Monday, June 29, 2009


Here is a list of players that GM Doug Wilson might move this offseason. Also, barring Clowe and potentially Marleau, it is a list of players who the Sharks do not really need to keep in my opinion. Depending on how many of these players Doug Wilson wants to move, he can actually clear anywhere up to 38 million dollars of cap space for this next season just from clearing out all the players listed below. I'm not suggesting he free up all 38 million, but he could if he so desired.

Here is how it all shakes down. The cap numbers listed here are from They may not be accurate to every $500,000 but they are close enough to illustrate how, if Doug Wilson wants, he can make plenty of cap room to bring in new and improved players (at a price, of course, but not as steep as one might think). Without further adieu, here is the list.

Patrick Marleau~ 6.3 mil salary cap hit per annum

Milan Michalek~ 4.3 mil salary cap hit per annum

Jonathan Cheechoo~ 3.0 mil salary cap hit per annum

Ryane Clowe~ 1.6 mil salary cap hit per annum

Jeremy Roenick~ 1.1 mil salary cap hit per annum

Travis Moen~ .912 mil salary cap hit per annum

Marcel Goc~ .775 mil salary cap hit per annum

Jody Shelly~ .725 mil salary cap hit per annum

Tomas Plihal~ .500 salary cap hit per annum

Claude Lemieux~ .500 salary cap hit per annum

Rob Blake~ 5 mil salary cap hit per annum

Christian Ehrhoff~ 3.1 salary cap hit per annum

Alexei Semenov~ .650 salary cap hit per annum

Kent Huskins~ .625 salary cap hit per annum

Doug Murray~ 2.5 mil salary cap hit per annum

Evgeni Nabokov~ 5.375 salary cap hit per annum

All of those salaries add up to approximately 38 million dollars of cap space for next season when you also add in the small amount of cap space the Sharks already have.

Obviously Doug Wilson is not going to move all of the players listed. But this just shows the maximum (logical) amount of cap space he could create to bring in new players if he moved absolutely everyone that has been talked about potentially leaving. 38 million may sound like a crazy number, but if he moved most of these players, the Sharks would be taking salaries back too. What that means is we would never see 38 million in free cap space all at once because he would be moving some salary out as well as some salary in at the same time. This illustrates that if Doug Wilson wanted to go with a huge blow-up of the team, without trading the Thornton's, Pavelski's, and Boyle's (not that the Sharks have multiple Thornton's, Pavelski's, or Boyle's - if only), he would be able to free up more than enough cap space to bring in plenty of new, high-end talent.

But, of course, 38 million is a much bigger 'blow up' than Doug Wilson will actually end up going with, and rightly so. But unfortunately, he will likely fall victim to the opposite problem - not going big enough with his personnel changes. What is so great about big changes, you ask? I am here to show you with this blog entry.

Either through trades or by just letting players leave to go be free agents (and/or by waiving some of the lesser impact players under contract if no one would trade for them, such as Jody Shelly in all likelyhood, for instance), here are the players I would get rid of if I was the Sharks GM. This blog post also maps out what I would do with all the cap space after moving out those certain Sharks' players.

I would either trade, waive, or not re-sign the following players:

Milan Michalek~ 4.3 mil cap hit per annum

Jonathan Cheechoo~ 3 mil cap hit per annum

Mike Grier~ 1.775 mil cap hit per annum

Travis Moen~ .912 mil cap hit per annum

Jody Shelly~ .725 mil cap hit per annum

Claude Lemieux~ .500 mil cap hit per annum

Alexei Semenov~ .650 cap hit per annum

Kent Huskins~ .625 cap hit per annum

Doug Murray~ 2.5 mil cap hit per annum

Evgeni Nabokov~ 5.375 cap hit per annum

Those are the players I would not have back next season.

I would try to resign Rob Blake for around 1.5 mil per season. But you readers might find problem with that and he probably would too. So let's go on the high side and say I would be forced to give him a contract with a 3 million dollar cap hit. After either trading, waiving, or letting walk the players listed above, and after signing Rob Blake to a 3 million dollar cap hit contract, I would be left with 20.362 million dollars of cap from clearing those players. Add to that the 2 mil in cap room I saved by decreasing Rob Blake's cap hit from 5 mil to 3 mil, and also the approximately 1 mil of cap space the Sharks already had, and I would have a total of approximately 23 million in cap space to work with, and that is without even moving Marleau, Ehrhoff, or Vlasic, to boot.

