Shake-up for Sharks?

Having come up short in the Western Conference Final for the second straight year, are big changes coming for the San Jose Sharks?

ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports the San Jose Sharks players, to a man, believe they’ll return to the Conference Final again next season. While LeBrun singles out Ryane Clowe, Logan Couture, Dan Boyle, Douglas Murray and team captain Joe Thornton for their strong performances in this year’s playoffs, he believes there were also too many passengers on the Sharks roster, singling out Dany Heatley, Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi for their inconsistency. Heatley and Pavelski’s struggles are troubling for the Sharks, and LeBrun wondered if the Sharks will re-sign RFA Setoguchi, or explore his trade value this summer. LeBrun also believes GM Doug Wilson needs to add another top-four defenseman in the off-season.

TSN.CA: Bob McKenzie however doubts the Sharks need to “blow up” their roster this summer, pointing out this was an “injured, banged up, battered” team which did its best, though he does feel there could be some “recriminations”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with the assessment of adding another top-four blueliner. Heatley’s play has significantly faltered but with his large contract ($7.5 million per season, for three more years), he’s not going anywhere. I also doubt the Sharks will move Pavelski, but Setoguchi’s inconsistency and RFA status could make him a potential trade candidate. It remains to be seen what moves Wilson makes this summer, but don’t expect him to stand pat.


  1. I was at the Staples Center for all three games between the Kings and Sharks in the playoffs. Pavelski didn’t look like a passenger to me. He looked like the guy driving the bus that ran us over. 10 points in 18 games is a pretty decent performance.

    But this article is an example of what I call the ‘New York Rangers Team Building Model’. You consistently chase high-priced free agents and replace player after player on the roster. After the team falls short of expectations, you single out players and repeat the process. In the NHL, this model does not work. One could write thesis on this.

    Last year, Navokov was the bad guy. So he was replaced with Niemi. Same results. So now Pavelski, Heatley, and Setoguchi are the bad guys and they need a premier defenseman. So what, Heatley out, Brad Richards in? Will the Sharks over-pay for Bieksa or somebody like that?

    The Sharks were not as good this year as they were in previous years. In previous years, they’ve run away with the Pacific Division. This year they didn’t look like they were going to win the Pacific until a late season slide by the Kings and Anaheim. Right up to the last game of the season, it appeared that all 5 Pacific teams would make the playoffs. Next year there is a very good chance that the Sharks will not win the Pacific.

    By all accounts the Sharks should have exited earlier. They were far from dominant against a Kings team that struggled down the road and lost their best player. Then they nearly blew a 3-0 lead and barely beat a very injured Red Wings team.

    They are welcome to churn their roster again. They’d be better off drafting well and working their young guys into the roster. Having Couture on the roster isn’t a bad start.

  2. Heatley was a real dud. His performance got better incrementally in every game, but that was only without the puck ( his defensive game). I know in the playoffs everyone needs to step up, but Heatley was MIA. It says to me that he is really only a one dimensional player, a sniper, and unless he has enough room on the ice to do what he used to be able to do, he is totally ineffective. He does not have the ability or desire to be a player with the moxie to step up when really needed. Its seems he finds it easier to score goals when nothing is on the line. I am sure though it will only be a matter of time before he decides that McLellan and his system are the underlying problem, not his lack of drive and effort.

  3. Dare I say Niemi. He looked so flustered in net at times, and his movement from side to side seemed sluggish, as if he was laboring. I think the Sharks are one of the few teams that would benefit from a short term fix with Vokoun in net.

  4. Wow jdbgigc – this is one the most honest and accurate assessments by a none sharks fan that I’ve seen. I couldn’t agree more! In all reality the Sharks need to realize that their current core just isn’t good enough and couldn’t seal the deal against injured teams and it cost them against the diving Canucks. In all reality, the only player the sharks should keep are Couture and McGinn. Make trades to restock the farm system w large mobile high scoring players on both sides of the puck.

    Unfortunately, what’s going to happen is, exactly what you said because wins sellout the tank. Their plauers have gotten small and/or slow. Boyle in no longer a #1 d-man and is undersized, but would be fine as a #2, but that would mean the sharks would need a large #1 who’s mobile. None of those on the FA or trade market. Heatley was by in large the teams worst PO performer yet again and I would love to see be gone and I’d take a 2nd round pick for him but I doubt his NMC will allow the Sharks to even get that good a deal. Seto isn’t that bad considering the team is getting slower in a faster paced NHL.

    Wilson’s model has always been to replace older less effective players w younger more effective & efficient ones. Pavs actually falls in this category now w the emergence of Couture, a much as I love Pavs heart, I would not be surprised if he’s the one moved. Please, no more huskins or Wallin. Bieska is kind of the type of player they need, but in all likelihood will be too expensive for his value.

