Both sides of the coin (TWTW)

But luck’s division is perverse
It seems to work more in reverse
If things are better, they’ll be worse
In just a little while!

Ha’penny, one penny, tupenny, thrupenny
Twelve to a shilling, twice that to a florin
To find the same face on both sides of the coin?
Bob is your uncle from pennies to guineas,
The two-sided mint is the rule, not exception,
And would you not quite feel quite the fool of deception
To find the same face on both sides of the coin?

Rupert Holmes after Charles Dickens (The Mystery of Edwin Drood)

Check out this past week’s news stories here.

The events of the past week focused on two main events: the NHL Awards (Tuesday) and the NHL Entry Draft (Friday-Saturday).

In the former, neither finalist who attended (Burns, Marleau) was tapped, and only one Shark was  named to the 2nd team (Pavelski). And the ‘cast was worse — not even worth fast-forwarding through. (A HORRENDOUS result)

In the latter, Sharks shifted gears from past drafts, emphasizing European players with their first few picks, and picking up not one collegiate bound player.  The team came to the draft with 7 picks, and ended with 8 draftees. (Check out the prospects drafted here; video interviews with the players in Philadelphia can be found at news link above) All the 2014 draftees, excluding Vanier who’s recovering from surgery, are expected to participate at the early July Sharks prospect camp; a public scrimmage will be held at SAP Center on July 9 — tickets are $5 (benefiting the Sharks Foundation), parking is free. (A good result)

Contrast that with the concern and outpouring for 43 year old former Canucks great Gino Odjink really set the hockey world a flutter.  He announced he has a rare heart disease that is hardening his heart and he could have only weeks to live. And helps all of us remember what’s important: family and love. (Not a good result)

And word has come that the Sharks have been unable to find a trade partner, so they will be buying out the remaining year of Martin Havlat’s contract. (Ambivalent result depending on your feelings toward the player)

Yet the beat goes on

The upcoming week marks the deadline Monday 6/30 for qualifying offers to the Sharks’ nine RFAs.  (Sharks have already indicated that Sheppard will return.  I think at least two being allowed to walk. Three players have “defected” to Europe; Sharks can choose to retain their rights by making QO.) QOs nominally “expire” July 15.

While other teams (than those who currently hold a player’s rights) have been able to talk to pending RFAs and UFAs since Wednesday 6/25, starting 7/1 those teams can sign the UFAs or make offer sheets to the RFAs.  And players with QOs can start signing deals.  Plus those whose multi-year contracts that expire in June 2015 can start signing extensions.

In the draft recap, DW indicated that the Sharks concentrated on the draft in Philadelphia, but some of the current players on the roster may be finding new homes soon.

You might think summer is boring, but it can be filled with lots of intrigue and speculation.

Follow your favorite news sources for the latest breaking news.

When is a Rebuild not a Rebuild?

7/10 update:  GM Doug Wilson on not lowering expectations during “rebuild”.

Last summer, Sharks GM Doug Wilson categorized the off season changes as a “refresh” or “reset”.

The sum of changes were 10 NHL contracted players traded, 2 NHL contracted players let go, 7 players drafted,  18 NHL contracted players re-signed, plus 6 prospects signed to ELS deals and one to non-ELS deal.

This season he’s calling it a “rebuild.”

But is it really?


verb \(ˌ)rē-ˈbild\

: to build (something) again after it has been damaged or destroyed

: to make important improvements or changes in (something)

One could define the “damage” that has been done to emotions, egos and reputations after the inability of the Sharks to shake off the “playoff choker” label by losing a playoff series after being up 3-0.

But many pundits are questioning the Sharks “rebuild.”  Some questioning if the Sharks are having a nervous breakdown.  Others incredulous that a team that got 111 points in the regular season is “rebuilding.” However, even the betting sites are giving the Sharks a good chance to win the Cup next season (7th favorite).

Perhaps they’re (partially) right?

If you look at the team’s contracts, you’ll see NINE players with No Trade Clauses (NTCs) or No Movement Clauses (NMCs).  (That’s 8 once Havlat is excluded.)  Perhaps this “rebuild” is to weed out some of those players with NTCs by having them agree to a trade?

Well, Marleau and Thornton have been mentioned in trade rumors, but neither player seems willing to waive to move.  (And there are three players, other than Havlat, that have a real chance of being compliance bought out.)

Thus far (6/25), two players/rights have been traded (plus Havlat’s hanging future), three pending RFA players defected to Europe (whose rights might be retained by team if issued QOs), one prospect returned to draft, three NHL contracted players signed to extensions, three undrafted players signed to entry level deals. There are nine (other) pending RFAs, six pending UFAs, and two graduating college players that need a deal (or become UFAs). (And for completeness regarding the Sharks collegiate prospects… 3 players completing junior year, 2 completed sophomore year, 3 completed freshman year; 1 heading to college in the fall.)

