Wednesday, July 10, 2013

We'll Get Them Next Time , Boys!

We'll Get Them Next Time , Boys!

Is what the Sharks possibly told each-other after they pooped their collective pants in game 7.
It's what athletes do, even when they don't necessarily believe it, to try to lessen the pain of defeat, the crippling burning of failure that should burn the inside of any and all losers (although with the core of this team it's quite possible they have become numb to said pain .. but now I'm speculating).
It's the off-season, teams are gearing up for next "year", they trim fat, dump useless ballast and reload with fresh and energizing talent in their quest for the ultimate prize. 

And so do the Sharks!

Or do they?
Well let's see at what they have done so far.
Draft day. This is a day when teams line up and pick the future stars of hockey from a pull of youth. It's a day when a team's scouting personnel's keen eyes get their day of glory and a day when a team's GM and his staff get to show their vision.
It is also a day when, historically speaking, Mr Wilson has gotten ... mixed results, shall we say. Many years of dumping picks for band-aids or failed experiments or purely wasting them to jump up a few spots to get a guy they would have gotten anyway, while jumping over better prospects in the process, have left the Sharks cupboard VERY bare when it comes to top end or even mid-range talent. Or any talent if you really want to be honest. 
But no matter the past, the future is looking at us in the eyes, and the Sharks start the day with a lot of picks and with their lessons learned.
That is why the Sharks first move is:  trade one of their 2nd rounds picks for Tyler Kennedy's rights. So what, you say, but the guy was a decent producer at one point, for the Pens. Won a cup with them and all that jazz. Yea but see, in the mean time his production dropped and suffered a concussion that sort of neutered him to an extent. And don't forget who he played with in  Penguin land. And he was due a contract as well. And that he was a healthy scratch at length during the playoffs. The Sharks had guys on the team that pretty much emulated his numbers of late. Why the need for ? .. oh never mind let's move on, the Shark's will pick in 15 more minutes. 
Except they didn't because they just traded up TWO SPOTS giving up ANOTHER 2nd round pick to "get their guy", Mirco Mueller.  All respects to Mirco and his mobility on defense but that trade makes him a lot more "valuable" than the top 3 draft picks since they were worth only one first round pick , compared to our Mr Mueller who is now forever known as the kid worth two picks : a 1st and a 2nd. You better come in, play right away and be fantastic at it awhile score 20+ goals this season because, kid, that's what Doug thinks you're worth. Now, some will say : Wilson did it because CBJ were going to pick Mueller. Ok so? there were other players in the draft, some of them very promising  natural Left Wingers .. you know, the kind the Sharks sorely need . And then you trade up and you don't get Mantha who is a beast of a kid and if developed right could have a better impact than some of not all the top 5 picks? 
But the point is, another wasted pick. All of a sudden, the multitude of options at 2nd round, the possibility to do a little extra restocking went pretty much out the window.
Now truth be said I do like some of the Sharks later picks but there were two more players on that 2nd round list that could have been in the Sharks development camp this summer/fall.
So , yet again, Doug Wilson sticks to his reckless and, some would say, ruinous" habits of wasting chances. Because that is what the draft is: a process in which you stock up on chances.  Some people like to give themselves as many chances as possible, as little as they are. Not Doug Wilson, he bets all his money on 33 black, all the time.
That is ok, some would say. Doug will get them through free agency. 
Okidoky, let's move on to that. But first, there is a trade. T.J Galiardi has been traded to the Calgary Flames for a 4th round pick. In 2015. That really happened.
I understand that getting Kennedy might have made T.J. expendable, but ... giving up a 2nd round pick in a year with a good and deep draft class for someone you could probably have had on the open market , while basically dumping a guy who , by basic numbers, is really not worse, especially when you take in consideration, again, who Kennedy played with.
But what is done is done, free agency starts and:
 Greiss signs with Phoenix. No real surprise there, the Sharks have handled this guy absolutely horrific. They promised him many things, delivered him none, they left him without a goalie coach at a time when he really needed one, they shipped him to Sweetieland for a season so they can have their "Battle of the 1A and 1B Finnish goalies" in net, and that right after the whole summer they told him he's actually going to do battle with Nitty for the #1 spot. But Doug went and got the Sloth instead and buried Greiss on a team with horrible D. 
I am sad and glad at the same time. Grease Lightning ( as fans have taken to calling him) has now a new, possibly last, chance. He's going to work with a real goalie coach and could fix his issues and actually become a decent backup goalie in the NHL for years to come. The chance is small, as he's going to play behind Mike Smith who has been good in the last two years so not much playing time is going to be given to Greiss .. but who knows. Best of luck to you!
And then the Sharks go on and break the bank on .. absolutely nobody. They made the signing of Couture official, they did sign Kennedy, they kept Hannan for one more year and, of course, they signed Stalock the Saviour. And again they play the friggin slimy political games they did before, they announce there will be a "battle" between Stalock and Sateri on who is going to play with the big boys and who stays in Woostah. No they are not, you know damn well you'll give the job to Stalock, Wilson, why the lies? Stop acting so friggin "corporate" ... it doesn't suit you. And maybe that is what is needed, since Stalock will not see much playing time while Sateri will have a chance to get better as the actual starter in Woostah.
Except he probably won't ... he'll probably get worse ... since he's working with such a great goalie coach. 
This team, a team that once was a good goalie farm, is not a complete mess in goal. There is no real goalie coach with the big club( Wayne Thomas was/is/will always be clueless, besides he's too busty being a suit)  while in Woostah they have a guy that, judging by his results, really isn't very good, while their drafting of goalies has died. The Sharks goalie program died with the late Warren Strelow. What a shame!
Probably the most exciting news of the off-season, so far, is the announcement that Thomas Hertl will come to play hockey in North America. the Sharks org and fans alike can't wait what this kid is capable of. The Sharks seem to have opened up a spot for him, and they are banking on him coming in and making a difference.
Except this kid never played on an NHL rink. Or against the best hockey players in the world. He has seen success , it's true, but in a rather, inferior league where the speed of the game is .. well slower, and the checking is not really hard. He has found success by finding time and space on the ice. The kind of time and space he will surely have a lot less of in NHL. How will his game translate? Nobody knows but to assume it will be a smooth transition is very very optimistic. And then there is his skating. He has worked on it since he was drafted, but it is lacking still. He will have to get on that if said game translation is to be made smooth.
So there are hurdles with this kid but everybody and their dog is looking forward to seeing what will come out of him. and we all hope he'll have an instant impact and make the Crosby's of the world look like fools :) hehehehe

But WAIT .. STOP THE PRESSES .. the Sharks have signed their own product, a legend in becoming and a long time fan favorite, Rob Davison.

who has played in Europe most recently\
and not very good at that

and it's a two way contract


And there you have it. Up till now, it looks like the Sharks plan on addressing their issues ( scoring drought from top to bottom, slowness, predictability, immobility, depth and so on) so evident at times in the playoffs, with question marks like Kennedy and Hertl, while their core is getting older and slower and their production is diminishing rapidly. YEEEEEEY in Dougie we trust!

As fans, we can all hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Because , as of right now my prediction for next season : Second round, nice knowing you.