August 10th, 2010, 8:36 am
Doug returns from his summer vacation, and the Dudes try and catch up on all the news. Setoguchi, Mayers, Joslin, Kovalchuk, and Niemi are all discussed. After some emails, the Dudes finally reveal who they are going to follow in the EPL, a matter of some controversy.
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August 2nd, 2010, 9:46 am
Well, it turns out even the $2.75M arbitration award was too rich for the Blackhawks’ blood. They ditch Niemi and sign Marty Turco for one year, $1.3M. I guess you could say Doug Wilson’s evil plan of signing Hjalmarsson to an offer sheet really paid off. The Hawks now have to go with a goaltender who’s last 5 years of save percentage are .898, .910, .909, .898, and .913. I consider .900 to be the Mendoza line for goaltenders, and .910 is roughly NHL average.
The Hawks are delightfully, wonderfully screwed for goalies. According to Hockey’s Future, the Hawks have only one goaltending prospect in their top 20, Alec Richards at #11. Richards posted great numbers his last year at Yale, but has been unable to crack the magical .900 mark in either the ECHL (in a full season) or the AHL (only six games). A blue chipper this guy ain’t.
The annoying thing about Turco is his ability to play well against the Sharks. Each of the past three years Turco has posted a better save percentage against the Sharks than his season average. It’s not statistically huge, but it’s irritating. I guess the one upside is we are only facing the Hawks four times this year, versus the customary six against Dallas.
July 31st, 2010, 12:38 pm
New word on Seto, he got one year, $1.8M. That’s better than we had hoped for, and in line with what Doug said. This is another incarnation of the Ryane Clowe situation from a couple of years ago- we’re not sure if you can take this to the next level, so we’ll give you one year, retain your RFA rights, and see what you can do. There’s no reason to lock up a guy as inconsistent as Seto has been the last year. He scored 31 goals two years ago (on a line with Jumbo) but last year, only 20. Doug Wilson has made two statements in the last week that crystallize his philosophy on this kind of thing. About Joe: “we want to create an environment where people want to stay,” and about Seto: “we have very high expectations.” Translation? You play well this year, meat, and show us you’re a top 6 forward all the time, and we will reward you next year. Could it be a sign-and-trade like the next guy? I doubt it.
Second good news- the Ducks trade their second best defenseman, James Wisniewski, who just got a $3.25M
arbitration award contract, to the Islanders for a third round pick. My first reaction- what a terrible deal for the Ducks. Makes me happy. I read Sleek’s post, and at least according to him, it’s about cash. But to me, you don’t give up your second best defensemen for a third round pick. Stupid. Now, after Visnovsky, the obvious #1, they have Toni Lydman, Luca Sbisa, Sheldon Brookbank, Brendan Mikkelson, and Danny Syvret. Think about that the next time you are bitching about the Sharks’ blue line. Bob Murray may be the best thing to happen to San Jose hockey in a long time.
The one loss is that Antti Niemi got a much lower arbitration award than we had hoped for- only $2.75M. This is probably low enough for the Hawks to do some more shuffling and fit him in somewhere under the cap. There’s little doubt that Huet and his $5M+ contract will be dumped in the minors this year, even if Niemi isn’t re-signed. There’s just no way for the Hawks to afford him, and can you say Huet will really be much better than a minor leaguer? The Hawks dodged a big bullet here- I though $4M was too much to wish for but over $3M was certainly in the cards.
The fourth piece of news is less polarizing – a two year, $2.5M extension for Jason Demers starting next year. He will still make $543k this year. Demers looks like a good young defensemen, one that hopefully will be a bargain a $1.25M a year from now. But it’s uncertain. I like Demers, hope he continues to improve, and this contract is movable if he doesn’t fit into the plans. It’s a safe signing, and not bad for the Sharks, so I call it a small win.
July 9th, 2010, 10:53 am
That Cup won't buy you any cigarettes up in here, but we'll take that pretty boy you got.
Sorry I haven’t posted lately, as we’ve said in the podcast, I’ve been out of town, and all the semi-interesting UFA stuff happened before I got back. This morning, I get the first juicy news since my illustrious homecoming. The Sharks have signed another difficult-to-spell person that no one expected. This time, it’s a different Scanadavian country, and a different position- the Blackhawks’ Niklas Hjalmarsson was signed to a 4 year, $14M offer sheet, per Bob MacKenzie. Hjalmarsson averaged almost 20 minutes of ice time in the #4 hole, behind Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Brian Campbell. I would be willing to wager (and I imagine DW does too) that Hjalmarsson would not be in that slot for 28 other teams (Philly possibly the only exception). Assuming this is true, let’s look at at Hjalmarsson’s RFA options from his perspective:
- Sign with cash-strapped Chicago for a sizable home town discount, even though they have already lost Kris Versteeg, Brent Sopel, John Madden, and Dustin Byfuglien.
- Get traded by Chicago to a team that offers the best deal to Stan Bowman, which is essentially a crap shoot. Look where Byfuglien ended up.
- Have some control over your future, and sign an offer sheet with a decent team for the kind of money that you are looking for.
Clearly Hjalmarsson chose #3, and who could blame him? Doug Wilson recognized this, and pounced. Now Stan Bowman, Chicago’s GM, is between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, he can retain his excellent young defenseman, but will likely have to trade Patrick Sharp or even more to get under the cap again. On the other hand, he lets NH go (I’m sick of typing Hjalmarsson), gets a 2011 1st 2nd and 3rd round draft pick in return (per TSN), and is in dire need of a #4, #5, and #6 defensemen. The draft picks will soften the blow, but keep in mind they come from the Sharks, which will likely be late round picks. No players are left in the upper twenties that are slam-dunk NHLers. Those picks could easily end up being Matt Pelech and Marc-Andre Gragnani.
This also asks the question- why didn’t the Sharks do this with with Antti Niemi? It’s a good question, but like many, the answer is money. I think that the Sharks only budgeted $2M or so for a goaltender, and Niemi would certainly want more than that. We will find out after Niemi’s salary arbitration.
It’s too early to go into the possible Sharks roster ramifications because Chicago could match the deal, and tomorrow will look just like yesterday. I’d put the chances of that right at 50-50. Could this spark another GM feud like the Brian Burke- Kevin Lowe dustup? Lucky for us, we have the first real taste of drama in the Sharks offseason.