Ehrhoff & Lukowich Moved For Prospects

Bada bing, bada boom. Per sjsharks.com:

San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced Friday that the team has acquired center Patrick White and defenseman Daniel Rahimi from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich.

Some initial reactions provided in bullet form, because DW really did bite the bullet here.

  • The prospects in question (HF breakdowns of White and Rahimi) are really nothing to write home about. If this deal occurs in the middle of the season, I'm livid- while Ehrhoff isn't sound defensively, his power play production is an asset that should net a much higher return. At face-value, the Sharks got swindled here. Let that be clear. Essentially this is a product of his salary, San Jose's salary structure, and GM's realizing DW was painted into a corner. I'm sure he was getting lowballed left and right. That'll Cheech You and Earl Sleek mentioned as much in earlier pieces for Fear The Fin and Battle of California respectively.
  • Silver lining? Salary cap flexibility. Wilson is now able to either a) fill out the roster with young players on the cheap or b) pursue a trade with much more bargaining power than he had on Thursday. As it stands now, San Jose needs to sign three forwards and two defenseman to compose a 22 man roster. Most estimates have pegged Torrey Mitchell around $.8 M, which means two forwards and two defenseman need to come under contract with $3.53 M remaining under the cap. That boils down to $.88 M per skater, definitely manageable considering those four would be serving a fourth line, bottom pairing, and healthy scratch role.
  • As for losing Ehrhoff and Lukowich, I proposed earlier this offseason that they were the two blueliners who should be moved. Here's a few quotes from previous pieces that explain that rationale:

Looking at the backend, Ehrhoff's ability as a puck moving defenseman has been replaced by Kent Huskins, making Ehrhoff expendable. The blueline currently is in a bit of a logjam in terms of salary- moving Vlasic would be asinine, and Murray (who we will touch upon later) would leave San Jose with a D corps lacking a physical presence.

-"The Journey", July 12th

With the salary cap situation the way it is, one would have to assume a blueliner is on the move- there's no way San Jose can afford to pay Huskins that sort of money to serve as a 7. Brad Lukowich was disappointing after the first twenty games of the season, and freeing up his $1.56 M salary would go a long way towards getting San Jose's offseason back to a manageable level.

- "Kent Huskins Signs", July 2nd

In that regard, I'm content with the personnel that were given up. I don't think you're able to rid yourself of Brad Lukowich without packaging him with Ehrhoff, and that was probably a selling point for Wilson- my guess is that the Canucks were pushing for Ehrhoff, and DW countered by saying, "We'll make this move only if you take Lukowich." That's an aspect of the deal I think he should be commended for.

  • A lot of talk says that this sets the stage for Wilson to take another stab at Heatley. I'm not so sure. Regardless of my wariness in making a move for Heatley, let's look at this objectively. You now have given up an essential piece in a deal with Ottawa- every single rumor that has made it's way around the internet this offseason has named Ehrhoff. It's still a possibility, but now San Jose doesn't have the assets to provide Ottawa with the puck moving offensive defenseman they seem to be looking for. I'm not sure that improves DW's chances, even if San Jose is much more flexible monetarily.
  • If I had to put money down, it probably would have to be on DW making the infamous Kessel Run. There's roughly 18 parsecs until training camp begins, and while Boston is dealing with salary cap issues of their own, most accounts have Wilson pursuing this very hard. It would have to be creative and possibly involve a third team, but I have a feeling this is going to be DW's play. As mentioned before, he's dealing from a position of power, with Boston being the one who is in a bind. Call it a hunch, pure speculation, or a baseless claim, but The Force is strong with this one...

David Pollak of Working The Corners is reporting that Joslin, Demers, Moore, and Petrecki will be battling it out for a spot on the San Jose roster. Here's a quote from a previous piece that looks at the pros and cons of some of these players (after trading Ehrhoff and Lukowich, which was the basis of the exercise):

If I'm DW, I realize I need a defensive defenseman on the blueline. Here's what I had to say about Derek Joslin earlier this season:

"Derek Joslin: Probably the most unmemorable of the four (which was a good thing), Joslin played well enough with the big club for me to be content with him sticking around. That being said, it's just not going to happen. He was sent down yesterday, and it seems as if his time in San Jose will most likely be done for the remainder of this year (barring an injury to one of our seven defensemen).

I liked what Derek brought to the table- he was physical in the corners, made smart and conservative passes on the breakout, was rarely out of position, and could skate decently well- a solid player for our bottom pairings in years to come, with the potential to get top-four minutes on a fairly deep blueline."

Hockey's Future has this to say:

"Talent Analysis

A sound overall game; he plays in all situations and is very composed. Good offensive instincts. A  great one-timer.  Skating stride is a weakness

Future

He’s projected to be a middle pairing defender in the NHL."

Bringing up Joslin to play with Boyle is pretty risky considering both can be defined as guys who prefer the offensive side of the ice, and the fact that pairing is going to see 17+ minutes a night at even strength. From what I saw he's not ready for the workload at this point in his career, and having him serve as a healthy scratch makes no sense from an organizational standpoint. However, let's float the idea around and say he is brought up. If that's the case, I bump Murray up with Boyle, leave Vlasic and Blake together, and hope Joslin works with Huskins.

Another interesting possibility would be Mike Moore. He's known for his physical play, and although he didn't see any game time in San Jose this season, Moore did get called up during the year. If he's the answer here, I'm still moving Murray up to play with Boyle and sheltering Moore on the bottom pairing with Huskins.

Outside of the organization, it's hard to predict. Ehrhoff or Cheechoo would likely be the only players who would be able to bring back a serviceable NHL defenseman. As for the healthy scratch department, I'm not sure you're going to be able to find someone better than Alexei Semenov on the open market at that price tag. Here's what was said about him earlier this offseason, and I'm still not convinced that letting him walk was the right choice. We'll see what happens.

- "The Journey", July 12th

Your guess is as good as mine here, but I'm thinking we only see one of these guys make the team out of camp, with Wilson taking a stab into the free agent market for a veteran blueliner to fill out the roster. I stand by my previous assertion that Semenov is a worthy 6-7 man in that role.

Thoughts from readers can be found in FTF's initial fanshot. James Mirtle of From The Rink, Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy, PJ Swenson of Sharkspage, and Sean Zandberg of Nucks Misconduct have more reactions.

[Plank Update 8/29]: Sharkspage takes a look at Patrick White (H/T to skilletboy for the link)... Yours truly posts a Fanpost over at Nucks Misconduct to help them understand what they received in the deal. Feel free to chime in... CTGray of Couch Tarts and GeneralDisarray of The Chum Bucket share their thoughts...

 

Go Sharks.

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