The Sharks have seven picks for tomorrow’s draft. But that could increase with some potential trades.

Thus, we’ll have to wait to see what the summer brings and how much change there will be to the roster and team, to better categorize this as a rebuilding team or not.

Potential 2014 Sharks Compliance Buyouts

When the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed in January 2013, teams were given the option of buying out up to two pre-CBA signed contracts without any cap hit. (That is contracts signed before the September 2012 lockout started.) These are called Compliance Buyouts.

(This is in addition to the Regular Buyouts which have an impact on a team’s cap hit.)

The buyout period (Compliance or Regular) begins 48 hours after the Stanley Cup is raised (6/16 9pm PT this year), and ends 6/30 8:59pm PT. Excepting those players with No Movement Clauses who waive their right, teams must put players on unconditional waivers (over 24 hours from 9am PT to the following day at the same time) before the buyout can occur.

There are seven players under contract to the Sharks that are potential Compliance Buyout Candidates.  (But three are not going to happen; no way, no how.)

Under General Manager Doug Wilson, the Sharks have never bought out a player. (And I don’t recall any player ever being bought out by the organization. UPDATE: Friend reminded me that Ray Whitney was bought out in 1997. So have to categorize it as rare of very infrequently.)

Martin Havlat (contract signed 2009)

Martin Havlat was acquired by the Sharks in July 2011 in trade for Dany Heatley.

His time with the Sharks has been filled with numerous injuries and limited offensive impact.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson has already announced that Martin Havlat will not be returning to the Sharks.  So that means either a buyout or trade. But Havlat has a No Movement Clause so could block a trade to any team he does not want to go to.

Marti’s 2014-15 contract pays him $6M with a cap hit of $5M. A buyout would be $4M paid out over two years ($2M per year).

DW may be seeking to trade him, but might have to retain salary.  As long as he retains less than $4M, he’s saving $$ in the long run. (Teams can only retain up to 50% in salary, or $3M, which would also result in a cap hit to the Sharks of $2.5M.)

My gut: 60% chance that the Sharks buy him out (vs being traded).

Antti Niemi (contract signed in 2011)

Antti Niemi was signed to a four year deal in 2011.  Niemi’s 2014-15 contract pays him $4M with a cap hit of $3.8M.  A buyout would be $2,666,666 paid out over two years ($1,333,333 per year).

Niemi has not had the same success playing for the Sharks that he enjoyed with the Blackhawks (where he won the Stanley Cup).  His play has been very sieve-like at times.

Many fans have called for Niemi to be gone. Or at least platooning with Alex Stalock.

The Sharks also have the ability to trade him, which I think they’d rather do (to an Eastern Conference team) than buy him out, for a decent veteran goalie.

My gut: 20% chance that the Sharks buy him out.

Brent Burns (contract signed in 2011)

Brent Burns signed a five year extension in 2011.  Burns’s 2014-15 contract pays him $5.76M with the same cap hit .  A buyout would be $11.52M paid out over six years ($1.92 per year).

Burns has been a “team player” switching from defense to forward (and now going back to defense for 2014-15).  He has been decent defensively and an asset offensively.

And he’d never clear buyout waivers.

My gut: 0% chance that the Sharks buy him out.

Justin Braun (contract signed in 2012)

Justin Braun was signed to a three year deal in 2012.  Braun’s 2014-15 contract pays him $1.5M with a cap hit of $1.25M.  A buyout would be $1M paid out over two years ($500k per year).

But as he is part of the “young core” that DW has been touting, and a good serviceable player at a decent salary, I do not believe the Sharks would consider buying him out (especially as he would not even clear waivers).

My gut: 0% chance that the Sharks buy him out.

Adam Burish (contract signed in 2012)

Adam Burish was signed to a four year deal in 2012.  Burish’s 2014-15 contract pays him $1.85M, which is also the cap hit.  A buyout would be $2,466,668 paid out over four years ($616,667 per year).

Burish had a good 2012-13 season, but after a preseason injury, spent most of 2013-14 on the IR (playing only 17 regular season games).

Sharks did find other players to fill his role while he was sidelined, but I think they’d prefer to trade him than buy him out.

My gut: 40% chance that the Sharks buy him out.

Brad Stuart (contract signed in 2012)

Brad Stuart was signed to a three year deal in 2012.  Stuart’s 2014-15 contract pays him $3.6M, which is also the cap hit.  A buyout would be $2.4M paid out over two years ($1.2M per year).

There has been some speculation that Stuart may be a player that DW was referring to when he said he wants players who want to play in San Jose, not just live in San Jose. It was widely telegraphed before summer of 2012, that Brad Stuart wanted to return to San Jose (or at least California) to be near his family. He was not as defensively effective as Scott Hannan on the ice in 2013-14.

Stuart has a No Trade Clause, and would probably not waive it, so the only option of removing him from the roster may be a buyout.

