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Cap creating some urgency
Wilson has several holes to fill
8/31/09 - By Mike Lee -

If money is the name of the game, San Jose recouped $4.7 million on Friday by shipping Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich to the Vancouver Canucks in a trade that netted the Sharks two prospects. It’s doubtful that the either of the players San Jose received will see the light of an NHL arena in the near future, if at all, but the move provides much needed cap space. With 17 regular players under contract, Doug Wilson still has some work to do.

And you can forget about Dany Heatley, whose $7.5 million cap hit would require the Sharks to purge another $2 million just to put them in line with the league’s $56.8 million salary limit. That of course also means they’d need to play games six shy of a full roster, which isn’t going to happen.

Wilson alluded to the fact that he’s not done dealing after the Vancouver deal by saying that the deal was done to "create some flexibility in our team payroll for potential future transactions as the season progresses."

One name that has popped up over the weekend is Boston Bruins centerman Phil Kessel, who remains an unsigned restricted free agent. Kessel had a breakout season, but the Sharks would need to pony up something significant to land the number five overall pick from the 2006 NHL entry draft.

Given that the season isn’t going to progress anywhere until Wilson figures out to get Torrey Mitchell and five other players under contract. San Jose has prospect options available to fill the void, but the likes of Tom Cavanagh and Ryan Vesce weren’t world beaters last season.

Wilson has done a nice job in purging lots of dead weight, but the additions have been limited to centerman Scott Nichol and journeyman winger Jed Ortmeyer. That means that Wilson is likely to give prospects more opportunity to play at the NHL level.

Centerman Logan Couture is the one blue chip prospect in the Sharks system that could make the jump and provide the same type of impact that Mitchell made in his rookie season, but the Sharks will most likely commit at least one season in the AHL before trying to bring the 20-year old centerman to the NHL. Couture was promoted to Worcester last spring after concluding a 4-year stint with the Ottawa 67’s.

San Jose is already committing the backup goaltending spot to Tomas Greiss after former backup Brian Boucher signed with Philadelphia during the summer, so at least one Worcester Shark will be with the big club come training camp.

Left wing Jamie McGinn split time between Worcester and San Jose last season and is likely to be a regular with the big club because of his $700k salary. Defensemen Derek Joslin and Mike Moore will also have a shot at earning roster spots. The Sharks did re-sign Rob Blake and Kent Huskins, but with the departure of Alexei Semenov, Ehrhoff and Lukowich, the blueline has at least two spots to fill.

Wilson is burned by the fact that he doesn’t have much bargaining power left in the trade market, unless he were to pull off a coup by dealing either of Jonathan Cheechoo or Milan Michalek’s hefty contracts. You have to give to get, but Wilson doesn’t have much to give, unless he wants to start breaking up his core.

In any case, the clock is ticking. Training camp starts in less than two weeks and he’s yet to fill out his roster.


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