rulururu
Two dudes blogging and podcasting about the San Jose Sharks, straight from sunny California.

post We Got Our D-Man

June 24th, 2011, 7:32 pm

Filed under: blog — Written by Doug

No Tooth. No Shirt. No Problem. I'm Brent Burns baby.

Really quick post. We’ll have more coverage on the podcast next week.

As we do every late-June, Mike and I sit around and watch the NHL Draft and lament how nothing happens for San Jose. There have been some big moves in the last 24 hours and the Sharks just joined the party in a major way.  San Jose landed a legitimate top pairing d-man in Brent Burns and a 2012 2nd rounder from Minnesota for Devin Setoguchi, top prospect Charlie Coyle and our 2011 1st round draft pick. A heavy price to pay, but think about it this way, the Sharks just got a player in Burns who led their team in time on ice, 2nd in PK time and 2nd in PP time. He is 6’5, hits, blocks shots and had 46 points last year with 17 goals. If Burns were a UFA on July 1st, he would have been the top rated defensemen on the market, in the Dudes’ opinions.

It should be noted that Todd McLellan coached Burns in the AHL in 2004-05, so he’s clearly familiar with the player and what he can offer. We’ve been begging for a partner for Boyle and we finally got him. It should be noted that with Burns on the team, the Sharks still have 9.5M in cap space (including the bonus cushion) and that’s plenty of room to add two quality 3rd line players on the UFA market, a position that Doug Wilson could be competitive in. I think it’s not too far fetched to expect Doug Wilson to be a major player on July 1st for impact 3rd line players like Maxim Talbot, Pascal Dupuis, Marty Reasoner, Scottie Upshall, Eric Belanger, Vernon Fiddler, or John Madden. Form a legit 3rd line that can take our top players to the next level, battle and do the dirty work while chipping in some key goals.

It’s a high price to pay but this could be a big first step for the Sharks 2011-12 run for the Stanley Cup. I’m riding the high. We got a #1 d-man for a 40 point forward, a really good college forward and an unknown prospect.

Have a beer on me. Brent Burns is a Shark kids.

post DOH 156 – Pre-Draft Madness

June 23rd, 2011, 11:00 pm

Filed under: podcast — Written by Mike

The draft isn’t until tomorrow, but plenty of stuff has happened in the NHL this week.  Mayers, Nichol, and Yawney will not return, but Seto will, at 3 years, $9M.  The dudes dissect that deal, and the two monster trades the Flyers made today.

post TLDR – Third Line Strategy

June 18th, 2011, 5:28 pm

Filed under: blog — Written by Mike

The first of several TLDR (too long, didn’t read) posts this summer concerns a key aspect of this Sharks team- the third line.  Generally on most teams, the third line is a defensively minded trio that should shut down the opponents’ best players, maybe contribute 20-25 points per player, and have the trust of the coaching staff to kick in some PK time.  However, some teams go another way, a road less traveled, yet more treacherous.  These teams like to continue to pour on the pressure in the offensive zone, field three scoring lines, and dare their opponents to keep up.

So where did the Sharks reside in this spectrum?  Mostly on the offensive side- Pavelski/Mitchell/Wellwood had some great scoring punch (102 points in the regular season, 22 in the playoffs, mostly due to Pavelski’s 66 and 10, respectively), but Pavs was the 2nd most used shorthanded forward, with Mitchell 6th.  And as many Sharks fans have noted, they did not serve a ‘shutdown’ role, T-Mac likes to match power with power.

This is pretty similar to Detroit’s style (sound familiar?).  Detroit’s third line this year was largely Hudler, Filppula, and Modano/spare parts, tallying around 100 points if we include Modano’s 15 points contribution in the 40 games he didn’t play.  Detroit went even more offensive with these guys- none of them played significant PK time.

Or we could look at Vancouver, as Tom mentioned in a comment in the last post, with Malhotra/Hansen/Torres (not always Torres, but probably close enough).  All agitators or defensively-minded, all tough to play against, all can play the kill.  Tom also accused us of flip-flopping a bit, since we seemed to endorse more of the Vancouver style third line instead of the Detroit model in the last podcast.  Admittedly, this would be a sea change for the Sharks.

My opinion is based on what a wise man once said to Woodward and Bernstein- “follow the money.”  I furtively wish that the Sharks could go and gather as many great players as they possibly can, pay them Yankees money, go win the Stanley Cup, and I’ll live out my days watching the championship DVDs over and over again.

Unfortunately, reality intercedes.  Two inconvenient truths:

  1. The Sharks defense is not amongst the best in the West.  In fact, it might be considered merely average.
  2. The Sharks do not have a lot of money to spare on said defense.

For me, it comes down to a question of salary mix.  Detroit is spending good money on their third line, around $7.5M, for the privilege of third line scoring punch.  And why can they afford it?  Because they are only spending around $24M on their top 6 forwards.  Vancouver had a good shutdown third line, for which they only spent an economical $4.5 or so.  And why?  Because they spent a ton on their D, about $24M.

