Doug Wilson Looking At Eight Potential Changes (But Don't Hold Him To It)

Doug Wilson took a page out of Brian Burke's media playbook last night and alluded that vast changes will be coming to the San Jose roster this offseason:

But then came another question: How many new players does Wilson expect on the roster next year? And a qualified, but direct answer followed. It’s in Mark’s Sunday column, of course, but here’s a sneak preview:

"Don’t hold me to this," Wilson said, "but we’re looking at potentially six, seven, eight changes on the roster. As I say, don’t hold me to that or to a time frame. But that would be realistic."

- King David of Working The Corners

Whether or not these proposed moves have a drastic effect on next year's roster is up to interpretation- a role player like Mike Grier leaving isn't likely to alter the team's look all that much. For example, here's a list of five players that could be considered "changes."

Kent Huskins- I couldn't pick his face out of a police lineup, and I doubt many in the Sharks front office could either.

Mike Grier- General consensus in TCY's UFA of the Day piece from a month ago.

Claude Lemieux- Rinse and repeat.

Jonathan Cheechoo- I thought he was going at the draft, but it looks like DW held out for a better return. Regardless, there's plenty of reasons to move him:

The reasons for doing this are purely economical- with the salary cap situation in San Jose, payroll needs to be shed. A three million dollar per year contract on the third line makes any hope for improvements this offseason and next a lot harder to come by.

A former Rocket Richard winner can get a decent haul even with declining numbers, and his contract is definitely affordable. Getting a serviceable roster player in San Jose would be a bonus, but with Jamie McGinn the likely solution to take Cheechoo's role on the team, it's unlikely that happens. Wilson will attempt to replenish the coffers after making multiple "buy" deals over the last three seasons- a second or third round pick (with a possible mid-level prospect thrown in) will be the return.

Obviously San Jose won't be getting a draft pick in return this season, but I think moving Cheechoo for salary relief and bringing up McGinn to fill his roll isn't a bad plan of action. Mark Purdy asserts, "Sharks fans don't care about 2012 and 2013. They have been waiting for what will happen in the rest of 2009 (link)" and while I understand what he is ultimately saying (fans are looking for change now), 2012 is only three seasons away. Taking a slight dip in talent by moving Cheechoo for a non-roster player and allowing McGinn to grow into his role on the team has a lot of upside both for this offseason and the future, even if he goes out and has an excellent season somewhere else. A third line role is what we would see Cheechoo in the next two years, and I'm just not sure that is worth three million dollars spent elsewhere.

Marcel Goc- If Wilson is looking to get nastier this offseason in preparation for the playoffs, Marcel Goc could be out of the picture. His faceoff prowess is exceptional, but the lack of physicality be brings to the table may not be what the organization is looking for down the road. However, letting him go would likely result in a third round draft pick due to his RFA status. Not an exceptional return (to say the least) for a former first rounder, but if he's looking for much more than the one million dollars proposed earlier, you have to think DW will consider cutting his losses.

*******

On to the draft. A lot of picks were moved in the NHL, but besides the blockbuster trade between Anaheim and Philadelphia for Chris Pronger (as well as Jay Bouwmeester's negotiation rights being sent to Calgary), no one else across the league did anything significant- San Jose obviously included.

What we're seeing here is akin to the deadline. GM's attempting to gauge how far next year's salary cap will fall, owners likely pushing for decreased payroll, and an economic climate where teams may be holding off on dealing their "money makers" at the gate due to a fear of losing ticket sales. This situation isn't ideal for making big changes, which is why I'm a little surprised Wilson came out and boldly stated he would be making potentially eight moves. Slightly out of character for a GM who usually likes to play things close to the vest.

Regardless, here are the players who were let go last offseason:

1) Curtis Brown is not re-signed.

2) Patrick Rismiller is not re-signed.

3) Craig Rivet is traded to Buffalo.

4) Sandis Ozolinsh is not re-signed.

5) Brian Campbell is not re-signed.

6) Kyle McLaren is sent to the AHL.

7) Matt Carle is traded to Tampa Bay.

And the players who were brought in:

1) Travis Moen in a trade with Anaheim.

2) Dan Boyle in a trade with Tampa Bay.

3) Brad Lukowich in a trade with Tampa Bay.

4) Rob Blake in free agency.

5) Claude Lemieux in free agency.

When you compare what was "given up" with what the Sharks got in return, it's hard to imagine Wilson being able to make a much more positive change this offseason without trading promising young players (i.e. the Dan Boyle deal). On the other end of the spectrum, I'd be surprised if the fanbase would accept minor tweaks to the roster. The wagons are already circling a mere 24 hours after the draft.

Wednesday is when things hopefully begin to fall into place.

 

Go Sharks.

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