Kukla's Korner Hockey
Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet says the Toronto Maple Leafs are trying to trade for Joe Thornton.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The latest scuttlebutt on who's going where and why as another big season of free agency approaches:
It has the potential to be quite the offseason when it comes to high-profile centers changing teams.
We always say top centers don’t grow on trees and are hard to come by, well, there are at least two on the market in Ryan Kesler and Jason Spezza and it remains to be seen how it plays out on the Joe Thornton front.
First, in Vancouver, where the Canucks went fairly down the road in trade talks involving Kesler before the March 5 trade deadline, in particular with the Anaheim Ducks and Pittsburgh Penguins, before deciding the offers weren’t good enough and pulling him back.
The question is, what’s the deal with him now given the new management in place in Vancouver?
Sources said new Canucks GM Jim Benning has already taken calls from teams on Kesler, if for no other reason than they’re wondering if he’s still available or not....
Spezza, with a year left on his deal, indicated to Senators management that he would welcome a change if a deal that makes sense comes Ottawa’s way. I suspect talks will heat up on that front closer to the draft later this month.
And, in San Jose, the Sharks have indicated they are entering a rebuilding mode. What does that mean for Joe Thornton, who signed a three-year extension earlier this season? Does he want to be around for a rebuild? Either way, Thornton holds all the cards with a no-movement clause. Same goes for Patrick Marleau, for that matter.
more on Kesler and other topic too...
There's no sure answer to say that the Sharks will be just fine if they keep this core together, but it's harder to see this team as a Cup contender in the next year or two if they move out players like Thornton or Marleau. Value always depends on what the return is, but those won't be easy holes to fill if that is the direction in which the Sharks are headed.
Until that decision becomes clear, this team will be one of the most compelling to watch this offseason. Such is the nature of a contending team that is getting impatient with its inability to get over the hump.
-Scott Cullen of TSN in his Off-Season Game Plan for the San Jose Sharks. Read much more on the Sharks from Cullen.
SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson announced today that the team has acquired a conditional fifth-round draft selection in the 2015 NHL Draft from the New York Islanders in exchange for defenseman Dan Boyle. If Boyle re-signs with New York prior to the start of the 2014-15 regular season, the draft pick becomes a fourth-round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Boyle, 37, recorded 36 points (12-24=36) and 32 penalty minutes in 75 games played in 2013-14. The Ottawa, Ontario, native tallied 269 points (68-201=269) and 305 penalty minutes in 431 games played with San Jose. He leaves ranking first amongst franchise defensemen in goals, assists and points.
from Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News,
It was a 12-word mini-manifesto, offered in a staccato bite for maximum impact.
"I want players that want to play here," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told me, "not just live here."
That was pretty much all Wilson chose to say in our phone conversation last week, and really, it was all Wilson had to communicate.
When he said the words, I actually stopped and asked if he meant to say what I think he just said.
So Wilson repeated: "I want players that want to play here, not just live here."
OK then. That's a very different tone than we've heard from Wilson after past Sharks playoff disappointments, and this time he definitely meant it to be different.
from Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea,
When he was acquired from Boston, he made a solid team a Stanley Cup contender overnight. If the 34-year-old retired tomorrow, he’s already done enough in his career to merit consideration for the Hockey Hall of Fame, and it’s primarily for his accomplishments during his eight-plus seasons in teal.
The Cup never came, though. And, now it could be time for Thornton and the Sharks to amicably part company.
To be clear, Thornton is far from only player to blame for the Sharks’ historic collapse to the Kings in the first round, or for any of their previous failures in the postseason. Against Los Angeles last month, the team’s core players all failed in spectacular fashion in the final three games of the series loss, the goaltending was unsteady, and the defense missed its most vital cog in Marc-Edouard Vlasic in the final two games.
But at the conclusion of that collapse, no one in the organization argued that San Jose didn’t have the talent to match up with the Kings, and a 111-point regular season backs that up. Instead, general manager Doug Wilson and head coach Todd McLellan pointed to the coaching staff’s message inexplicably not getting through to the players....
Comcast SportsNet Sharks analyst Bret Hedican said: “It does speak to the leadership group, and is saying to me that the leadership either isn’t on board with what he’s trying to do, or strictly isn’t bought in to understanding what it’s going to take to win. … If the leadership has not bought in with the understanding of what it’s going to take to win, then it probably explains why we’re in the predicament that we’re now in, watching the Sharks get beat by the L.A. Kings for the last couple of years.”
from Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea,
“We will look. We’ll explore everything. But, when you’re turning the team over to a younger core, you’ve got to be careful who you bring in from the outside that ends up superseding them. We’re giving them the opportunity. Here’s your team," Wilson said.
“It doesn’t mean we won’t add people, whether it be trades or potential free agency going forward, but if you asked me right now, I would say probably not.”...
The general manager’s ornery tone has been palpable since the team blew a 3-0 series lead against the Kings more than three weeks ago, and was still evident on the Comcast SportsNet set.
“What we want to do is turn this over to people that are going to come and play. We don’t care what your age is, there is – I’m saying this with all due respect – there’s no equity in anybody that’s been here. With our performance of what we just went through, this is where we’re at.
“You want to come in take the net as a goalie? Take the net. You want to be a young defenseman and grab it? Take it. … This is a great opportunity for people to come in and play the way that the coaches need them to play.”
via David Pollak of Working the Corners,
... there’s been a lot of speculation across the NHL that Ryan Miller might be a good fit in San Jose now that the St. Louis Blues have told him his services were no longer required.
I’ll agree that he might be if the Sharks were in their usual mode, looking for that one last puzzle piece to get them over the hump.
But Wilson has said that is not where the team is this off-season. That this is the year the Sharks may have to take one step back to eventually move two steps forward. And hard to see their interest in Miller (or his interest in them as far as that goes) because of that.
Sure Wilson could scrap his blueprint if the Sharks were 100 percent certain they were getting the right puzzle piece after all these years. But Miller time in St. Louis – both late in the regular season and in the playoffs – only points them in a different direction.
from Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea,
Adding Miller would run counter to Wilson’s stated goal of getting younger, but the general manager would still have Stalock, who will turn 27 over the summer, as well as prospects Harri Sateri and Troy Grosenick, both 24, getting more experience at the AHL level.
Miller could command between $5-to-$6 million per season, a number that likely dropped after his performance in St. Louis. Term could be an issue, too, as the Sharks probably wouldn't want to go more than two or three years on an aging goaltender. Still, depending on what other moves Wilson makes – he’s already cleared more than $11 million in cap space with Dan Boyle's departure and a buyout Marty Havlat looming – looking into Miller’s potential interest in the Bay Area may be worth doing.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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