Breaking Down the San Jose Sharks' Offseason-Part Two
I thought I would start this blog off with the first picture of newly acquired Sharks' defenseman Brent Burns in San Jose gear, via Brodie Brazil:
While the Sharks didn't go after any of this year's big-name free agents, it is probably for the best, as many of those players were grossly overpaid and will almost certainly be disappointments to their respective clubs. The Sharks did sign a few free agents, however, and although they aren't stars by any stretch of the imagination, they will be important to San Jose's 2011-12 season.
Michal Handzus – 2 years, $5 million: Handzus is coming off of a season which saw him dress for all 82 games for the Los Angeles Kings and score 30 points in the process. He arrives in San Jose as a 34-year-old veteran to play as the Shark's third line center next season. While his speed is less than blazing, Handzus provides a 6-foot-4, 220 pound frame and will almost certainly be expected to throw some of that weight around.
Last season, the Sharks saw their third line center, Joe Pavelski, score 66 points. With Pavelski most likely playing on the top line this season, if Handzus can only manage the same 30 points from last year, there will be a noticeable decrease in production. But if he is somehow able to get back to his form from 2 seasons ago, where he had two consecutive 42 point seasons, then the missing points will likely be made up by back-end addition Brent Burns. Handzus will also bring a veteran presence to the Shark's bottom six that for for the most part will be extremely young and unseasoned. He will also be used on the penalty kill, where he makes a living.
Jim Vandermeer – 1 year , $1 million: Coming from Edmonton where he played 62 games in the 2010-11 season, 31-year-old Vandermeer will provide grit to the Sharks' defensive corps. Scoring only 2 goals and 14 points last season, he was definitely not brought in to stimulate the offense. He will be here to stand up for teammates, throw hits, and drop the gloves occasionally when needed. It remains to be seen just how much Vandermeer actually dresses for San Jose this season, as the Sharks now have quite a log jam for the last defensive pair. Vandermeer could become very familiar with the inside of the press box as the Sharks may elect to play some of their younger defensemen instead of the newly acquired one.
Colin White – 1 year, $1 million: Immediately after being bought out of his $3 million dollar contract by the Devils, the Sharks decided to sign the veteran defensive-defenseman to a 1 year deal. White had, until this point, played his entire career in New Jersey. White has lost a step or two since his prime and while he would not be suited to playing top 4 minutes every night, he could still be serviceable as a large shutdown defenseman playing alongside Jason Demers with limited ice time. He is a penalty kill specialist of sorts and will definitely get a chance to prove his worth on the man disadvantage. White has also played in 111 playoff games and won a Stanley Cup with New Jersey, adding valuable experience.
White scored even less points than Vandermeer last season, registering only 6 points in 69 games. The amazing part? White did not put one puck in the back of the net last season, scoring a grand total of 0 goals. He and Vandermeer may be in the same boat next season, with both, as well as youngster Justin Braun, battling for that sixth spot to play along with Demers. They all need to come to training camp and the preseason with their best game if they want to earn that final spot. Some final food for thought on Colin White: it may be a case for concern that New Jersey would rather pay White $2 million to not play for them rather than $3 million to play for them.
Ben Eager – Edmonton Oilers
Scott Nichol – St. Louis Blues
Jamal Mayers – Chicago Blackhawks
Niclas Wallin - Lulea of the SEL
Kent Huskins – St. Louis Blues
Coming Up: Now that we know all of San Jose's new additions and departures, in my next post I will break down the Sharks' projected 2011-12 lines.
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