Looking at what’s ahead (since playoffs are not as fun as they could be) I’m looking at upcoming UFA/RFA for the Sharks.
UFA’s I want gone:
John Scott, while funny and I’m sure is a very nice man, is nothing but a goon and has probably peaked with 3 goals in a season.
Niemi has outlived his welcome and is nothing but average. He’ll be a fabulous backup somewhere else in the NHL or go over to a European league/KHL, but he has no business being a starter anymore.
I have a feeling Hannan retires after this season, if not then he’ll have a hard time finding a job unless some team really does need a veteran presence on the blueline that will play very limited minutes in a limited amount of games. Looking at you Chicago.
UFA that I want to stay:
Matt Irwin, he’s the only one and has shown so much improvement from 2014 to 2015. Went from 2 goals and 19 points in 62 games with a +5 to 8 goals and 19 points in 53 games with a +3. He went through dry spells and was a healthy scratch quite often. Not until we traded Demers and Hannan was injured did he really get his time to shine with 16 of his 19 points coming in that time frame. Not saying he should get a giant contract or anything, but if he can find a way to continue this trend he’ll be a solid 3rd pairing guy. It’ll also help to have him not paired with Hannan, who is slower than molasses, but have him paired with Tennyson or a similar player. For example: even strength CF% jumps from 46.7% with Hannan to 53.7% with Tennyson. That also looks worse with the eye test than it does on paper as well. Irwin, when used properly, is a valuable player for what he is and I’d like to see him stay. Unless of course we can get a really really good return for him. But whoever could possibly trade him for better be an upgrade or what’s the point. He finally started playing like I thought he’d be capable the few seasons before.
Long list of RFA’s:
Brenden Dillon. Holy crap he’s good. He’s a big boy at 6’4 225 and he’s only 24 years old. He still has a lot to learn and can be just as much of a defensive liability as Burns, but this can and should be taught out of him. He may always be subject to little mistakes, but with help can minimize these. Especially if the team does what’s right and moves Burns back to forward and then Dillon won’t run the risk to be paired with him. The fancystats numbers don’t show it quite so much (they do have their flaws with all the good they can do), but this pairing was the most disastrous, which is probably why they switched him to be teamed up with Braun after a time. He has a bright future ahead of him and DW or whoever replaces him will be an idiot to not kick him down a contract.
Melker Karlsson. I cannot say enough good things about this kid and take to calling him #SwedishPavs. He has amazing vision and hockey smarts and is always at the right place at the right time. So similar to Pavelski it’s ridiculous. I know, and have been told many times by others in hockey twitter, that his numbers are most likely inflated by simply being on the same line with Joe Thornton. They also say this about Pavelski. But I truly believe Pavs can score a 30-40 goal season centering his own line. I also believe Karlsson can do just as well on the 2nd or 3rd line. Our lack of depth is a problem and his wonderfulness helps this. I don’t think he’ll slow down next season being on a different line and prove the naysayers wrong. And unless there is a drop in his play, I will continue to refer to him as #SwedishPavs.
Fedun, Stollery, Rumpel. Fedun could develop into a solid 3rd pairing defenseman, Stollery I know next to nothing about, and Rumpel is a goalie who has an amazing name. Seriously…his name is Rumpel. How awesome is that. Goaltending will forever be an issue and the best thing would be to develop from within. I don’t know too much about what goes on as far as the AHL level, but apart from trading them away for whatever, I see all of these guys sticking around and I look forward to see them when I go to Barracuda games next year. (I also really want to see Goldobin play and if they don’t fuck him up, this is where Goldy will be playing)
With all that being in the Sharks court (so to speak) the free agency market could be very interesting this year. Depending on how cap-strapped other teams get. I am just hoping beyond hope that DW or his replacement actually do something worthwhile and benefiting the team, unlike last years signing of John Scott. Defense/Goaltending are where it’s needed more but a stud forward (again…if Burns isn’t moved back there like he should be) would be pretty dope. Like the pipe-dream of somehow stealing away Saad from Chicago or lucking out and getting a top pick in the draft and drafting McDavid or Eichel. I just don’t want a repeat of this past season because that was fucking brutal to watch most of the time.
Another thing of note (while I’m thinking about these things) is all the talk I hear of how Couture and Marleau don’t get along. No one can show me anything in writing or interviews and it’s all “off the record” stuff. Apparently this is common knowledge and just begs the question: Why are they on a line together when team chemistry is in question? For a stretch Marleau and Pavelski switched lines and the team was not the worse for it during that stretch. I’m having trouble finding the numbers but if I remember right, I was questioning why they switched back. It’s just more reasons why the season has been a clusterfuck and another in a growing list of things to fix in the offseason. It’s also why, even though he’s a favorite of mine, I’d be OK (depending on the return) if we traded Cooch in the offseason. He had a quietly good year and posted up more points than even Thornton, although if he hadn’t bee injured that might not be the case.
(Update edit: “chemistry” may not be the right word to use in this situation, I only am using this in reference to what DW said about the players saying they felt like coworkers and not teammates. And the pair of Cooch and Patty did not play as well this season as before, mainly because of Patty’s down year, but unless they’re producing ,which they weren’t most of the time, why keep two guys who don’t like each other on the same line? that was all I was saying.)
But there’s so much time to talk about this, I’m sure we’ll all be sick of it by the time it happens.
Also, looking at contracts, seeing Mike Brown having one year left fills me with dread. I’m all for fighting in the game, but not for guys who have no value other than to fight. Goons are so last millennium and need to be done away with. If we can even get a bag of pucks or a coupon to Tim Horton’s, I’ll take it.
PS. Still irrationally upset we traded Demers, no matter how awesome Dillon is.