Brazil: The Sharks' dilemma on defense

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Brazil: The Sharks' dilemma on defense

Sept. 12, 2011

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Just how good a job did Sharks GM Doug Wilson do bolstering up his defensive corps this summer? San Jose now has more eligible defensemen than the team can or likely will dress on an every-night basis. Here's how the depth shakes out on the roster:

PLAYER HEIGHTWEIGHT AGE SHOOTS 22 Dan Boyle 5'11", 190lbs 35 Right 61 Justin Braun 6'2", 205lbs 24 right 88 Brent Burns 6'5", 219lbs 26 Right 60 Jason Demers 6'1", 195lbs 23 Right 3 Douglas Murray 6'3", 240lbs 31 Left 2 Jim Vandermeer 6'1", 210lbs 31 Left 44 Marc-Edourard Vlasic 6'1", 200lbs 24 Left 5 Colin White 6'4", 215lbs 33 LeftAnd here's how many predict the pairings will look:Boyle Murray - The perfect example of 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'. These two have been virtually inseparable partners for the last couple seasons as San Jose's top pair, in terms of ice time and matchups. The offensively enabled Boyle, matched with the defensive minded Murray also offer the variety of one left, and one right handed shot. Camp will sort itself out, but change is not expected with these two.Vlasic Burns - If BoyleMurray are 1, then this pair is likely to be 1A. The newly acquired Burns is everybody's early pick to be paired with Vlasic, for a multitude of reasons.
First: Burns is of similar offensive tendency to Boyle, in jumping into plays and joining the rush. Whereas Vlasic is more likely to stay-at-home, playing a responsible defensive game. This is a nice mix of yin and yang for the new teammates.
Second: You have natural right-and-left defensemen, as the two each shoot from different sides.
Third: Each of these players is tied to multiple year contracts with the Sharks... meaning they have the potential to become long-term partners, which may be a good reason to test their chemistry together, as soon as possible.But here's where it gets dicey... since San Jose isn't likely to dress 7 defensemen on a regular basis, we are left with 4 more quality NHL players... and only 2 positions to be filled in the starting lineup each night.Jason Demers is likely to be a top candidate on the 3rd pair. He had a solid last season, and was truly (and noticeably) missed in the entire Vancouver series after suffering a high ankle sprain against Detroit. Last year, Demers averaged 19:29 per game (9th highest of all skaters), including an average of 2:11 on the Power Play. Colin White would be a good partner for Demers, for all the same reasons we like the previously mentioned pairs... OffensiveDefensive, RightyLefty. He poses intimidating size and strength, which the Sharks have recently needed more of on the blue line. He is also a highly touted and respected veteran who could provide solid mentorship to the up and coming Demers.But it's hard to exclude Jim Vandermeer, a reliable and gritty veteran who in 62 games last year tallied 122 hits and 78 blocked shots with Edmonton. Not to forget super sophomore Justin Braun either, who played in 28 games last year, is a prized right-handed shot, and showed tremendous upside in terms of his NHL potential. Coming into last season, either of these players would have been considered shoe-ins to San Jose's roster, with their current credentials. A good indication of just how thick the competition is this time around.This is the dilemma, but a great one to have for Wilson, and Head Coach Todd McLellan. Too many options will likely prove to be a considerable benefit, when you consider injuries, slumps, and the ruts a team is bound to endure over the course of an 82 game regular season.Follow Brodie in real time on Twitter: @BrodieBrazilCSN

Mailbag: Which Sharks player is most likely to be traded?

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AP

Mailbag: Which Sharks player is most likely to be traded?

No one asked, but I’m going to begin this week’s mailbag with my prediction for the Stanley Cup Final – Preds in six. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to a few of your questions…

Most likely to be moved this off-season? (Nik @niknisj25)

If the Sharks do make a move – and I’ve argued here that I think it may be time for a shakeup – they’ll surely be looking for someone up front to boost the offense. In that case, they’d likely have to sacrifice a defenseman or two.

The Sharks defense is the strength of the organization at the moment, as they had one of the best one-through-seven groups in the NHL this season. But it’s also an expensive one. The Sharks have nearly $27 million committed to their top seven defensemen next season, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic is due for a hefty raise beginning in 2018-19.

