Hi there. I've been a long-time reader but never bothered to make an account. I figured I'd try my hand in voicing my opinion on things now that it's the off-season and there isn't much Shark talk happening.
On Draft/Free Agency:
It's no secret that the Sharks have been actively inactive during the off-season. It's for a good reason, though.
San Jose spent most of their time ensuring they secured the services of top flight forward Logan Couture for years to come, and then did a good job of it.
The draft came and went with the only notable pick being first rounder Mirco Mueller, who projects to be 2-4 years away from donning the Sharks jersey in a full time component. We were then left with free agency and the lack of money that was left on our salary cap. Not much got done there, either.
Tyler Kennedy was acquired for a 2nd Rd pick in the 2013 draft, of which the Sharks had three, including the Penguins 2nd round pick. So if you go back to the Douglas Murray trade, the Sharks/Pens actually swapped 2nd rounders and players, with the Pens throwing an additional 2nd rounder in 2014 to sweeten the deal.
I'm happy with Kennedy. He brings energy and third line talent to a team searching for just that. The re-signing of James Sheppard proves the lack of depth at the center position for the bottom six and Kennedy improves that. Sheppard was picked up after being a first round bust of the Minnesota Wild and hasn't showed signs of reversing the clock. Kennedy upgrades the middle for the Sharks.
On Amnesty Buyouts:
Most people in Sharks Nation were looking at potential buyouts during the amnesty period and were surprised when nothing happened.
This is a competitive team that made the playoffs and had a chance to go deep. Why change that? Who was so terrible, in a shortened season, to warrant a buyout?
Brent Burns? He was moved to forward in an attempt to make his contract worthwhile. It isn't because he can't play defense, it's because he's not very good at it. He performed much better on a forward unit for the Sharks. It was a gutsy move, but it's one that could prove his contract worthwhile, considering what Clowe, Weiss, Clarkson and Bozak netted this off-season in free agency.
Martin Havlat? Sure, he had a bad year for his type of contract. Is it time to panic? Absolutely not. The depth isn't there on the wing to merit a riot in California for Havlat's head. The beauty of an amnesty buyout is that it can be done after next season as well.
If I was a betting man, I'd bet that the Sharks use both amnesty buyouts after the 2013-2014 season. Vlasic and Havlat, I'm looking at you. Why am I not looking at Burns? I think he's worth his contract on forward if he plays in the top six. Yeah, I know, it's strange to take a D and put him top six forward. The crazy part? It's not that crazy. Burns is a big body with offensive talent. Consider him a forward trapped in a defenseman's body. Somewhere along the road a coach told Burns he was a d-man, and Burns believed him. Several years later, a real coach told him he was a forward and he got stuff done.
On Being Over The Cap:
Sticking with the casino theory, I'd bet that Thornton and Marleau don't see a day past this season in a Sharks jersey. They're aging veterans that are coveted by several teams around the league. Looking at what Buffalo got for Pominville should have Sharks fans smiling, considering that Marleau and Thornton are significantly better players than JP.
On Everything Else:
This cap "problem" won't last long.
Deals will be made and players will be sent elsewhere. The Sharks are in a significantly under-the-radar rebuild right now, and the front office doesn't even know it yet.
With Couture signed on for big money long term it indicates that he's the #1 C moving forward and that the team is ready to move past Jumbo Joe and Patty. I've nothing but high regards for both players and for what they've done for the organization.
Thornton is probably the player in the league who catches the most crap for his team, outside of Luongo and that situation, without just cause. The giant warrior was shunned from Boston for under-performing with broken ribs during the playoffs, and again given the rails by East Coast media during his tenure with the Sharks.
Joe is a warrior, plain and simple. He will be missed, but it's time to cash out.
The other problem, most notably pointed out by other fans, is that Anti Niemi isn't a starting goaltender in the NHL.
He seemed just fine in the system that Todd McClellan ran in San Jose last year, surely better than a few "potential #1's" around the league.
Is he the full-time answer? Probably not. What I can say is that he got the job done in the cage and shouldn't be looked at as a weakness on this team.
Anyway, thanks for reading my thoughts on a few things.
I'll be back with more as it comes.
Stay icy, Sharks fans.