No other time – aside from before the trade deadline – does the rumor mill churn with such fervor as in the days leading up to the NHL Entry Draft.
With July 1 a stone’s throw away and the 2008-09 campaign already on the horizon, teams must decide who’s expendable and who’s available to fill holes now and down the road.
One of the names most bandied about – as it seems to be year after year – is Sharks center Patrick Marleau.
While his rumored deal to Columbus makes perfect sense for the Blue Jackets –filling their No. 1 center role, allowing Derick Brassard to slide onto the second line – it would be a mistake for the Sharks to part with their captain, unless they received a deal that (pardon the pun) blows them out of the water.
And Columbus’s sixth overall pick, which is reportedly what would head to the west coast, isn’t a blow-out-of-the-water offer. What might sufficiently entice the Sharks is the pick and Nikolai Zherdev (and, perhaps, Gilbert Brule, as well).
Despite yet another post-season failure, the core of the Sharks will remain in place next season and, with or without Brian Campbell patrolling the blueline, this is a team on the verge of something special.
San Jose has the ideal mix of established and youthful talent and another year of experience for Devin Setoguchi, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Matt Carle, plus the potential emergence of Logan Couture, should have fans salivating.
Ryane Clowe, who missed 67 games with a knee injury, is primed for a breakout after tallying nine points in 15 playoff games.
Evgeni Nabokov, one of the league’s top five tenders, gives San Jose a chance to win night in and night out.
Who knows, maybe newly named coach Todd McLellan will be the man to spur Joe Thornton to step up once the second season rolls around.
Speaking of McLellan, the Sharks current cast deserves a chance to see if it can perform with a new man at the helm. And don’t discount the need to have a liaison between the new bench boss and the players. Marleau is that go-between and removing him while introducing a new coach simply wouldn’t be a wise decision.
One thing is certain; this club doesn’t need to have its already-thin layer of leadership stripped away. The 28-year-old Marleau, the Sharks’ captain since 2005, isn’t a rah-rah guy, but he provides stability to a lineup that needs it now and will be desperate for it in April.
Edward Fraser is the editor of thehockeynews.com. His blog normally appears Thursdays.
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