six players. But only two, Brad Stuart and Adam Burish, will make much of an impact, as the other four are on two-way contracts and those players will probably only make brief appearances in San Jose.
Former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart signed a three-year, $3.6 million/season contract after San Jose acquired his rights back in June. Fun fact: Stuart was drafted by the Sharks in 1998 and played there for five and a half seasons. He was traded with a few other players to Boston in 2005 for … Joe Thornton. Welcome home, Brad, hope it’s not awkward!
The only move the Sharks’ made on July 1 was signing former Dallas Stars forward Adam Burish to a four-year, $1.85 million/season contract.
The San Jose Mercury News’ David Pollak reported:
“Burish isn’t considered a serious scoring threat. Averaging 12:47 ice time in Dallas last season, Burish had six goals and 13 assists in 65 games; in 297 NHL games overall, he has 25 goals and 29 assists.
“The Sharks have to improve on the NHL’s second-worst penalty kill from last season and see Burish in that role as well. With a Dallas penalty kill that finished 13th in the NHL, he averaged 1:26 short-handed time.”
After these moves, the Sharks are left with roughly 6.5 million cap space, and the same core group of players that have consistently fallen short. The names Douglas Murray (especially after the Sharks acquired Stuart) and Ryane Clowe keep getting thrown around as most likely to be traded. Really? The guy who fractured his Adam’s apple and the guy who played concussed? Because they had rough seasons? What about Patrick Marleau, the guy who was injury-free and still didn’t score a single point in the playoffs?
Doug Wilson is up to something and I can smell it. He quietly signed Burish on the first day, and has been silent since. The Sharks have a relatively small amount of cap space, but a top-line that needs some new energy and different faces.
I’m looking forward to seeing where Rick Nash will call home.