My previous blog on the subject of the Sharks and the offseason that lays ahead was entitled "The Master Plan". For those of you interested you may want to check that out first to understand where I'm coming from here.
Anyways, the rumor on the street now is that Patrick Marleau isn't going to return as a San Jose Shark.
While the reasons for him leaving are not known, I believe I have a good idea for why this is. Marleau has never really been embraced by the San Jose fan base which is pretty hard to believe given all he has done for the franchise. The first half of his career, he was overshadowed by the likes of Owen Nolan in his prime. The second half, he has been overshadowed by Joe Thornton and even Evgeni Nabokov. Patty has been the best skater in Sharks history, and seeing him leave will be very tough, especially if he follows Dean Lombardi down to LA.
If this is true, and Patty chooses to leave the Sharks, my plan for their offseason shakes up a bit. Instead of letting Nabby go, the Sharks should bring him back on a two year contract. They will have the money to do so and if they follow through with the rest of my cuts, they should have over $20,000,000 to spend.
With this money however, is where things really shake up. Instead of signing Dan Ellis for 2 mil a year, spend that money on another forward. Also, instead of pursuing extra defensive help, just go after Paul Martin and a guy like Anton Volchenkov or Dennis Seidenberg or Dan Hamhuis. Forget about the Kaberle trade, unless the team feels it doesn't have enough fire power for the Power Play to continue being lethal.
Assuming Marleau leaves, the focus needs to shift a bit towards getting another big name forward. Not a guy like Kovalchuk however as his needs are just too huge. At the moment, I'm not sure who the Sharks need to get but Marleau walking certainly makes things tough on the rest of my plan. Could a Patrick Sharp trade still be in the works? I mentioned him as a possibility in my "Master Plan" article.
The pivot point of my offseason plan for the Sharks still remains with Joe Thornton. And with Patty leaving, trading Joe really isn't an option anymore. The Sharks can't afford to lose two of their top three forwards in one offseason and still expect to be a contender. With this, the Sharks are going to have a tough time getting a guy like Thomas Kaberle or Patrick Sharp as they won't have the prospects or picks to work with in order to get one or both of these guys. In fact, they also may not have the cap room.
While the Marleau rumors, are simply that, rumors, it would make perfect sense for him to walk and I could understand why he would want to. This only makes things even more interesting for this upcoming offseason. This may be the bumpiest 5 months in Sharks history.
Til next time.