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Icy Hodge-podge
Summer ramblings
8/8/06 - By Steve Flores

Ahh, the dog days of summer. Mid August has got to be the slowest part of the year for an NHL fan. This is truly the slowest and dullest part of the year from a hockey perspective folks. Very little trade action, almost nil on the trade front and nary any action of any real interest is or will occur anytime soon.

The Sharks have already made their major transactions for the summer and unless the right deal comes along for one of the team's two number one net minders the team's roster is more than likely set for the start of camp.

The additions of Mark Bell, Mike Grier and Curtis Brown gives the Sharks more size and grit than they have had for a few seasons. Grier is a great team guy and will add heart and desire to the Sharks third line.

The Brown signing doesn't do much for me as G.M. Doug Wilson seems to see things in Brown that no one else can even fathom. The guy doesn't provide much offensively, isn't a top notch enforcer/contributor and left the Sharks to free agency after a less than average season in 2002-03.

Some GM's seem to have love affairs with certain players. I always remember NFL Head man Dan Reeves consistently signing Quarterback Tommy Maddox wherever and whenever Reeves moved on to coach a new club. Maddox was rarely better than an average player and some feel that calling him 'average' was always giving him too much credit. Wilson seems to have the 'Reeves/Maddox Syndrome' when it comes to Curtis Brown as he has now gone out and acquired him on two separate occasions. Oh well, I will once again yield to Wilson's sense of right and wrong and hope that he knows something positive about Brown that I have never seen on the ice in the past few season's.

The acquisition of Bell is, in short, niiiiiiice!

The newly acquired winger does not have the big name recognition that Martin Havlat has, but believe me I see him fitting in quite nicely on the 1st line.

As our Feeder bloggers have mentioned once or twice former #1 line Left winger Nils Ekman left some things to be desired as part of the top Sharks trio. I will not trudge into the deficiencies of Ekman's game as they have been well discussed. I still feel for Ekman. I believe he was , quite simply, out of place on the top line of a team that is/was vying for a place as a Stanley Cup contender. Ekman is a third line guy with a defensive deficiency here and there.

Bell is a big, strong, skilled, good skating winger that has a tough streak. He will come in with no ego and fill a nice void on the top line that was sorely missing last season.

Add to this the fact that he is truly excited to be joining the Sharks after a few losing seasons in Chicago and you see a man ready to do everything it takes to take the Sharks to the next level.

To those of you who think his numbers were poor with the Blackhawks please try to remember that he wasn't exactly surrounded by the world's best offensive talent in the windy city. His numbers will be much prettier in Northern California.

For those of you just starving for hockey related news you can always catch the latest salary arbitration decision being made every few days concerning a handful of veteran NHLers. There have been some doozey's handed out in the past couple of weeks.

The Buffalo Sabres have seen some record awards being handed out to Daniel Briere and a few teams have seen some players with rather meager statistics awarded some seemingly ridiculous cash awards by arbiters. Just yesterday Sabre winger J.P. Dumont (he of 40 points last season) was awarded a 1 year salary of $2.9 million. Yes, $2.9! Ridiculous I know and I am sure that the owners are concerned at what seems to be a trend as arbiters seem to be awarding a pretty good penny to players with rather mediocre numbers. However, this is the bed that the owners made as the current arbitration process is born of the new collective bargaining agreement.

It may also be the only ace that the players currently have in their deck from that said deal. Seems to me that this boon to the players isn't exactly ideal however as it isn't a victory that rewards the better players but rather the average to mediocre. If these rather substantial awards continue to be granted more and more teams will be opting for their 'walk-away' option which will begin to free up more and more players and allow unconditional free agency to the said parties. It is a change in the game and it will cause more differing reactions from both players and management when it comes to roster management and possible salary outcomes.

In any case the Sharks are less than two months from opening night and the only real roster question is whether Evgeni Nabokov or Vesa Toskala will be traded before the puck drops or whether the trade will have to wait until after the season begins. Either way folks the Sharks need to acquire someone better than a 38 year old defenseman or a draft pick. I realize some Sharks bloggers have suggested this as possible trade fodder but it is not enough to garner in a trade for a true quality keeper. The bar must be set higher and I know that DW will get more in any deal than a soon to be retiring veteran or an unproven 18 year old.

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