(Side Note: I would also get Roenick to come back on the same 1.1 million dollar cap hit he had last season by promising him 15 minutes of ice time a game and a much improved roster for the upcoming season, and a much better chance at winning a Cup than he has ever had in his career. Also important to note is that the left and right wing positions listed in this blog entry are interchangeable).

Here is what the roster would look like after jettisoning the aforementioned list of players, and before replacing any of them (rows of x's indicate an open position on a line):

On offense:

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - xxxxxxxx

Devin Setoguchi - Joe Pavelski - xxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxx - Jeremy Roenick - xxxxxxxx

Marcel Goc - Torrey Mitchell - Tomas Plihal

On defense:

Dan Boyle - Christian Ehrhoff

Rob Blake - Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Brad Lukowich - xxxxxxxx


xxxxxxxxx, Brian Boucher

And the following is what I would do to with all of the freed up cap space in this scenario. It is important to remember that what I am about to illustrate is 100% possible in real life. Even if I just gave away all of those players I listed for nothing but the cap space they would free up, this would still be entirely possible. In other words, if Doug Wilson had thought of this and wanted to do this, he could.

I will illustrate going from offense to defense to goaltending.

I would first re-sign Ryane Clowe for say 3 mil per season. This may prove to be a little high (in comparison to what he might end up getting in real life), but I want to show all of you, my dear readers, that the team can be improved even with these hypothetical higher offers (because no reader will believe low offers, or even normal ones).

So I would sign Ryane Clowe for a 3 mil per annum cap hit, and my available cap space would go from 23 mil down to 20 mil. Here is what my offense would look like with Clowe signed.

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - xxxxxxxx

Devin Setoguchi - Joe Pavelski - xxxxxxxx

RYANE CLOWE - Jeremy Roenick - xxxxxxxx

Marcel Goc - Torrey Mitchell - Tomas Plihal

I would then offer Martin Havlat somewhere between 5.5 mil per annum and 7 million per annum. I would talk with him to see what he would settle for. Let's just say, for example, that he would settle for 6.5 million per annum. That is a bit steep for Havlat, and a bit more than he will likely end up getting in real life, but that is what makes it a great example in this scenario. After signing him to a contract with a 6.5 million dollar cap hit, my cap space would go down from 20 million to 13.5 million.

And just a reminder to you, my dear readers - this would not all be happening at once. I am just explaining it that way because it the simplest to illustrate, and to understand. The way it would likely be done in real life would be, just for example, by clearing around 4 million in cap space, then spending 3 million, then clearing up 5 million in one move, and then another 5 million in another move, and then spending 6.5 million on a player (Havlat, for example), and then clearing up however much more, and spending that on a few players, et cetera. But I will continue to explain it the way I have been, step by step, just to make it easier to understand.

But back on topic. After adding Havlat I would have 13.5 million of cap space left to spend, and my offensive lines would look like this:

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - xxxxxxxx

Devin Setoguchi - Joe Pavelski - MARTIN HAVLAT

RYANE CLOWE - Jeremy Roenick - xxxxxxxx

Marcel Goc - Torrey Mitchell - Tomas Plihal

With 13.5 million of cap space left, I would then offer Marian Gaborik or Marian Hossa 8 mil per season. In either case it would be a big overpayment, but I am trying to prove a point here, which is that even if I overpaid these players, I could still build the best roster in the NHL.

Let's say I offered the 8 million per season to Marian Hossa, and that he accepted. My cap space would then go from 13.5 mil per season to 5.5 mil per season, and my offensive lines would like like so:

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - MARIAN HOSSA

Devin Setoguchi - Joe Pavelski - MARTIN HAVLAT

Ryane Clowe - Jeremy Roenick - xxxxxxxxx

Marcel Goc - Torrey Mitchell - Tomas Plihal

Richard Zednik made 1.75 mil last season. Of my 5.5 million in remaining cap space, I would sign him for 2.5 million a season. My cap space would then go from 5.5 million to 3 million, and my offensive lines would look like this:

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - MARIAN HOSSA

Devin Setoguchi - Joe Pavelski - MARTIN HAVLAT

Ryane Clowe - Jeremy Roenick - RICHARD ZEDNIK

Marcel Goc - Torrey Mitchell - Tomas Plihal

Note: I have heard rumors that Zednik is going to Russia this next season. If Zednik was unavailable I would have no trouble finding another suitable third line player for 2.5 million per season (which is much more than the average 3rd line player gets paid).

