[Note] Plank and I will be doing many more of these once we get closer to the trade deadline. We just didn't want to wait on this one.
Huge thanks to Whale4ever of LitterBoxCats.com, the SB Nation Florida Panthers blog. His answers to my questions about Seidenberg went above and beyond what I expected. Seriously, go visit his site.
No, I didn't panic and start looking for trade possibilities after that 4-1 loss to Detroit. Or after the 6-2 loss to the Kings. In reality, I've been looking for a possible trade since the beginning of the season, after a talk I had with Plank about the relative weakness of the defense.
Finding a trade that worked wasn't the easiest proposition. Even with the recalls and demotions of Jamie McGinn and others, the Sharks have only freed up around $40,000 worth of cap space. (Don't go on CapGeek.com, by the way, looks like they got hacked - it takes you right to a spyware site) Because of this, any trade that could possibly be made would have to include pieces from NHL roster. That's in direct contrast to deadline deals in recent years, where picks and prospects were enough to get the job done. The other implication of the cap issues? Players coming back in the deal would have to have relatively low cap hits. Players on the trading block like Pavel Kubina ($5 MM), Scott Niedermayer ($6.75 MM), and Dion Phaneuf ($6.5 MM)? Out of the question, unless you're trading significant assets.
So the question becomes this: Are there any players on low contracts whose play could significantly outweigh the players being traded for them? If the Sharks were in the mix for Kubina, who some (Ek lund) seem to believe they are, Clowe would almost have to be going the other way. Not worth it. Almost any trade for a big contract defenseman would have to include Clowe and others.
That let me on a journey to find the perfect trade target, a long and winding road which tore at the very fabric of my soul. Scouring capgeek.com, nhlnumbers.com and behindthenet.com, I searched for the elusive defender who would not only improve the Sharks, but also keep the team's offensive core intact.
The clouds parted, and a bright light shined. Dennis Seidenberg appeared ($2.25 MM cap hit, one year remaining), and all was right in the world.
Make the jump for a Q&A with Whale4ever of LitterBoxCats.com and an in depth look at Dennis Seidenberg.
|2009 - Dennis Seidenberg||45||1||16||17||2||29||0||0||0||0||80||1.3|
He's not the biggest name in hockey... hell, he probably wouldn't even crack the top 100. But Seidenberg (an Olympian for Germany, by the way) is as solid a defensemen as there is in the NHL.
I'm still not opposed to Doug Wilson's decision to trade Ehrhoff (another German Olympian). It was a necessary move to bring in Heatley, who's addition has paid off in spades for the offense. I am though, and always will be, against the contract handed to Kent Huskins, who's been mediocre at best with the team. He's not a terrible defenseman, but he's not what the team needed. The Sharks needed someone that they could trust to take some minutes away from Rob Blake. Instead, Huskins is sheltered on the bottom pairing, and the mostly ineffective Blake is on the ice for 21:15 per game. That's more than last year when many claimed that he wasn't near the same defenseman that he was earlier in his career. Well, he's a year older and a year slower now.
Seidenberg, on the other hand, is anything but a liability. A smooth skater and a big body, Seidenberg is capable of logging big minutes and playing the point on both the penalty kill and the power play. Although I usually turn up a nose to the +/- stat, his +2 on an 18-20-7 and offensively challenged Panthers team is more than impressive. By all behindthenet.com metrics, he's had a solid year in all ends of the ice. The stat that's most impressive to me, though, is a very untraditional one.
Seidenberg leads the league in blocked shots (129 BkS). Last year, he was top 20 (160 BkS) in only 70 games. In my opinion, it takes a special kind of player to get down and block a shot, consistently. That's the kind of grit and desire to win that you want in a player. The fact that he's doing this on a team like the Panthers? Even more impressive. Nabokov would love this guy.
I recently had a question and answer session with Whale4ever, who's blog LitterBoxCats.com exclusively covers the ups and downs of the Florida Panthers for our parent site, SB Nation. His responses follow.
Do you think the Panthers are likely to trade Seidenberg at the deadline this year?
The Panthers are at a spot unfortunately quite familiar to them at this time every year: within shooting distance of a postseason berth, yet again on the outside - so far. The effect this has on the club that held on to Jay Bouwmeester last March could wind up frenetic: other than Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss, Michael Frolik, Dmitry Kulikov, David Booth, and probably Bryan McCabe, everyone could - and perhaps should - be bait, for the right price.
Is it likely that the Panthers will try to re sign him if he isn't traded?
Seidenberg is a consistent and hard-working asset on a blueline which only recently has displayed unity. He's a large part of that. I'd guess Jordan Leopold would be dropped first, but his contract (both are UFAs next summer) is cheaper. Any way it's looked at, all will depend on the Cats' position on the conference ladder come the trade deadline.