  5. Sharks have two choices (a) play safe, move out old slowly, bring in youth slowly and stay near top but maybe not win cup or (b) trade youth as in players or draft picks and get the missing pieces and go for cup.
    One option is trade with Washington both teams have big names who don’t perform when playoffs come around, maybe a change of location would help Green, Heatley, etc, etc.
    Second option, they are a different team when Boyle is not on ice. They need a second offensive defenseman out there when Boyle is not. Karberle ? Perhaps an option is go after Lubomir Visnovsky of Ducks, who would really help them feeding the puck to their Top six forwarders but don’t think Murray would have the guts to trade him for youth and / or picks. Well Doug Wilson do you play it safe, have a good team next year BUT NOT WIN THE CUP or do you trade the future and go for it ?

  6. Well ladies and germs, once again that fickle bastard Lord Stanley has screwed me. I believed, I make sacrifices, I endure the slings and arrows of two nations for my beloved Sharks and what do you get?

    A damned team, that’s what I get.

    I now see that after Patrick Marleau having the captaincy taken from him, acquiring Dany Heatley, firing Ron Wilson, letting Malhotra walk, signing a third line center for $4 million, completely neglecting the 4th line, Using Nabokov as a scapegoat for the deficiencies of team defense, and not to mention the sad state our blueline is and has been, there can only be one solution:

    Fire Doug Wilson

    He knows as much of building a championship team as a Buddhist monk knows about fornicating. He’s paying Heatley $8 million to disappear when this team needed him most, he continues to waste money ($2.7mm for Wallin with an NTC?, $1.7mm for Huskins? Mitchell at $1.3mm? What the hell is that money for!?) while ignoring that Dan Boyle cannot play all 60 minutes. Murray can’t either and after that, the drop off in talent is like taking a tumble down the Mariana Trench. Ian White is the only one that could even have a shot at making a top 6 on a championship team.

    There is so much talent out there on defense this year, both in RFA and UFA pools. Bieska, Brewer, Ian White (I’d take him back), Errhoff (traded to make room for Heatley, irony defined), Andy Greene can chew up 22 minutes, many upgrades are out there, some for a lot less than $2.7 million.

    Then you get to the RFA’s and we have to get one of these four guys:

    Shea Weber
    Keith Yandle
    Drew Doughty
    Zach Bosigian (even if he spells his name funny)

    throw Dany Heatley money at one of these fools. Weber is WORTH $8 million a year, Heatley is stealing that a year. For hell’s sake, I could line up next to Couture or Thornton and pot 20 or 30 goals! And I’m a WAAAAY better skater than Heatley and actually KNOW we have a defensive zone that I have to at least skate in from time to time.

    In short: screw Doug Wilson for doing this to us and I hope our new GM addresses out the defensive corps. He/She will also have to figure out how to get rid of Heatley with is No Movement Clause. We can’t even demote him to the minors, another brilliant move!

    god go with the Canucks in the next round, because god know I won’t.

  7. Watching the series it seemed at times I was watching a totally different game than the announcers. Basically the twins could do no wrong. But the truth of the matter is that the Sharks were slow and looked beaten from game 2 on. Clowe played well until he was injured – when he came back he just was a nonfactor and his physicality was missing – I imagine he was still hurting and it makes me wonder if the Sharks would have been better off playing someone else. Pavelski and Setoguchi were work horses out there – but McClellan’s continual line shuffling never developed continuity. Heatly just plan sucked. For $7.5MM Heatly should have showed up. To say “His performance got better incrementally in every game” is unacceptable and the Sharks need to either put him on a line that complements his skills or trade him perhaps even eating part of his salary. The series also showed the deficiencies in the Sharks defense. Murray was horrible the last two games – he needs to play physical to compensate for his lack of speed and last night he often seemed confused and didn’t take the man out or arrived too late. He looked tired and worn out. So in my mind the Sharks need to get more speed on D as Boyle had to play all over the place and I’m not sold on McClellan. The other night when Vancouver scored 3 goals on 5/3 – McClellan should have called a time out and calmed his players down. We know there were two games in which the Sharks lost control and taking penalties resulted in games lost – McClellan didn’t control his players. McClellan has had 3 years – seems he has gotten as much out of his players as Ron Wilson did. With regards to Setaguchi – I would love for my favorite team (Sabres) to get him – Devin has skills, size, speed and leadership qualities. I also wouldn’t mind getting Clowe or Pavalski – any of the 3. I love the change Thornton has made with his style of play and leadership and I think the Sharks just have a couple of tweaks to make.