I would then have 3 million in cap space left to add a goaltender and a 6th defenseman. I do not need to sign a 7th defenseman - although I could if I wanted to, because Joslin and some others in the Sharks development system (Petrecki, et cetera) are always available to call up if one of the regular NHL six gets injured).

Here are my current defensive lines:

Dan Boyle - Christian Ehrhoff

Rob Blake - Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Brad Lukowich - xxxxxxxx

I would offer 1.25 mil per season to Rob Davison or Greg Zanon. Let's say it's Zanon. My cap space would then go from 3 mil to 1.75 mil, and my defensive lines would look like:

Dan Boyle - Christian Ehrhoff

Rob Blake - Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Brad Lukowich - GREG ZANON

Now on to goaltending.

I could either re-sign and designate Brian Boucher as my starter and spend some of my remaining cap on a backup goaltender, or I could re-sign and keep Boucher as a backup and hire a new starting goaltender. Boucher got paid .650 million last season. He would probably ask me for a slight raise this season if he was to resign with the Sharks, so I would sign him for .900 mil per season, a .250 million dollar raise from his contract last season. That .250 million raise would take my remaining cap space down from 1.75 mil to 1.5 mil.

I would then offer .800 million to Jonas Gustavsson (which I believe is the maximum offer for a new player coming into the NHL at his age under the circumstances in this case. If it is not then it is somewhere around 1 million and I would offer that. In any case, I would offer the maximum amount allowed by the NHL, which would be less than the 1.5 mil I have left in cap space by at least a few hundred thousand dollars). Jonas Gustavsson wants a starting job, and, reportedly, he also likes San Jose. Even currently, with no guarantee of a starting job, Gustavsson is considering coming to San Jose in reality, so just imagine if he got to come to a team like San Jose, especially a team that had just added Hossa, Havlat, and Zednik, and he got to start! I would offer him the starting job and he would likely sign in a heartbeat, the combination of San Jose, a great roster, and a guaranteed starting job in the NHL being too much for him to decline. He is the "best goaltender in Europe," as some 'hockey experts' have said. So if he did decline my offer, however remote the possibility of that happening, I would sign the second best goaltender in Europe in his stead, and that goaltender would likely do close to as well as Nabokov, if not better. But if he did not, I would still have good ole solid Boucher. And chances are if you give opportunities to two talented goalies in the NHL, at least one of them will play well enough for you, especially when playing behind such a great team. We have seen it over and over again with regard to Detroit and Chris Osgood - a great team, with a great defense, does not need their goaltender to steal them games in order to win a Stanley Cup. As long as the team gets average goaltending, and the goaltender does not lose them any games by letting a large number of weak goals in, that team can, and likely will, have success.

Signing Jonas Gustavsson for say .8 million dollars per annum would leave me with .7 mil of cap space remaining, just enough for me to have Derek Joslin or some other low-cost AHL defenseman on my roster as a 7th defenseman, if needed.

And, without further adieu, here is what the final roster would look like:

LINE 1 OFFENSE: Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Marian Hossa

LINE 1 DEFENSE: Dan Boyle - Christian Ehrhoff

LINE 2 OFFENSE: Devin Setoguchi - Joe Pavelski - Martin Havlat

LINE 2 DEFENSE: Rob Blake - Marc-Edouard Vlasic

LINE 3 OFFENSE: Ryane Clowe - Jeremy Roenick - Richard Zednik

LINE 3 DEFENSE: Brad Lukowich - Greg Zanon

LINE 4 OFFENSE: Marcel Goc - Torrey Mitchell - Tomas Plihal

LINE 4 DEFENSE: Derek Joslin or other AHL call-up - alternating defensemen from top three lines.

That right there is an excellent team. A team that could win the Cup - multiple Cups, even, and a team with a much more talented roster than the Sharks had last season, and will likely have next season if Doug Wilson does not take this route, or a similar one. And this is a team that could be put together even by trading away many players for free! So even if Doug Wilson gave away many of his tops assets for nothing but the cap space, he could still build this great team. Just imagine if he actually traded his players for good picks and prospects, in addition to the cap space, and then built this team through free agency. He would not only have one of, if not the most, talented rosters in the league (as shown above), but he would also have a much restocked, highly regarded prospect pool. Now that, my dear readers, is the definition of a win - win.