Is it the common perception that Seidenberg used Florida as an in between to set up his next contract?
It hasn't really been discussed too much, but I would certainly agree with that premise. Carolina gave him the cold shoulder and Florida badly needed experienced defenseman, hence their willingness to "overpay" (as Jim Rutherford might have said last August). I believe he's doing all that's been asked of him, in a tough situation on the ice. But again, as far as the Panthers go, they'd probably rather retain Seidenberg over Leopold (who's a year older).
Have there been any rumors surrounding him this year?
To my recollection there hasn't been a single instance where his name has come up. The organization is famously uber-quiet about such matters, but not a peep from the usual gang (Spector's Hockey leads the list of legitimate sites), and none of the typical Sunday around-the-league wrap-ups have ever mentioned him. All the early defensive talk was focused on (currently injured) Ville Koistinen. Still don't know what drove management to fall in love with him...
What do the Panthers need as a return for him?
Florida needs scoring. Period. Behind Horton, Weiss, and Radek Dvorak (you read that correctly), the club is firing blanks from all forward positions. Steven Reinprecht caught fire for a bit, but that's loooong gone. Returning Booth to the lineup (which probably ain't gonna happen) won't alter the lethargy in the lineup. I'll leave it to the pundits to figure out how to pick apart a roster such as San Jose's.
Does Florida usually ask for players, picks, or a mixture of the two in a trade like this?
If we're talking Seidenberg for ________ , I'd estimate the Cats could expect a bottom-third forward (of which they have a team chock full of those) or a mid-round pick. Keep in mind Seidenberg's contract status; he's almost certainly a rental, and any straight-up deal will reflect that. To answer the question, though, Florida historically goes player-for-player, but we're all still getting to know first-year GM Randy Sexton...
What pieces is this team missing to make a playoff run?
What's missing? Scoring, scoring, more scoring, and an identity. Oh, and scoring. Seriously, other than an inability to consistently hit the back of the net, the Cats once again need to develop a common goal, a shared defining element. All too often it's been win-one, lose-two, and no one (publicly) appears all that broken up about it. They've got the "old hands" in Cory Stillman and Dvorak, the up-and-comers in Horton, Weiss, and Frolik, the "money goalie" in Tomas Vokoun, and a lot of spare parts otherwise. A repository for the league's best third- and fourth-liners. As for the "D"? No complaints once Kulikov returns.
Thanks again to Whale4ever.
I gather from these answers that Florida would be willing to trade Seidenberg, and his rental status makes the return required minimal. Here's my proposal:
Because of the Sharks cap issues, the trade couldn't be a one for one deal. The Cats would have to take some contracts back, but neither Huskins' or Staubitz' deals is handicapping. Because of this, though, the forward that Florida desperately needs is one most Sharks fans likely don't want to give up. Even still, the trade brings us in at just about even, so the Sharks would have to be without a healthy scratch for the remainder of the year. However, the Worcester Shuttle has been effective in so far as the player is always with the team on time. Now that Stockton is in the mix, it could be even easier.
The addition of Seidenberg could solve many issues for the Sharks, especially if the trade went down as proposed above. Huskins would be moved, and Blake could shift down to the lower pairing to play with Jason Demers. You could therefore lessen some of Blake's ice time, in turn making him a more well rested and more effective defender. Seidenberg could pair with Vlasic, which would be a solid pairing to alleviate some pressure off of Boyle and Murray. Although we'd be literally dumping Huskins' contract on Florida, he's cheaper for them than Seidenberg, and only has one year remaining.
The trade would also send Staubitz to the east coast. Although I am a fan of Brad Staubitz' desire and drive, I'm not a fan of him playing on the same line with Jody Shelley. Just dreadful, as Plank has mentioned countless times before. This would give McLaren the opportunity to reprise his fourth line role, where he's been more than impressive.
The part that hurts is giving up AHL All Star Benn Ferriero, but he's the main piece in this deal. The Panthers are looking for young scorers, and Ferriero fits the bill. I would guess that he'd be a fixture on the second line after the trade.
This is all pure speculation, but I've never proposed a trade that made more sense for both teams. I know it probably won't happen, but I hope that Doug Wilson at least takes a look at the possibility of bringing the bargain that is Seidenberg aboard. He's the piece that the defense is missing, and his addition would surely catapult the Sharks below average defense into the upper third of the league. I wouldn't be opposed to Doug Wilson going after Seidenberg in the offseason, and having him on the team would make that even easier (ala Kent Huskins).
Doug Wilson will make a move, or else all of the roster changes were for naught. Hopefully, he considers this one.