In contrast, the Sharks spent only $18M on their defense last year, but they spent $24 on their top three forwards- Jumbo, Heater, and Patty.  Then another $7M and change on the second line, which was unquestionably a great deal.  Only the Kings and Caps spent more than the Sharks on forwards last year, and it was close- the Kings spent less than $100k more, the Caps spent about a million more.

So my opinion has to be based on this reality- the Sharks are extremely forward heavy in terms of salary distribution, and I believe a #2/#3 defenseman is their highest acquisition priority.  This means something has to give, and that must be the third line.  I don’t believe it’s wise for the Sharks to have a $4M third line center, even if he puts of 66 points.  You keep him, but he should be playing the second line.  Maybe that means Seto is the odd man out.  Or maybe it’s Pavs.  Or maybe it’s one of the big 3.  It would be incredibly difficult to make that call, and I don’t envy Doug Wilson’s position here.

The bad news is, I believe if the Sharks defense remains middle-of-the-pack, which it probably will be, even with Ian White, it will be the same old playoff slog next year.  The Kings are improving.  The Blackhawks will probably be better next year.  Vancouver might re-sign some or all of their free agents.  Now that Feaster is the GM, Calgary might do something worthwhile.  My new position is resources must be shifted.  They must be shifted to defense, and the third line should again serve a more traditional role.

Did I flip-flop?  Like a fish out of water on ketamine.  But as the proverb says, a wise man changes his mind, a fool never will.

post Dudes are Right On With D-Man – But He Goes to Wrong Team!

February 9th, 2011, 12:16 pm

Filed under: blog — Written by Doug

No Pronger, No Nieds, No Service.

Ian White is eating Cracker Barrel in the backwoods of Carolina.

James Wisniewski – Montreal, s’il vous plait.

Francois Beauchemin – Back to Anaheim where the Hills are Alive with the Sound of Selanne.

Our streak of picking available d-men to get moved  continues to be golden today as the Toronto Maple Leafs traded veteran blueliner Francois Beauchemin back to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Joffrey Lupul, former 2008 first round pick Jake Gardiner and a future 2013 4th round pick. This leaves one less impact defensemen on the open market for Doug Wilson to target in the coming weeks, but Toronto’s asking price (a top three prospect) is too high for my taste.

Jake Gardiner is the jewel of this deal, an unsigned college defensemen currently in his junior year at the University of Wisconsin and fresh off a three assist and +9 performance for the United States at the World Junior tournament in 2011. Gardiner was the Ducks first round pick in 2008 (when the Sharks went fishing for the Daniels twins from Northeastern University – we profile them this week in our podcast posted below) and he has real solid potential to be a very good professional hockey player and he could surface in the NHL as soon as next year next to Luke Schenn, if he signs an ETL at the end of the year. In order to get Gardiner, the Leafs had to give up a solid blueliner in Francois – but they also had to take out a bit of Bob Murray’s trash in the bloated contract of Joffrey Lupul and his 4.25M cap hit until 2012-13. Lupul is a solid 2nd line forward when healthy, but he has only suited up for 49 games since 2009 and has a disappointing 27 points in that span. Is it worth it to get Gardiner? In my opinion, yes. If you’re the Leafs, you invest in your future and Gardiner could be a major player on that team in the next three years. Burke is fully aware of Gardiner and his skills, he did draft the kid after all when he was GM of the Ducks in the summer of 2008.

So, we can imagine that Brian Burke told DW he wanted  something like Devin Setoguchi, Justin Braun or Charlie Coyle and a 4th round pick for Beauchemin. A hefty price for the French-Canadian d-man and a move I’m frankly shocked to see the Ducks make. Do they really think they have the horses, especially on their 2nd thru 4th forward lines, to make real noise in the playoffs? Nah. I think Bob Murray just made another boo boo and got taken by his former boss. Why break up the chance to have Gardiner, Fowler and Sbisa running around the Pacific Division for years to get a veteran guy who is better served on a Cup contender? With Murray, it’s not too surprising. “Stupid is as Stupid Does.” Just look at the Jason Blake deal (33 points in 78 games as a Duck while making 4M). Good job Bob. Throw another chair, just don’t hit my laptop.

Make sure to listen to the podcast this week and take part in the listener poll and let us know how you consume the Dudes on Hockey podcast. Mike loves stats and will spend hours pouring over the data as the Dudes continue their quest for Podcast Domination.