Or, instead of trading away 8 million dollars worth of player contracts for prospects, picks, and the cap space, and then spending 8 million dollars a year on Marian Hossa, Doug Wilson could just trade away 8 million dollars worth of player contracts for Dany Heatley (who is on a 7.5 mil per annum contract), or to send Phil Kessel an offer sheet in the 5 million range instead of spending the 8 million on Hossa. And in Kessel's case, Doug Wilson would ensure he got a star calibre player in the vein of a Marian Hossa, but without having to spend as much money, given that Kessel is a restricted free agent with less options than Hossa, who is unrestricted, and who can therefore test the open market.

In conclusion, that is what I would do. And the beauty of it is that I have used real cap numbers to illustrate it all, and the players I have talked about signing sign with the Sharks in this scenario for the same amount - or more, than they will likely sign for in real life, which means that this scenario is not just some crazy, unrealistic 'wish' of a writer, but rather it is a scenario that Doug Wilson could likely execute the exact the same way, or very similarly, as I have mapped it out here, if he was inclined to do so.

Here's hoping he is inclined to do something like this.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Why Doug Wilson is to blame for the Sharks' failures and lack of offensive flair

And most importantly, this is why Doug Wilson is incapable of building a great hockey team. And if he is incapable of building a great hockey team, then he should no longer be the General Manager of the San Jose Sharks.


The real story here (that all the writers are missing out on) is that Ryan Getzlaf, Correy Perry, and Chris Pronger should all be Sharks!

In the 2003 draft, Doug Wilson picked Milan Michalek with the 6th overall pick when Ryan Getzlaf and Correy Perry were still available! Not to mention Dion Phaneuf was still available, Jeff Carter was still available, Zach Parise, Mike Richards, Braydon Coburn were all still available, and many other, better players than Michalek as well.

But Doug Wilson, being the 'excellent' general manager he is, being the general manager about whom Greg Jamison (who should also be fired) said "his body of work speaks for itself," passed on all of those great, elite, star players to pick a mediocre second line player at best (or for many teams an above average third player player) instead.

But that's not all. Doug Wilson also had the 15th overall pick in that draft. Guess who was still available? Ryan Getzlaf, Correy Perry, Zach Parise, Mike Richards, Shea Webber, Patrice Bergeron, Patrick O'Sullivan. But who does Doug Wilson pick? Steve Bernier.

Then to top it all off, Chris Pronger got offered to Wilson for a few mediocre prospects (none of them future star players), and Doug Wilson said no!

Could you imagine if the Sharks had Pronger, Getzlaf, and Perry, and the Ducks didn't? Who do you think would have won the series if Doug Wilson had gotten those players?

Doug Wilson made three huge mistakes during that time span, and Ducks' then General Manager Brian Burke capitalized on those mistakes. Doug Wilson passed on those players, and Brian Burke snatched them up, and that is the one and only biggest reason that the Ducks have won a Stanley Cup, and the reason the Sharks have not. And it is also the one and only biggest reason that the Ducks creamed the Sharks in their series.

The reason this is the real story is because there are parallels here since the Ducks just faced the Sharks, and Doug Wilson missed the great players and the Ducks got them and beat the Sharks with them. But a larger point is that the 2003 NHL entry draft was one of the deepest of all time, and almost every team in the NHL got a star, franchise player out of the first two rounds of that draft, if not two or more, but the Sharks got none, and right now that's what they're missing, a couple star franchise players who can't only pass and skate like Marleau and Thornton can, but who actually have the whole package, like Yzerman, Foresberg, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Getzlaf, Kane, Toews, Semin, and so on.

What do I mean by the whole package? The Sharks have no one besides Boyle who have the ability to skate, pass, shoot, and stickhandle. The Sharks have a few players who can skate, and an even fewer who can skate and pass, and one or two who can shoot well, but they have no one besides Dan Boyle who has the whole aforementioned package. In fact, besides Boyle, the Sharks do not even have one single player who can stickhandle defenders and goalies alike out of their skates, not to mention players who can do that as well as skate, pass, and shoot well. No Shark player aside from Boyle even made a "top five plays of the week" type show once this season, not to mention a "top 100 goals of the season" type of thing. The Sharks are sorely lacking in skill and in flair, and that's what they lacked against the Ducks. When they needed something exceptional, when they could not get the puck past Hiller, and they needed an amazing individual effort, something that would be playing on yubetube for weeks to come, something for the ages, they did not have it, not even once, not to mention multiple times. And if you want to win a Cup, you need to make those highlight plays. There is not one run to Cup in Stanley Cup history where a player did not make an exceptional skilled play to score a goal that would not have been scored otherwise, and with which his team would not have won otherwise.

