Heatley and Research News and a Little Speculation

UPDATE: Added article at end of post.

It looks like the third player in the Heatley 3-way will be the Canadians. Apparently, Eklund recently received the text message: “The Canadians need one more piece to make the deal with the Sharks and that piece is Patrick Sharp.” If this is true, you can say goodbye to Marleau as Murray (the Canadian GM) has been a big fan of him since day one (and wanted to pick him up even before Redden). And I don’t believe Sharp would be coming to SJ. The Sharks would probably receive Heatley+, Cheechoo and Sharp would go one way, and Marleau+ would go the other. That is, of course, all speculation, and the pluses don’t necessarily mean picks/prospects. I am under the impression there would be a lot of players involved in this one, including Michalek and Ehrhoff from our side as well. That all said, expect Heatley to give the final ‘No’ to Edmonton over the next couple of days.

In other news, I have seen various reports that the Sharks are also interested in Plekanec. It would be fairly consistent with the rumored Heatley acquisition, as both players have lost their credibility in their current organizations, and would likely play better with a fresh start. A change of scenery to a team with two of the best puck handlers in the league (Thornton and Boyle) would do them, and the Sharks a whole lot of good. Also look for Huet to be moved at some point (the Sharks don’t look like contenders, but he is undoubtedly a starter in the eyes of most GMs, and might need one more year to develop, but that should in no way hamper his tradability).

In Cheechoo news, if he is somehow not involved in the Heatley trade, the Islanders are still interested. In my personal speculation, I could see him go for Jeff Tambellini, and picks. However, to fill out that line I wouldn’t be surprised to see an effort for Chimera, potentially by giving away Ehrhoff (we do have two solid defensive prospects in Moore and Petrecki, albeit they are not quite ready—a 6C* and a 7.5C** respectively). These are all long-shot predictions, but would make sense considering the Shark’s financial situation—the trades would shed a bit more than a million off the cap, and a third line of Mitchell, Chimera and Tambellini would have some incredible speed.

Now for one of my outlandish opinions. I have one thing to say about the Marleau situation. My research (below), at least until finalized, hints at a home-town playoff boost, and Marleau is the only player we have who fits the criteria to be affected by it (if he is traded, we will have to wait for Pavelski and Setoguchi to mature. And now to throw in an outlandish analogy: a couple of years ago, there was one player in the league who received more criticism for his playoff performance from dozens of ‘experts’ than anyone I have seen in my time as a fan. That player was Steve Yzerman. They questioned his ability to lead the team nearly every year until 1997, until in his fourteenth season he won his first Stanley Cup. Marleau can, and likely will get there if he stays on this team and the fans support him. Maybe not as a captain, but as an undoubtedly productive asset. And in case you forgot just how good Yzerman is:


In other news, I am more or less through the statistical analysis and the findings are better than expected. All of the coefficients and equations are statistically significant, meaning that everything legitimately holds weight. If you’re not interested in the statistics, I will include a concluding write up at the end of the paper that sums up my findings.

*6C: a 5-6 Defenseman who could potentially fall two categories without development

**7.5C: a 2-4 defenseman who could potentially fall two categories without development

Just found a good article that restates what we already know, although it is nice to hear Nabby would be willing to be traded:

Sharks’ G.M. preaches patience on overhaul

By Mark Emmons

Posted: 07/18/2009 10:07:15 PM PDT

Torrey Mitchell was signing autographs last week at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Sharks Cage restaurant at the San Jose airport’s new Terminal B when a fan posed a question.

“Do you know if No. 12 is going to be traded?” the man asked, referring to Sharks captain Patrick Marleau.

“I have no idea,” Mitchell responded. “I’m kind of the same way as everybody else right now.”


As the summer progresses, the lingering topic of Sharks discussion continues to be this: What big changes, if any, are coming?

While it has become clear that Marleau’s captaincy is in doubt, whatever else might happen remains shrouded in mystery.

General Manager Doug Wilson promised a retooling of the roster after the disastrous first-round playoff loss to Anaheim ruined a Presidents’ Trophy-winning regular season and solidified the franchise’s reputation as postseason underachievers. While Wilson has cut ties with eight players, the blockbuster moves that many fans are clamoring for have yet to materialize.