  8. First off, ZAKK THE BEAR WAHHHHH WAAHHH. Keep crying, and i’m sure you’d do great against Heatly and Thorton, not like they were gold medal olympians a year ago….

    Second, how plausible would a trade be like Cody Franson for Setoguchi? Sure Franson is still young, but he’s a great puck moving defenseman. Both are young and talented at their positions. Last year franson skated 80 games for 29 pts, a plus 10, and a minimal 30 pims.

    Thoughts anyone?

  9. I think Boyle had a decent playoff — he’s not going anywhere.. besides he has NTC. Thornton was great in these playoffs — playing with a separated shoulder last night took courage… he stays as well. He also has a NTC. I think Niemi played very well. He was the main reason, in my opinion, the Sharks beat Detroit.
    Marleau has a NTC. Heatley has a NTC.
    Boyle, Thornton, Marleau, Heatley make up about 28M of the salary cap… that is close to half of the 62M proposed salary cap next season.
    Couture, Seto, Pavelski, Clowe — they are good young players that I would keep if I was SJ and build around them.

    Good luck trying to get rid of Heatley. (Besides his dad’s friend works in SJ organization somewhere I believe). Heatley will go where he WANTS to go. If he does want out.. he will pick a team that he expects to win the Cup with and say I will only go there. Your team is then screwed. No matter what other deal you can make… he will veto it with the NTC until you give him what he wants. Sound familiar?
    It’s the facts.

    Heatley is a great goal scorer, there is no doubt.. as long as he can stand in the slot to accept the pass. But teams don’t let him do that anymore.
    The NHL has become very fast. Great young skaters.. and Heatley can’t keep up.
    It was rumoured he is not the best at off-season conditioning. If he really wanted to help his team he should work most of the off-season to improve his skating… like his buddy Spezza. Spezza is not the faster skater in the league… but he has improved a lot, as he spends his off-season trying to improve his skating.

  10. @ Steve,

    I agree with many of your comments, however when I said (referring to Heatley) “His performance got better incrementally in every game” , I never said it was acceptable, as it was most unacceptable. I was simply stating a fact and illustrating that giant leaps in his performance were required for him to have made his pay for performance remotely palatable.

  11. Heatley has to be one of the slowest forwards to ever make over 7 mil. a year. Astounding.

    I don’t think the Sharks can do much with their roster right now given the contracts they have, but they could make an ‘optics’ move for the fans by firing the coach and GM. Doug Wilson has done a good job building a consistent division winner, but he’s had plenty of opportunities to build a cup champion and has failed. And in the process he’s really handcuffed himself with some of those contracts.

  12. AdmiralSal, I think there could be some possibilty to a Preds/Sharks trade regarding Setaguchi. Preds certainly have plenty of Dman prospects in the system, so moving one for a goal scorer makes sense.

  13. Little Joe Pavelski a passenger?

    I don’t like the Sharks but he was no passenger; all Pierre LeBrun has just proven is you need more than French ancestry and Canadian media credentials to understand hockey.

    I also agree: Niemi didn’t make enough big saves or show any moving glove at the high goals.

  14. Bill – I can’t stand LeBrun and who the hell is he anyway? I have the hockey package and there are certain announcers that I just can’t stand to watch. A lot of times I would rather watch the locals. Even during the Detroit/Sharks series I thought JR was a little harsh. I don’t think he likes or respects Marleau as he has put his foot in his mouth before. I think the Detroit series really took its toll on the Sharks and by the time they played Vancouver they were beat up and tired. I also think Niemi was great throughout and again, I think the Sharks got him for a steal. Remember Niittymaki was signed to be the #1 goalie and I don’t think he is anywhere near as good as Niemi.

  15. Heatley needs someone to open the ice for him and to make the passes. His speed is a burden, but his hands and goalscoring knack are what make him worth the 7 million a season. Sure that seems like an offhand remark, but then if your willing to invest in the 7 million for someone who is not a franchise player, but rather a complimentary player, then you need to be comfortable investing in the set up man which is Thornton. Personally I think the 3rd man in this equation should be a power forward who can open up more ice and not Marleau.
    As for Devin Setoguchi, I think he’ll be shopped this summer since its not been a good fit in San Jose the last 2 years. Perhaps this is where the Sharks can pick up said power forward (Kunitz could be available….just saying).

  16. Haha…all you shark fans, who applauded when you “stold” Heatley from Ottawa. Now you are bashing him, all us sens fans knew he would disappear in the playoffs, as he has done for years in Ottawa. Now that he is being bashed by the SJ fans, he wasn’t even close to scoring 50 goals for you guys, and now he will cry all the way to management and demand a trade. quoting his role has been diminished, playing on the second line, etc…….haha, hope you enjoy Heatley now