Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Team to Beat

If Roloson doesn't stone Cheechoo in OT in Game three then its my guess that the Sharks would have represented the West in the Stanley Cup and maybe they would be defending Cup champs right now.

Two seasons ago they made the conference final and fell just short.

After shedding a bunch of veterans in the lockout year the Sharks started slowly last season until Doug Wilson picked up some guy named Thornton.

Now, I'm not sold on Joe Thornton as a big game player and trading Tom Preissing may hurt short term but damn, this team is good.

And I know I myself said that making predictions now is a fool's game but barring catastrophe this has to be the preseason Cup favourite.

Deep up front already, they added Mark Bell who will probably score thirty five now that he plays for a real team. And Mike Grier and Curtis Brown will kill penalties and add to that depth at forward.

The games aren't won on paper but this team is deep at every position. They are a little young on D but can add a veteran if necessary because they aren't even at 37M for the cap - if they dump Nabakov's 5M then they have all the room in the world. They also happen to be the youngest team in the league, meaning they are a few years away from having to pay a lot of these guys anything. It won't be until two seasons from now when Thornton and Marleau will both be UFA that the crunch may come for this team.

But with depth at every position including goal and having proven in the second half of last season that the kids are alright they only have that last step to take.

The Oilers kicked the shit out of them last season.

Maybe they don't have what it takes.

But if I were a betting man I'd say that in the next two years, barring disaster, Patty Marleau will be hoisting the Cup.


Anonymous said...

Another team with the "no-name" D approach (apologies to Hannan). I think that "a little young" is an understatement. These guys are no better on paper than the Oilers D that everyone is fretting over. Gonna be a test to see how the PK is. The forwards are very deep. Someone's going to have to be quite desperate to take Nabokov's salary. Not playing him in the playoffs really lowered his value. They may be stuck with him.

These guys are starting this year with much better forwards than they started last year, but at the expense of the D.

Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Only difference is that with this D (with Preissing too of course) this team rolled through the second half of last season and were a glove save away from being up 3-0 over the Oilers.

They may not be ready but if not, Doug Wilson has the space and prospects to make a deal.

Vic Ferrari said...

I'm not as hot on them as you, but as long as Thornton stays fit and on form they will be hard to beat. That Mark Bell acquisition was terrific as well. They lost a very good player in Preissing, mind.

As an aside: WTF is Dale Tallon doing? Jesus, he has arguably the best defense corps in the league, and at a time that they have high value. I thought he would use some of those assets and build around Bell and Calder and hope that at least one of Ruutu or Daze would have their back improve, i.e. complement these guys by trading his D assets for quality forwards. Instead he's made his team both worse and more expensive. I mean Khabibulin will surely be better next go-round ... but damn, that's still an ugly squad. Must suck to be a Hawks fan, if there are even any left.

Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Preissing is a dandy but Bell is just starting to blossom. Good trade I think. The additions of Grier and Brown will also help.

I think the Wilsons will see where their kid D are and then go from there. They have all the cap room in the world to add a defenceman or two even if they cannot dump Nabokov.

Interesting to note that the Sharks did not jump into the UFA frenzy for any of the D available. I like Doug Wilson a lot - he's a smart smart guy I think. Why overpay?

As for the Hawks, Vic, I can speak to that as someone who lived and died with them until about 1996 or so when I walked away in disgust. Actually attended a playoff game in the old Stadium, the game where Amonte scored 4 goals.

Name five Blackhawk GMs?

Bob Pulford.

You hit in on the nose - you can't help the bad luck they have with Daze and Ruutu but trading two good homegrown players, especially when Bell is finally hitting his stride, and then giving Havlat that monstrousity of a contract.

Its too bad - Wirtz and Pulford have killed a once proud franchise.

lowetide said...

When the Oakland Seals win the Stanley Cup there will be a parade at my house.


Vic Ferrari said...

Black Dog, did you read that interview with Vorobiev from the Russian Sports Express? The guy at sidearm delivery, that's translated the interview over there, about three weeks ago I think. The kid makes no bones about who is to blame in his opinion, damn those Russians are interesting interviews, I remember when I was a kid we thought they were all like robots :)

Anyhow, Pulford's name wasn't used, but criminy, it's bloody obvious. Also, according to him Wirtz's son wants to take over the team, but old Bill isn't ready to let go. Hopefully that happens sometime soon. Until old man Wirtz is out of that picture it's just impossible to imagine the Hawks doing anything right. Hell, they still don't allow home games to be broadcast in the Chicago area. Yeesh!

Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Hah - that's an interesting read.

The thing about Russians too, in Chicago in particular, is that Mike Smith drafted a whack of them when he was GM, including Vorobiev. So its politics too.

Pulford to me is all that is bad about the NHL - you name it and he has a connection to it, however marginal.

Relationship to Alan Eagleson - check
Politics determines a team's moves - check.
Failure to pay players a good earned wage - check
Beyond poor drafting, scouting and player development - check
Member of HHOF - why? - check
Destroyed once proud franchise - check