Petshark: Talking Stick
by petshark on 06/27/12 at 03:30 PM ET
Cap Geek released the details of the new contracts for Andrew Desjardins (1 year, $640k) and Justin Braun (3 years with average cap hit of $1.25m). Information about Tommy Wingels’ contract was released a little earlier, but to make the list complete, he has a 2 year contract with a cap hit of $775k. Also made official yesterday was Brad Stuart’s contract, 3 years at $3.6m.
So, what next? The Sharks are still looking for a winger or two, and they are a little cap heavy on defense. Numbers-wise, there are only 7 NHL defensemen under contract. If they decide they cannot have so much cap space wrapped up on defense, they will have to move one of the blue liners to get that winger they want. “That winger…” Gee, where have I heard that before? Oh well, at least they’re not shopping for defense.
Moving a defenseman out would leave them with Worcester prospects or someone from free agency to fill in the seventh spot. How confident are they that they could go into next season with only Worcester players to fill in as the seventh defenseman? Last season the team used all 8 defensemen, even called up a 9th at one point. So, are the Sharks ready to start with only 6 proven NHL d-men now?
Back on June 18, Doug Wilson mentioned several defensemen in Worcester, suggesting that they are following a similar path to the one Justin Braun followed. He didn’t name them. If they do have another like Braun waiting to be called up, I would be very confident that they are all set. Do they have such a player?
I stared at the Sharks list of prospects and Worcester Sharks defensemen, trying to figure out who among those was likely to join the big club any time soon. Nick Petrecki‘s name has shown up in such discussions, which makes me wonder why he wasn’t the guy the team called up last season when they thought they might need someone. They called up Irwin instead. It was just one game, and one he didn’t play, but he did get called up. At the very least I conclude that the team has as much or more present confidence in Irwin. Irwin is older, and his stats are better, so it shouldn’t be surprising that he would outrank Petrecki. They have both been in Worcester longer than Demers or Braun were. Defensemen do take longer to develop, and neither Petrecki nor Irwin spent four years playing college hockey. I don’t consider their tenure in the AHL to be conclusive, but it made me look.
I have to assume that this is what Wilson meant by his comparison to Braun- none of these players has been fast-tracked into the NHL as Vlasic and Demers were, not yet. Still, though he did spend four seasons playing college hockey, Braun did not play a full season’s worth of AHL games. He was just older than Demers or Vlasic when he became a San Jose fixture.
There are four Sharks defensemen from last season’s Worcester roster who have now spent more than a full season in the AHL. They are Matt Irwin (24 y.o., 2 AHL seasons), Nick Petrecki (22 y.o., 3 AHL seasons), Matt Pelech (24 y.o., 5 AHL seasons, 5 NHL games) and Mike Moore (27 y.o., 5 AHL seasons, 6 NHL games). Petrecki, Irwin and Pelech received qualifying offers this week, and Moore will be a UFA. There are several other defensemen who just completed their first AHL season: Acolatse, Gogol and Doherty.
Even though those three have only spent one year in the AHL, we can’t rule them out as possibilities. Demers only spent one full season in the AHL, Braun spent less. If any of them are as promising as that, we should see them sooner than later.
So why did Wilson feel compelled to sign both White and Vandermeer last season? Petrecki and Irwin might have been ready to at least fill in for injury last season. The team clearly didn’t think they were, not on a regular basis. Are Irwin or Petrecki ready now? Are Doherty, Acolatse or Gogol? If the team does trade Murray, as so many are convinced they will do, we can only hope that one of these five young players really can follow Justin Braun’s path. If Wilson signs yet another veteran depth defenseman, I have to conclude that he thinks the “four or five” has become “two or three.” Maybe.
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About Petshark: Talking Stick
Native of Northern California. Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.
I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle. I watch, I react, I write it down.
My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked. I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind. When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom. It hasn't, I don't think it will. At all.
Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.
I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.
I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org