The San Jose Sharks are once again on the outside looking in. Despite years of solid regular season performances, tons of hope, lots of trades and stars who are paid quite well, they no longer have a chance of lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup, and the finals haven’t even started. The core of this team has spent half a decade proving they can’t win when it counts. Worse, unless ownership and management decide to resort to methods that’d earn disapproval from the UN committee on human rights, it is unlikely to be something that is fixable by moving those players who have failed longest.
Twenty million of the clubs sixty four million in cap space is tied up in just three players. Joe Thornton, former league MVP and team captain sits at the top of the food chain. With a cap hit over seven million, him moving out could open the door for lots of possibilities. The UFA market this year has quite a few guys with their name on the Cup who could give the team star power, depth and winning experience. With one more year on his contract, the soon to be thirty four year old is more valuable to a team like the Nashville Predators or Saint Louis Blues who need an injection of offensive flair, than the San Jose Sharks who need depth and balance. Unfortunately he has a no movement clause.
Patrick Marleau has the all time lead in pretty much every statistic the San Jose Sharks keep, including games played without winning a Cup and being called gutless on national tv by a former teammate. For another year, he failed to justify it. Fourth in post season scoring, and well under a point per game. He was third in scoring in the regular season and failed to register a point in five of the seven games against the Los Angeles Kings. If there is any man in the western conference in more dire need of relocation than Marleau, I don’t know who he is. With a year left on his contract, Marleau who can play center, or wing successfully, at least in the regular season, might just thrive on a team like The Islanders, Devils, Canadiesn, or Red Wings where he’d be about the six or seventh best known forward. Also soon to be 34, he too has a no movement clause.
It might just be time for rumors to meet reality in the case of Dan Boyle. He’s shown he can contribute under pressure, unfortunately he’s on a team that wilts when spring arrives. He’s he’s played internationally, on good NHL teams and bad, he was part of the last Olympic win. Unfortunately at 37, he’s unlikely to play much more than three or maybe four more seasons if he stays healthy and motivated. Based on what Douglas Murray brought the Sharks this year, he ought to easily fetch a first round pick and two solid prospects.
One, two or perhaps even all three of these players might believe they have unfinished business and want to stick around and win one with the guys they know and have played years with. Unfortunately, that just isn’t true. The Sharks don’t have the depth or the chemistry to win a Stanley Cup. If they want to repay the fan base for ill spent support the best thing the core of the Sharks can do is waive their no movement clauses and allow themselves to be traded for the best package for the team and fans.