Join us next week when Joni Pitkanen gets traded to…somewhere else.

post DOH 115 – Hamburgers Helpers

September 15th, 2010, 8:15 am

Filed under: podcast — Written by Mike

In this episode, Mike and Doug talk about the DOH fantasy leagues, Sharks rookie camp, the plight of Sheldon Souray, and various other news.  In the Crazy Trade segment, could Setoguchi be good bait for a defenseman?

post DOH 110 – News Over Vacation

August 10th, 2010, 8:36 am

Filed under: podcast — Written by Mike

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.

post Three Out of Four Ain’t Bad

July 31st, 2010, 12:38 pm

Filed under: blog — Written by Mike

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.

post DOH 102 – Seto and Pavs

June 2nd, 2010, 8:47 am

Filed under: podcast — Written by Mike

The Dudes turn to the two big RFAs on the Sharks – Devin Setoguchi and Joe Pavelski.  Mike and Doug try to identify comparable players around the league, and estimate the kind of money required to sign them, as well as the threshold (if any) where the Sharks should let them go.  Also a rash of signings in the past week, and the Dudes give their take on what these young players might contribute to the big club in the future.

post Shaved Head You Get, Two In The Net

January 17th, 2010, 11:56 am

Filed under: blog — Written by Doug
Hello, I'm Devon SetoCleanGuchi. I score goals and remove stains.

Hello, I'm Devin SetoCleanGuchi. I score goals and remove stains.

If you can imagine the scene at Torrey Mitchell’s place this morning. The sound of a Flowbee at full speed. Locks of hair flying into the hallway. And a line up of Ryane Clowe, Rob Blake, hell even Jonathan Cheechoo flew in from Ottawa to get in on this goal scoring miracle.

Shaved Head You Get, Two In The Net. (Pizza not included)

The Sharks put forward a good effort against a pretty lousy team in the Edmonton Oilers, but the most encouraging thing was the rebirth of the Sharks secondary scoring – which is a major key to their long term success. With Seto netting two and Malhotra, Pavelski and Clowe getting in on the act on two of the goals must have resulted in a collective sigh of relief in the dressing room. Perhaps we should offer this head shaving solution to others in the world community. Hey Charlie Sheen, Kim Jong-il and those two losers who crashed the White House dinner – Torrey Mitchell’s Flowbee awaits and all your problems will go away.

As we look ahead to a more meaningful matchup against a better team on Monday night, the schedule makers have done the Sharks a favor. Calgary will have to play the Ducks, who have won six straight at home (are they slowly figuring it out? Don’t look now, but the Ducks are only 8 points out of the playoffs, gulp). The Flames might be beat up and ripe for the picking on Monday night and it’s a shot for the Sharks to make a statement that they can beat the good teams. While we’ve given the Sharks some grief for not playing well against the elite teams in the NHL, they are 2-0 against the last two division leaders they’ve faced, Chicago and Washington. A win over Calgary and Buffalo in the coming week will certainly make everyone feel better about this team’s chances against the quality clubs.

I’m off to Torrey Mitchell’s place to change my own luck…perhaps he should consider getting the buzzcut himself?

post Dammit, Tall Guy

January 15th, 2010, 7:58 am

Filed under: blog — Written by Mike

The story of last night was three guys, two of which you probably expected- Joe Thornton and Tim Thomas.  The third?  Daniel Paille.   This guy, who was drafted in the first round in 2002, was being ground into obscurity in Buffalo before being traded to Boston this year for a third and a fourth round draft pick.  Paille, who played not a single second on the power play (that would be zero point zero) managed seven shots and a goal, and from my vantage point, seemed to be either creating chances or in on them all night.  And although this article sings his praises in Boston, it’s about his prowess as a penalty killer, not as a offensive juggernaut, which he seemed to be last night.  I certainly noticed him much more than Marco Sturm, who played four more minutes and (allegedly) registered six shots.

Tim Thomas, being the unconventional, floppy goaltender he is, came up big several times, to keep the Sharks almost off the board, the only goal coming from a flukey loopy duck of a shot that fluttered over his head before big Joe put it in.  He did manage to crack the tough nut (I’m being sarcastic here) of Ryane Clowe in the shootout, not biting or freezing at all on Clowe’s forward fake, easily gloving Clowe’s predictable backhand roof shot.  Really Clowe.  It’s a great move.  Great.  But you need more than one, if only to give the appearance you’re not going to use it every single time.

So the title refers to Chara scoring in the shootout on a slap shot, a move about a predictable as Clowe’s.  As soon as I saw the lumbering Slovak throw his gigantic feet over the boards, I though to myself, “slap shot between the circles” and I was right.  Not that it takes a genius to figure that one out, he’s got fewer moves than the new guy on The Pickup Artist.  But the 87-inch stick (or whatever the hell it is, I’m sure it’s taller than Scott Nichol) flexed almost in half when he beat Nabby on the stick side.

The second line continues to struggle, with Seto gripping the stick so hard it’s leaving impressions.  There’s no fun in his game right now, it’s a grit-your-teeth, I-need-a-point-so-bad-I-peed situation.  I have no idea how you relax when you’re in a brutal slump in a contract year, but he has to find a way.  Yoga.  Trancendental meditation.  Mescaline.  Whatever.

With goaltenders in the game playing that well, it almost doesn’t matter who’s out (Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron) or how much you dominate in the faceoff circle (42-24, jeezus).  While it’s certainly disappointing, with Thomas and the new one-man wrecking crew Paille on their respective games, I actually feel fortunate the Sharks got a point.  But Clowe still needs a new move.

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