“I’ve been asked that a lot, about whether or not I’m staying and what the rumors are,” goalie Evgeni Nabokov said after a recent workout at Sharks Ice. “People think the players have the scoop, but we don’t. There’s only one guy who can answer that.”

And that man — Wilson — is famously closed-mouth. But he doesn’t mind one bit if the current Sharks are a little nervous about their immediate futures.

“If they’re uncomfortable, then so be it,” he said. “They can expect to continue to be uncomfortable. A lot of players told me what they intend to do after last season. But I don’t want to hear anymore talking. I want to see it. If our group is uncomfortable, I say deal with it.”

There are two bits of news.

# Marleau, who has been a lightning rod for criticism, said he and Wilson have talked about if he should remain the team’s captain.

“We’ve discussed some things and I’m waiting to see how that unfolds,” he said. “But I’ve told Doug that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get this team to the next level.

# Both Nabokov and Marleau said they have not been asked by Wilson to drop the no-trade clauses in their contracts. But Nabokov said he would if the G.M. requested it.

If the organization wants me to leave, I will leave,” Nabokov said. “I would never stay with an organization that didn’t want me.”

For his part, Wilson is well aware that a portion of the fan base is upset that the Sharks didn’t make significant moves at the June draft and since the July 1 opening of free agency. The team has resigned Ryane Clowe, Rob Blake and Kent Huskins. But the only new face so far belongs to fourth-line center and pest Scott Nichol. That has resulted in grumbling that Wilson’s moves are more tinkering than an overhaul.

But Wilson believes — and longtime Sharks observers have heard this before — that it’s foolish to dive into free agency because of the tendency to overpay players. He prefers to change the roster through trades, and Wilson notes that the deals for Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle each was the result of more than a year of negotiations.

The Sharks were interested in Chris Pronger, but Anaheim wouldn’t trade the defenseman within the Western Conference and instead dealt him to Philadelphia.

“I get the idea of instant gratification and people not understanding why we’re not doing everything today,” Wilson said. “But this team only needs to be built by the trade deadline. Big deals take time and patience. You have to wait for the moons to align.

“Are we done? No.”

The Sharks are bumping up against the NHL’s $56.8 million salary cap. But Wilson contends he has not painted himself into a corner — “I can make one phone call and be well under the cap” — even though the Sharks presumably have more players to sign, starting with restricted free agents Mitchell, Thomas Greiss and Brad Staubitz.

He notes that teams don’t have to be under the cap until opening night. And in the bigger picture, he added, the Sharks are well positioned for the league-wide financial storm that is approaching.

The bad economy is expected to significantly shrink the cap in 2010, leaving many teams in a bind. Wilson said the Sharks won’t have that problem because contracts such as the ones belonging to Marleau, Nabokov and Blake will be expiring.

“We have considerable flexibility in 2010, with almost $20 million coming off the cap,” Wilson said. “Other teams don’t have that. There are going to be a lot of players available later in this upcoming season because of what 2010 is going to bring.”

As for what the Sharks might do, Wilson remains tight-lipped. He’s clearly not happy that the Columbus Blue Jackets leaked word that they offered left wing Jason Chimera for Sharks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. (Wilson declined to comment on the Columbus Dispatch report that he turned down the deal.) He also has nothing to say about the speculation of San Jose as a possible destination for Dany Heatley, the forward who has demanded a trade out of Ottawa.

“I’m not talking about somebody else’s player, period,” Wilson said. “I’d be furious if another team talked about Joe Thornton or Dan Boyle, and I would file tampering changes.”

That mentality is why players say that even they are in the dark. Mitchell said he’s confident he will sign a contract soon. But he can only shrug his shoulders when asked about any of his teammates.

Devin Setoguchi, who also fielded questions from inquisitive fans at the airport ceremony, warned that anything can happen. “Moves could happen in August,” he said. “They could happen in November. Or they could happen next week. You just never know.”

One thing the players do know: The public isn’t happy.

“I’ve never been one to hide, and obviously some people are still sour,” Nabokov said. “But they need to know that the whole organization is sour. We are as upset as anyone. I’ve had some long conversations with some fans, and I really admire their passion — even if we sometimes don’t like what they say.”


