| Icy Hodge-podge
8/8/06 - By
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
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
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
Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
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