Sharks still lack secondary scoring

Sharks still lack secondary scoring
July 17, 2012, 2:48 pm
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Considering the NHL owners first CBA proposal and the marked lack of activity in the trade market this offeseason, its not a stretch to suggest that the Sharks roster, as it stands now, might be fairly close to how it looks at the beginning of the regular season.

Whenever that is, of course.

It also means that San Jose hasnt done much to fix what was one of its gaping holes last season, and that is the lack of secondary scoring, and production from the third and fourth lines.

While the Sharks still boast an impressive and productive top-six in Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Ryane Clowe and Marty Havlat, the offensive output of the rest of the forward group under contract drops off dramatically after that.

In fact, when you combine the scoring of what would probably be the bottom six forwards at this point (Andrew Desjardins, Michal Handzus, Adam Burish, Tommy Wingels, James Sheppard and John McCarthy or Tim Kennedy), you get a total of 21 goals scored last season in 278 games.

Thats one goal every 13.2 games, and doesnt even include Sheppard, who hasnt skated in an NHL game since the 2009-10 season.

To be fair, Desjardins and Wingels are perceived as improving young players in the organization and will be counted on to increase their numbers from last season. Wingels played just 33 games, but showed flashes of becoming a consistent scorer and contributor when he was in the lineup for the final two months of the season and the playoffs. Its not a stretch to think he could get between 15-20 goals next season should he remain healthy something he had trouble with when in the lineup.

On the other hand, Handzus, 35, who had seven goals and 17 assists in 67 games last season, will be a year older and a year slower after a disappointing season for the veteran center in his first year as a Shark. The pace of the NHL game may have passed him by.

It also seems more and more unlikely that the Sharks will land one of the big three remaining names in the free agenttrade market. Rick Nashs 7.8 million salary cap hit for the next six years looks even worse when you consider that the owners want to dramatically roll back the cap. The ownership situation in Phoenix could finally be clearing up, and if it does, its likely Shane Doan will return to the place hes called home for so many years. And Alex Semin, the best free agent still available, probably wouldnt be a good fit with the Sharks, who are looking to re-energize and add some personality to their locker room with players like Burish.

San Jose will still likely add at least one more forward, but the unrestricted free agent market after Semin is bone dry. The Sharks chose to watch from the sidelines while depth, scoring forwards that could have immediately helped them were plucked one-by-one by other clubs. No one expected the Sharks would land a Zach Parise-type, but there were several players that were free to sign anywhere that could have aided the Sharks top-heavy offense.

Whether or not San Jose came close to signing another scorer is uncertain, but at it stands right now, theyve only added Burish and lost Torrey Mitchell to Minnesota. Daniel Winnik, Brad Winchester and Dominic Moore remain free agents.

In short, there is still plenty of work to be done. And the summer isnt getting any longer.