With new breaking last night that the Sharks are currently in the mix to "make a deal sometime soon to add more experience, speed, size, energy and grit to the third or fourth line," the first question that comes to mind is obviously one of perceived importance. Over the last two seasons Fear The Fin has highlighted the blueline as San Jose's weakness, advocating countless names that would provide a jumpstart to the team in their quest to win a Stanley Cup.
It's been a focal point for many, an obsession for some. That ever elusive top three defenseman who would ride into the city on a chariot of fire, striking down scoring chances with pinpoint accuracy while holstering a stick blade forged from the center of the sun. A player who would instantly transform the team from an underperforming cast of talented players into a behemoth in the Western Conference, able to go toe to toe with the likes of Detroit and Vancouver in a seven game series and survive to tell the tale.
According to David Pollak of Working The Corners however, Sharks GM Doug Wilson has a few more matters to attend to beforehand:
But word starting to circulate tonight says don’t be surprised if the Sharks make a deal sometime soon to add more experience, speed, size, energy and grit to the third or fourth line.
Now I know that’s not necessarily perceived as the team’s greatest need and there’s no doubt that GM Doug Wilson was looking for blue-line help during the off-season and, probably, beyond.
But when it comes to filling out forward lines, the Sharks have relied pretty heavily on Worcester this season, perhaps bringing some players up a little early in the development process. And not that anybody’s giving up on any of those players, there could be a little more urgency to improve the situation with Ryane Clowe and Torrey Mitchell (again) out with injuries and San Jose currently on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs go.
The particulars of the situation are more complicated than one would think at first glance-- according to CapGeek, San Jose has the sixth least amount of salary cap space to use in acquiring a player amongst all 30 NHL teams. In terms of a roster player for futures type swap, which would mean no salary is coming off of the Sharks books, the organization has the ability to acquire a player in the $1.76MM range. That doesn't leave a whole lot of options for the team if they are looking to upgrade without losing a current contributor, and makes any trade for a third or fourth line forward detrimental to the acquisition of a blueliner down the road if they decide not to part ways with a roster player.
In other words, if this deal does in fact come to fruition, you'd be hard pressed to think that Doug Wilson isn't pushing the GM in question to take some salary off his hands as well. It's either that or the right deal for a blueliner just doesn't seem to be in the cards for San Jose this year, and better to upgrade a team need now instead of waiting for a big fish to suddenly become available at the deadline when a bidding war may ensue that San Jose doesn't have the assets or cap space to acquire.
With Wilson, you never know when the shoe is going to drop. He's as tight-lipped as any in the business, and that respect for the bargaining process filters down all throughout the organization. Getting hard intel on the particulars of a given player or trade are a fool's errand on most days-- there usually isn't anything out there other than editorial speculation and wishful thinking.
Which is why when David Pollak writes about something specific, there's little doubt the wheels are greased and talks are nearing the final stages.
As TCY wrote yesterday, ($2.33MM) and Jarko Ruutu ($1.33MM) have been linked to the Sharks in recent rumors, and both fit the criteria of a 3rd/4th line winger who brings experience to the bottom lines. Brunette is a much more desirable option out of these two, considering his scoring pop, but does little to help the speed of the bottom lines-- his increasing age and declining skating ability has made him somewhat of a one-trick pony.
Brunette would primarily be counted on to score on the power play with the time and space afforded to him in that situation, and his recent production attests to that-- over the last two seasons Brunette has scored 36 goals, 18 of which have come on the man advantage. In San Jose he'd likely be relegated to a second unit role, and for a team that has consistently produced one of the best power play units in the NHL, Brunette's power play abilities aren't needed as desperately as they would be for another team.
Toss in the fact that he would provide no benefit to a Sharks penalty kill that has struggled with consistency all season long, and Brunette doesn't strike me as a player who provides astounding upside for a team that needs to conserve cap space for a bigger upgrade.
Which isn't to say that Brunette is a bad player-- if Minnesota moves him this year he would help whatever organization he eventually lands with, San Jose included. But with all of the details involved with a potential acquisition of Brunette, it doesn't seem like the most beneficial play.
On the other hand,has a lot of what San Jose needs in respect to a third line winger. As Elliot Friedman speculated yesterday in his weekly 30 Thoughts column, the addition of Glencross could pay off dividends for San Jose. And I couldn't agree more:
The knock on the Sharks over the years: depth. (Losing Manny Malhotra to Vancouver hurt them as much as it helped the Canucks.) They have top-level talent, but not enough on their lower lines/defence pairs. One guy who'd look great in a San Jose uniform? UFA-to-be Curtis Glencross, if the Flames decide to abandon ship.
Glencross fits the bill of what Pollak is reporting in regards to the qualities experience, speed, size, energy and grit. He's a 28 year old third line winger with 255 games of NHL experience (including a few playoff runs), has skating ability that would help improve San Jose's transition game, throws his body around on the forecheck, will chip in around 15 goals per year (almost exclusively at even strength, a huge plus), possesses great awareness in the defensive zone, plays big minutes on the penalty kill, and makes the Sharks a harder team to play against every single night.
Friedman mentions the loss of Malhotra as being one that hurt the Sharks, and although he doesn't make the comparison, there are a lot of similarities between the two players. Talented forwards who have made a name for themselves in the defensive end of the ice but possess that scoring pop which can help ease the burden off the top line at even strength. Although it's unlikely Glencross would ever be asked to fulfill this role in San Jose, he's no stranger to the second line, bouncing around in the middle of the lineup for most of his time in Calgary (much like Malhotra did last season in San Jose).
Although Glencross hasn't seen the toughest quality of competition the last two seasons (seeing predominantly third line forwards), he's made a killing in the goals against department-- his 1.67 GA/60 minutes in 2009-2010 led all Flames forwards who saw regular time in the lineup, and his 1.85 this season is second only to. His shorthanded TOI numbers have consistently been in the upper register, with Glencross leading Calgary this season with 2:34 per game.
His ability to score at even strength is another asset that would make him a valuable addition to the roster. Unlike Brunette, Glencross has never been given ample amounts of power play time, instead being forced to produce at even strength. As we mentioned before, he's exclusively an even strength scorer. Out of the 38 goals Glencross has scored in the last two and half seasons, 4 of them have come with the man advantage-- 6 out of 52 assists he has accrued in that same time frame have been due to the power play. The man makes his offensive living at even strength, which fits what San Jose should be looking for when acquiring a third line forward.
There's a lot of value here if you're looking for a defensive forward to help shore up the bottom lines, and a distinct upside in terms of scoring depth while you're at it.
Glencross is in the last year of his contract, set to be an unrestricted free agent in the summer. His cap hit is a very manageable $1.2MM, which fits in line with the salary space San Jose is looking for when shopping for upgrades. With Calgary in the midst of an extremely disappointing season that already saw them fire long-time GM Darryl Sutter in December, the groundwork has been laid for a rebuild-- it's likely they will want to get younger, which means that a mid-level draft pick and/or prospect is the likely return they're looking for in order to give up Glencross. Not a crippling package by any means, and one that the Sharks should be willing to pay.
If Wilson is indeed looking to upgrade his third line this week, Glencross fits the bill. It may not be the top three defenseman that the Sharks need, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.