We all love it when our favorite sport is in season, but there is something about rumors and offseason moves that get us die-hards excited. Some fans have even told me that they enjoy the offseason period almost as much as the actual games.
Therefore, starting today and going through July 1 (the first day of NHL free agency) will be a series of articles detailing the various possible offseason additions for the San Jose Sharks.
Popular opinion has San Jose looking to make significant changes to a roster that ought to have gone further than round one of the playoffs but ended up winning just a single game in this postseason.
Do significant changes mean acquiring an elite level star? Maybe, maybe not but let’s take a look at the possible “studs” who could end up calling San Jose home next season.
Rick Nash (LW)- Columbus Blue Jackets (possible trade)
Rumors swirled at the trade deadline about Nash waiving his no-trade clause to possibly move to one of the teams on his “a-ok” list. One of those clubs was the Sharks. However, it appeared that Columbus’ asking price was Logan Couture, a conversation non-starter for Sharks GM Doug Wilson. The other option that made sense would have been Joe Pavelski going to the Blue Jackets as the key cog in a package. That said, Pavelski is one of the most underrated two-way forwards in hockey. It is hard to envision the Sharks being significantly improved without his services. That said, Nash has played with Sharks captain Joe Thornton on numerous occasions including the 2010 Olympics and one has to be intrigued about the possibility of those two together. Nash has never played with a center of Thornton’s caliber, yet the soon to be 28-year-old has still managed to score 30 goals or more in seven of his nine seasons in the league. The thought of Nash being traded to the Sharks is certainly a compelling one but it just doesn’t seem likely. Other teams have more to offer than San Jose in terms of prospects and simply put, Couture and Pavelski are just too valuable to be moved.
Ryan Suter (D)- Nashville Predators (UFA, possibly trade for his rights)
Ryan Suter is by far the best all-around defenseman on the market. The 27-year-old Nashville defender is not only tremendous in his own zone but he is coming off a career best 46-point-season. Given he signs with the highest bidder, Suter will make over $7 million as a unrestricted free agent come July. Therefore, if Suter gets to free agency unsigned, it is highly unlikely that the Sharks will sign him given the fact they already have significant money invested in their blueline. Dan Boyle will make $6.67 million next season and Brent Burns’ contract extension kicks in at $5.76 million. However, if the Sharks were able to trade for Suter’s negotiating rights, and maybe get some help recruiting from Pavelski (a teammate of Suter’s at the Olympics), the Sharks could ink the defenseman at roughly $6 million per season. If that happens, the Sharks would have a gigantic portion of their cap space invested in the defense but man oh man, what a defense it would be: Burns-Suter, Boyle-Vlasic, and Braun-Murray. Or you could go offense heavy with a Boyle-Burns pair and then go with what would arguably be the best shut down duo in the league with Suter-Vlasic. Either way, that would be an awfully stout defense corps.
Zach Parise (LW)- New Jersey Devils (UFA, possibly trade for his rights)
One would think New Jersey isn’t where Parise would want to continue his young career but right now the Devils are one win away from reaching the Stanly Cup final. Wouldn’t the Devils captain want to return to that group? Perhaps, but New Jersey had a very uneven regular season to say the least and Martin Brodeur won’t be around forever. The Devils future is extremely clouded with or without Parise, so even if they win the Cup, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Parise move on elsewhere. Another soon to be 28-year-old, Parise is money in the bank for 30 goals per season. With his contract expiring, Parise is significantly more likely to come to San Jose than Nash. But the Devils star is essentially the forward version of Suter. If he hits open market, it is extremely unlikely the Sharks will be able to compete in the frenzy to sign him. However, if they were to trade for his negotiating rights and like Suter, perhaps some recruitment from Olympic teammate Joe Pavelski, maybe the Sharks could get Parise locked in at $6 million per (which is what he is currently making with the New Jersey). Don’t count on seeing it next season, but a top line of Parise-Thornton-Pavelski would easily be one of the top-five lines in the league.
Shane Doan (RW)- Phoenix Coyotes (UFA)
Doan is a career long Coyote. He is their last remaining link to the old Winnipeg Jets and it just doesn’t seem likely that the Phoenix captain would jump ship. Considering the Coyotes were able to get all the way to the Western Conference final this year, one would think Doan would want to stay and finish his career with the only franchise he has ever known. But on the flip side, getting to the conference finals with Phoenix might make the 35-year-old think a little bit. Will the Coyotes, even with new ownership give him the best chance to win the Cup? Let’s be real for a second here, Ray Whitney may be “The Wizard,” but his magic powers might not continue with Phoenix moving forward and after all, nobody had the Coyotes projected to make the playoffs before the season. Furthermore it isn’t uncommon for older veterans to look to the Sharks for final shots at the Cup. See Blake, Rob and Roenick, Jeremy as recent examples. And if Doan does elect to move on from Phoenix, why not the Sharks? San Jose isn’t that far of a move to make, and it would be a move that certainly gives him a legitimate shot at a ring. As for the Sharks, Doan would be a lock for 50 points (and great all around play) while providing protection for the smaller top six guys like Couture, Havlat and Pavelski.
Jarome Iginla (RW)- Calgary Flames (trade)
Like Doan, Iginla has played his entire career with the same organization. And when veteran players can claim the same city home for over a decade it is hard to envision them moving on. But unlike the Coyotes, the Flames are nowhere near winning a Stanley Cup. And their soon to be 35-year-old captain has just one year remaining on a contract that will pay him $7 million this upcoming season. The time may be now for Iginla to move on but it’s not an easy decision to make. It’s only too easy for players to ponder that their team may be just a few moves away from taking another deep playoff run. But even those with the most faith in the Flames organization have to realize the reality of the situation. The Flames aren’t in a position to win the Cup anytime soon. Therefore, Iginla moving on elsewhere is certainly conceivable. The face of the Flames possesses a no-trade clause so he doesn’t have to move if he chooses not to but a move to the Sharks would be hard to pass up. A chance to play with Joe Thornton and possibly walk off into the sunset with a Stanley Cup ring? Sounds pretty tempting if you ask me. If the trade were to happen, the Sharks wouldn’t be getting no washed up star. While the Flames have missed the postseason in each of the past three seasons, Iginla has remained elite, posting his fifth highest point total (86) of his 15-year career just two seasons ago (2010-11 campaign). Furthermore this past season was Iginla’s 11th straight posting at least 30 goals and 67 points. It wouldn’t be out of the question for a fifth career 40-goal season playing with Thornton and the Sharks.
The likelihood of one of these stars playing in San Jose next season is slim, probably a one in five chance. If you had to rank them in terms of likelihood, it would probably look like the following:
Most likely to be a Shark—Iginla, Suter, Doan, Parise, Nash–least likely to be a Shark.