Owen Nolan on the outskirts as training camp approaches

It is early September, and the 38-year-old former captain of the Sharks has no idea where -- or even if -- he'll be playing when the NHL season opens next month. That hasn't happened since he began his career as the first player taken overall in the 1990 draft.

And it wasn't the plan this year, either.

When Nolan became a free agent in July after finishing his second season with the Minnesota Wild, he said his goal was to return to San Jose and play for the Sharks, making one more run at the Stanley Cup after pursuing it for 18 seasons.

>> David Pollak, San Jose Mercury News

I've been an unhappy camper lately. This much is certain.

And maybe this is me feeding off that raw, visceral, negative energy that has wormed it's way into my soul, blowing through my veins like a cancer you can't quite place. An ocean that's just an inch too deep, an undertow that's just a tick too turbulent.

But for the life of me, I can't figure out why the Sharks wouldn't sign Owen Nolan. Especially when they decided to throw league-minimum dollars at a player like Jamal Mayers earlier this offseason.

It doesn't make much sense to me.


Jamal Mayers vs. Owen Nolan

Year
Player Team GP Qualcomp GFON/60 GAON/60 +/- ON/60
PTS/60 PK TOI PK GAON/60 PK GAOFF/60
07-08 Mayers
STL
80
0.059
1.87
3.16
-1.29
1.48
3:36
6.11
3.59
07-08 Nolan
CGY
77
0.020
2.38
2.13
0.25
1.57
1:51
7.76
6.59
08-09
Mayers
TOR
71
-0.027
1.88
2.57
-0.69
1.48
1:46
11.70
8.69
08-09
Nolan
MIN
59
-0.026
2.82
1.96
0.86
2.20
0:05
N/A
N/A
09-10 Mayers
TOR, CGY
71
-0.069
1.74
2.05
-0.31
1.43
0:51
19.42
8.30
09-10 Nolan
MIN
73
-0.021
2.05
2.51
-0.46
1.39
1:25
5.79
6.14

Last season both players were pretty comparable in just about every category-- Nolan saw a little tougher competition, Mayers ended up a little higher on the +/- per 60 scale, points were a wash. The only real difference was that Nolan had a much better year on the kill, but I'm not going to sit here and tell you that Nolan is a penalty killing dynamo. He's not. He'd probably chip in just as much as Mayers will this season, a shift or two per game, put in your time and call it a night.

The difference between both guys? Goal scoring ability. Nolan has banged the twine 41 times during the last two years, while Mayers has done it 10. If you're looking to add some scoring pop on the lower lines, there's no debate as to who would be the more effective addition.

If we assume that Nolan would be brought on board at near the league-minimum salary (in Pollak's piece Nolan states that money is not an issue for him, competing for a Stanley Cup is), there's no doubt San Jose could make it work. Here's two different pairs of bottom lines, one with Nolan and one without:

Jamie McGinn - Logan Couture - Owen Nolan

Cam Macintyre/Frazer McLaren/Jamal Mayers - Scott Nichol - Torrey Mitchell

***

Jamie McGinn - Logan Couture - Torrey Mitchell

Cam Macintrye/Frazer McLaren - Scott Nichol - Jamal Mayers

Maybe it's just me, but a third line with Nolan scares me a helluva lot more than anything the Sharks currently are capable of putting on the ice. McGinn-Couture-Nolan, in theory, would be one of the better third lines San Jose has iced for awhile now, with scoring pop from all three players turning the Sharks into a team with three legitimate scoring lines.

Something they'll likely need with the current blueline in place.

Maybe I've been a little harsh on Doug Wilson and the organization lately-- it's clear that the Sharks are still going to be a great team next year, with lots of success night in night out. They'll make the playoffs, likely start their first two playoff games at home, and be a Stanley Cup contender in some form or another right when the postseason puck drops in April.

And maybe I've come to expect the big fish out of Doug Wilson-- he's pulled a rabbit out of his hat so many times before, acquiring players like Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, and Dany Heatley in moves that cost relatively little compared to what each of these guys bring to the team. He's done a helluva job over the years getting his team in position to compete, and there's no doubt in my mind he's one of the better GM's in the League.

But looking at the additions this offseason, I seem to find myself more confused by the moves than pleased. The oft-discussed blueliner remains as elusive as ever, salary has been tied up in two players who are nothing but a step sideways (Wallin, Niemi, $4.5MM between them), and there's been no legitimate rumors connecting the Sharks to a noteworthy player outside of Willie Mitchell two weeks ago.

Whatever.

Just get me some hockey and I guess I'll be fine.

 

Go Sharks.

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