Just look at the Tampa Bay Lightning's recent run to the Stanley Cup. They were almost out of it so many times, but every time they were, either Richards, St. Louis, Lecavalier, or even Dan Boyle stood up and pulled an incredibly skilled individual effort out of their hats to score that important goal. The problem with the Sharks is that they do not have one single forward who is skilled enough to score any of those goals that Lecavalier and St. Louis scored en route to the Cup. And until that is addressed--which, believe me, it won't be under the regime of Doug Wilson, the Sharks will never win the Cup. How do I know Doug Wilson will not add those types of players? Because Doug Wilson hates those types of players. He never drafts the skilled Russian forwards who are that mold of player. He passed on Parise, Getzlaf, Perry, and Richards, who are all that type of player. He prefers to acquire the much less skilled players who he thinks hustle more. The problem is, once you draft any group of given players, well, you can teach anyone to hustle in and backcheck hard in a matter of a few weeks time. All it takes is "you better start hustling and backchecking kid, or you won't make the NHL team." But when it comes to great stickhandling and just high skill in general, you cannot just teach that in a matter of weeks. That takes a lifetime of practice to develop. So Doug Wilson would be much better served to draft some highly talented players who do not hustle, and then teach them to hustle, as opposed to drafting players who do not have the skill, but do hustle, and ending up with the team he has now, a team lacking in talent.

And that really is what the Sharks lack most of all, and could have gotten with Perry and Getzlaf. People can talk all they want about a lack of leadership and effort, but when there is no room on the ice, you need forwards who can stickhandle past people and score those huge goals. Forwards with sublime skill. And like I said, the Sharks have none.

Additionally, Doug Wilson also traded away 40+ goal scorer Brad Boyes for someone named Jeff Jilson, a player who has never played a full season in the NHL, or scored more than 5 goals in a season in the NHL, and who only has 9 career NHL goals.

Let me recap what happened before this for you. Doug Wilson traded former Sharks' franchise player away Owen Nolan for 1st round draft choice Brad Boyes (and a few minor components, but Brad Boyes was the main piece in the deal). Then he traded Brad Boyes for someone who was never even good enough to feature regularly in the NHL. So what Doug Wilson really did was trade all-star Owen Nolan away for a minor league player in Jeff Jilson.

When you're a General Manager in the NHL, you don't get very many chances to acquire great players, and you only ever have a handful on your team. So when you squander almost every chance you have to acquire great players, in addition to actually trading away the great players you do have for almost nothing, then you have pretty much ruined your team's chances of ever winning a Stanley Cup in the near future. Doug Wilson has had so many chances to make this Sharks' team great. If he had even made half of the right choices over the last five to ten years in the draft and in regard to trades and which players to target via trade and free agency, the Sharks could have an all-star calibre lineup. But Doug Wilson's body of work does speak for itself. Take a look at the Sharks' offensive production in the playoffs over the past four seasons. Take a look at their even strength goal production since the all-star break this season (it was second worst in the entire NHL, once they stopped getting loads of open net rebound goals that is). Take a look at their offensive production in the '07-08' season (19th overall, behind Minnesota even). And take a look at all the early eliminations these past years. That is Doug Wilson's body of work. Does it speak for itself, like Greg Jamison said? It certainly does. It speaks loud and clear. And what it says to me is that Doug Wilson is not the reason this Sharks team is decent, but rather he is the one single biggest reason that this team is not great. If it was not for his terrible early round drafting philosophy, and the fact that he always thinks his teams are talented enough to win even when they aren't (so then he doesn't bother making them any better until after they've been embarrassed in the playoffs and he realizes they are not good enough), and just the nearly infinite number of other mistakes he's made since becoming General Manager of the San Jose Sharks... if it wasn't for those things, the Sharks would have a much better roster, and they would have won numerous Cups already. He does not have the hockey intelligence, the eye for talent, or the decision making ability to make this Sharks' team good enough to win a Cup. And perhaps just as importantly to the fans, he does not have the ability to make this Sharks team offensively skilled enough so that they are actually an entertaining team to watch all year long.

And because he lacks these qualities, the Sharks would be best suited to find a better GM.