One name that could be intriguing to other teams is Justin Braun. The 30-year-old has been a part of the Sharks’ top shut down pair with Vlasic for several seasons now, and is signed for the next three years at a reasonable $3.8 million cap hit. The Sharks could potentially move him for offensive help, and slot in a guy like David Schlemko alongside Vlasic, while finally giving Dylan DeMelo a chance to play on a nightly basis on the third pair. A Vlasic-Schlemko pair could be more offensive than Vlasic-Braun, too, because as adept as they were at keeping the puck out of their own net, the Sharks didn’t get many goals from their defenders outside of Burns.

Of course, the upcoming expansion draft all but assures that nothing will happen until Las Vegas selects its team on June 21. If the Sharks lose a defenseman to the Golden Knights, they’ll be more reluctant to move another one. Still, with guys like Joakim Ryan, Tim Heed, Julius Bergman, Mirco Mueller and now Radim Simek in the pipeline, the club might be able to handle a couple departures.

How do we fix the power play next season? Bring in a coach that could help us? Change up the lines, or style of play? (adam smith @kickback408)

One thing that won’t be happening is a new coach, as Doug Wilson recently confirmed that Steve Spott would be back alongside Pete DeBoer. Bob Boughner could move on if he gets hired as a head coach elsewhere, but Boughner’s focus is the team’s defense and penalty kill.

Obviously, the future of the power play depends on who is on the roster, beginning with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Both saw their power play production dip this season.

Thornton went from 29 power play points in 2015-16 to 19 this season (he had eight power play goals in 2015-16, and just one this season). Marleau saw a decline from 25 power play points in 2015-16 to 16 last season. Even if both return, it may be time to try other bodies on the top unit.

Do you see Meier, Labanc and/or Sorensen having a breakout season next year? Or anyone else on the Barracuda? (Colin Dunn @ColinDunnACA)

Someone better had, because this team needs to start getting younger, and soon. One of the bigger disappointments of the 2016-17 season is that none of them apparently showed the coaching staff that they were prepared to play on a nightly basis at the NHL level.

Timo Meier and Marcus Sorensen, I would surmise, are at the top of the depth chart as far as forwards go. Their line in the playoffs with center Chris Tierney was the Sharks’ best through the early part of the series with Edmonton. As for Kevin Labanc, I think he’s fallen a bit since he had a brief run of success for the Sharks in December.

While the Sharks did a good job stockpiling some young players through the 2013-15 drafts, they’ve traded away a number of picks in recent years. In last year’s draft they didn’t have a first or third round pick; this year they don’t have any picks in the second, third or fourth rounds; and in 2018 they are already without their second and third round picks. 

It’s great to accumulate young players, but at some point they have to break through. Now is the time.

Sharks, Robinson parting ways after five seasons

Sharks, Robinson parting ways after five seasons

After five seasons with the Sharks, Larry Robinson is leaving the organization.

Robinson, 65, spent the last three seasons as the club's director of player development. He served as an associate coach from 2012-14.

TSN in Montreal and the Montreal Gazette originally reported the news.

The Sharks confirmed that Robinson's contract would be expiring, and general manager Doug Wilson told NBC Sports California that the divorce was amicable, and "because of geography." Robinson lives in Florida.

According to the Montreal Gazette

Robinson’s contract with the Sharks expires on July 1, but agent Donnie Cape said Thursday that San Jose general manager Doug Wilson has given him permission to speak with other teams. Robinson lives in Bradenton, Fla., and the long travel distance to San Jose is one of big the reasons he’s looking for a new team to work for.

Robinson seemed to ponder retirement in 2014, but signed a three-year extension to remain in the Sharks' front office. He worked mostly from his home in Florida the past two seasons, making occasional trips to San Jose, including during training camp.

In the summer of 2015, Robinson underwent surgery for skin cancer.

Recognized as one of the best defensemen in NHL history, Robinson won six Stanley Cup championships with the Montreal Canadiens as a player, and holds the NHL record for playing 20 straight seasons in the playoffs. A 10-time All-Star and two-time Norris Trophy winner, Robinson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995.

Robinson was the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings from 1995-99, and the New Jersey Devils from 1999-2002 and again in 2005-06. He led the Devils to the Stanley Cup in 2000. Robinson has nine Stanley Cup rings as a player and coach.

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The Sharks did not renew the contract of pro scout Jason Rowe, who had been with the organization for the past nine seasons. Rowe focused on eastern NHL and AHL teams.