~ by mitchsolomon on July 19, 2009.

5 Responses to “Heatley and Research News and a Little Speculation”

  1. I seriously doubt that the Sharks are even thinking of Heatley. It wasn’t just that Pollak denied their interest in that the org is famously closemouthed. The comment by Doug that he was watching his budget for next year because of the strong potential for a drop in the cap. I do not expect to see big incoming salaries that don’t expire at the end of the season.

    Heatley would likely be a detriment to the record of the team. However, he would have tremendous production which would likely have everyone ignoring other issues. IMO, it would be better to flatten the salary structure of the team rather than making it even more top heavy.

  2. I absolutely agree. I 100% believe that Marleau will be more effective for this team than anyone who could ever be brought in from outside. And I am soon to post a bit of research that essentially ties Stanley-Cup/Post Season success to the number of top players that were developed within a team rather than acquired. Now this doesn’t mean it does not make sense from Heatley’s perspective, but as the Sharks GM, I would be very hesitant to even consider this (unless it was a steal and there was a means of renegotiating the contract).

    I would much rather see a focus on the development of the core of the team. The roster is in desperate need of some size in addition to Murray (and Nichol sure doesn’t cover that), some speed to match with Mitchell and Marleau, and one more scorer (but that doesn’t mean 7.5 million of scoring).

  3. My take on the likely moves. Cheechoo is gone . . . period. Minimally one other player will have to be moved to make cap room. From all the talk it is one of Clowe, Ehrhoff, Michalek and Vlasic in that order of likelihood. If Michalek is moved, they have to add a PK specialist and speed. The others can be covered by players in the system.

    I checked the FAs out there. The top PK guy still left is Malhotra. Two cheap third line scoring wing options are Bayda and Perrin. Unless there is a major trade in addition to what is above, Doug will not have more than $1mil/spot. I agree that Doug has decimated the farm system and that he has to rebuild that to make the team as a whole better. I don’t think there are any miracle trades in the market.

    IMO, there are at least 5 teams out there including the Rangers, Sharks, Chicago and a couple of others that have to move before the start of the season. It is a buyers market. Columbus and Montreal are waiting until everyone is desperate and they will take the best deal. Doug and the other GMs are playing a losing game of chicken.

  4. Do you really think Clowe before Ehrhoff? Clowe was signed under the premise that he was going to be in San Jose for the next four years and not as a sign-n-trade (see quote from signing on Shark’s homepage). I agree w/ the Michalek theory, but that PK guy would likely be involved in that trade, and it would likely be packaged w/ Cheechoo for greater cap relief. Not to mention an unproven player who has shown he is capable of big scoring + a fast, physical center is pretty appealing to most teams–that is a quality 2nd line on any team.

    And yes, there are a lot of teams out there who are going to capitalize on all of the teams battling the cap. But, and I’m basing this on DW’s history and his interview in the Merc, that he isn’t going to be short changed. He will get something in return for anything he gives up… and it will be something he views as a win, not a best case scenario

  5. I kept going through all the pieces on Clowe and Ehrhoff and they are close. The two items that work against Clowe are that he has twice taken DW to the cleaners on contracts. As much as we would like it to be forgive and forget, I don’t think it put him in a good light. The second item is the DUI; that has been an issue beyond Bell and the org has been less than happy about it in the background. There are other players no longer with the Sharks who had to be bailed out of situations.

    On PK guys, DW learned the hard way before Grier that there are very few elite PK guys in the league. Poor PK killed the Sharks before Grier. There are maybe 15 elite PK guys in the league and a couple just signed as FAs so they aren’t moving.

    DW is saying he won’t be shortchanged, but past history indicate that he has been. He got worked on the Boyle trade with competition. I knew the prelimary offer, the real deal was much higher. He had to put McLaren in the minors after he rejected an “inferior” deal and then couldn’t move him. I don’t think SVSE is going to react kindly to paying NHL salary to AHL players. Differentiate between the spin and the reality. Burke is the only GM of whom I am aware that has pulled off miracles in a similar situation, and it still cost him.

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