well let me start off by saying this is my first blog so spare me!
I've been wanting to start a hockey blog for quite some time but i couldn't figure out what to start with.. so being a sharks fan, I'm going to start with discussing the sharks moves in the off season and how i think it will impact the team.
so the sharks first big move of the off season which probably had the most impact on the team overall was the Devin Setoguchi trade. This guy has unbelievable talent! he can skate with some of the fastest in the league, he has spectacular puck control and agility and not to mention a monstrous wrist shot. so why would any team want to trade a young guy with so much talent? well as we've all seen the last 3 years that the sharks can finish the season being a top 5 team but when they get to the playoffs.. they choke! this was simply due to the team having way to much offensive power. the team was really heavy on forwards that could be top line on any team, but extremely week on defense. in the playoffs they were simply getting beat up and out muscled. so what does a team like this need to do in order to kill their reputation of choking in the playoffs? it's simple fix your weak areas by balancing the scale. give up some of the offense to get defense. so the sharks didn't just go out looking for any available defense, they targeted top 10 defender Brent Burns. this guy is 6' 5" tall and weighs 230 pounds, and on top of that he's a great skater, has a scary slap shot, he's not afraid to hit and has outstanding offensive and defensive awareness. Burns put up G:17 A:29 last season on a team that was struggling with offense. so put him on a super charged offensive team like the sharks and his potential is off the charts! plus that allows more breathing room for sharks all star defense men Dan Boyle who can play less minutes now which will allow to perform at a higher level. Over all I think trading Devin Setoguchi for Brent burns, with a few draft picks and a rookie thrown in there was a great trade for both teams.
Now the other big move in the off season for the sharks was trading 7M dollar all star and legend Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat. Dany Heatley is a 2 time 50 goal scorer, has had multiple 100+ point seasons. he's the 9th highest scoring player in the NHL over the past decade. in 669 games he had 689 points. that's more than 1 point per game average over a long career! Martin Havlat on the other hand is a decent offensive player, he has multiple 60+ point seasons and in 621 games he has put up 512 points.. so on paper this trade doesn't make sense at all. but in all actuality this was a perfect trade, and I'll tell you why. like i mentioned earlier about the sharks having too much offense, Dany Heatley was one of those players who should definitely be on the top line of any team. but since the sharks had so many top 3 players they didn't know what to do with their lines, so Dany Heatley found himself floating between the first and second line and competing for who's going to take the roll as the teams go to goal scorer. it didn't turn out like all sharks fans hoped being that all the top players would put up their normal 60-100 points and the sharks would run every team over with their overwhelming offense. what instead ended up happening was there was never a consistent top two lines and the players had no chemistry because of it which caused them to not perform as well as they could. now you're probably wondering how does trading Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat fix that problem? well the sharks needed to get rid of one of their top offensive players to form a more consistent team. so it was either Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau or Dany Heatley... i personally think Joe Pavelski is one of the best players on the team alongside Joe Thornton and rookie Logan couture and in my opinion is much more valuable than Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley. he's top 5 in the league at face offs he's, fast smart, defensive and has incredible shooting abilities. he isn't nicknamed the Swiss Army knife for no reason, this guy has it all! so now it's between Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley... even though they put up almost identical numbers last season, Patrick Marleau has a lot more to offer than Heatley. Marleau is one of the fastest skaters in the NHL he has great goal scoring abilities as does Heatley, he's much better defensively he can take face offs, and he comes almost a million dollars cheaper so Heatley was clearly the odd man out. Martin Havlat who comes 2.5M dollars cheaper a great offensive player who is also one of the fastest in the NHL. He has great offensive and defensive awareness, he can play on the penalty kill, he can score goals but most importantly he will have a definite spot on the second line so the team will be rolling consistent lines which will allow the players to get chemistry and make a better team overall. So the Heatley for Havlat trade is another off season move that i think will greatly help improve the team!
What is the team missing now? Defensive depth and muscle.
to fix this problem the sharks acquired 3rd liner Michal Handzus. this 6' 4" 220 pound center is great at face offs, he blocks shots, hits, kills penalties, draws penalties and can put up 30 points on the 3rd line.
They also acquired 2 veteran defense men in Colin White and Jim Vandermeer. White is 6' 4" and 220 pounds. he has no offensive threat what so ever but he is a solid big defender that will hit a lot, block a lot of shots, fight and intimidate the other team. he also has a Stanley Cup under his belt so playoff experience and knowledge is something he can bring to the table. Jim Vandermeer is 6' 1" and 215 pounds he is a much similar player as white, he another really big tough defender that will drop the gloves with anyone to stick up for his forwards, which is exactly what the sharks needed.
Even after losing all star player Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, Ian White and Kyle Wellwood I think the sharks balanced out their team and have one of the NHL's top defenses, a phenomenal offense and an extremely solid former Stanley cup winning goal tender Antti Niemi.
The sharks are going to be a hard team to beat this year, and come playoffs i think this is the year theyre going to push through and obliterate their past reputation! my prediction is theyre definitely going to make the Stanley Cup finals this year if not take home the cup. (fingers crossed)
Blog by, Matt Moore