My gut: 50% chance that the Sharks buy him out.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic (contract signed in 2012)

March-Edouard Vlasic was signed to a five year extension in 2012.  Vlasic’s 2014-15 contract pays him $4.25M, which is also the cap hit.  A buyout would be $11,333,336 paid out over eight years ($1,416,667 per year).

Vlasic is the defensive rock of the Sharks blue line, and often mentioned in DW’s future discussions.  And there’s no chance he’d clear buyout waivers.

My gut: 0% chance that the Sharks buy him out.

Update 6/27:

Sharks announce Havlat to be compliance bought out.  (And no other players will be bought out.)

Draft prep, upcoming awards, HHOF inductees and TWTW

A week later, and things aren’t too much different.

Transactions summary and the week that was

Sharks have re-signed Al Stalock and Mike Brown, pending UFAs.  It’s also been expressed that pending RFA James Sheppard will be back.

For Worcester, there’s an underlying chill with news coming out the the AHL is looking to allow the western NHL teams to relocate their AHL affiliations nearer to them on the west coast, perhaps as soon as next fall (for 2015-16 season), which would mean the upcoming season could be the last for the Worcester Sharks. It was announced that Jimmy Boneau has signed a new AHL deal, head coach Roy Sommer will return for another season, but assistant coach David Cunniff will be heading elsewhere for his future.

(See Transactions for further details.)

Sharks TV Analyst Drew Remenda won’t be returning next season.

Sharks released their seven game preseason schedule, including a (home) game in Stockton and three at SAP Center.

On the horizon:

On Sunday (6/22 1pm PT), the NHL will release the full season schedule. (Already released: the home openers of each team.  Sharks will travel to LA to watch the Kings hoist their second Stanley Cup banner on 10/8. Sharks open their home schedule 10/11 hosting the Winnipeg Jets.)

Monday and Tuesday, the Hockey Hall of Fame committee meets to vote on up to four players to enter the Hall, plus builders, etc.  Owen Nolan and Mike Ricci are two possible former Sharks that might get that honor.

On Tuesday 6/24, the NHL will host their annual awards in Las Vegas.  There are a couple of Sharks among the finalists for awards, but no real stand out “sure fire” winners. (I thought PHWA SJ chapter Masterton nominee Al Stalock had a chance, but he’s not even a finalist.)

Then on Friday, starts the NHL draft, in Philadelphia.  Round one will be held Friday evening; rounds 2-7 on Saturday. Sharks have seven picks (first, two seconds, third, fifth and two sixths).  (But with the “rebuild-on” mode mood-setting from Doug Wilson, there may be a few veteran players departing the team, who don’t want to stick around for the rebuild, that might add to the number of picks the Sharks have.)  Sharks are hosting their first ever draft party at Stanley’s Bar at Sharks Ice in San Jose for the first round.

And on July 9, the Sharks will trot out their prospects in a 7pm scrimmage at SAP Center.  The two coaches will be Mike Ricci and Bryan Marchment. (Tickets go on sale 6/24 via Ticketmaster; proceeds to benefit Sharks Foundation.)

Waning Passion

An inauspicious time to start a blog.

I watched (in the background) the final game of the NHL season last night. Without passion or enthusiasm.

I only wanted the Kings to win so the disappointing 2014 post-season would come to an end.

Now things can start to happen.  That may wax the passion again.

The Sharks GM Doug Wilson has announced there will be significant changes to the roster for the upcoming season.  But what will that entail?  Only two moves for certain have been announced;  Dan Boyle and Martin Havlat will not be with the team next year.

There has been speculation that the captaincy might be changed, with Couture, Pavelski and Vlasic getting to wear the letters as the team’s leaders, passing the torch of leadership to the next generation.

48 hours after the Cup has been awarded, the buyout window opens.  This begins the last period that teams can use their 2013-CBA compliance buyouts.

I’ll expect Martin Havlat to be put on waivers by tomorrow (in preparation for buyout), unless GM Doug Wilson has had some nibbles on the trade front. (UPDATE: As he has a no trade clause, he does not have to be put on waivers before being bought out.)

And Dan Boyle has already been moved (for a conditional 2015 pick from the New York Islanders).

As for other changes?

Pending RFA Sebastian Stalberg has signed to play in his home country of Sweden next season. Pending RFA Harri Sateri has signed to play in KHL next season. (Sharks can still retain their rights until age 27 if they make each a Qualifying Offer by the deadline.) Neither has played for the NHL Sharks, although Sateri has dressed as a back up.

Sharks have apparently been discussing new deals with pending UFAs Alex Stalock and Mike Brown.

There are rumors involving Marleau, Niemi and Thornton leaving the team.  But with a handful of “young, rising stars” who would not be moved, many other players currently under contract may find themselves elsewhere before the puck drops in the fall.