2011 Free Agency: John Madden

via 4.bp.blogspot.com

Leadership. Playoff experience. Work ethic. Face-off prowess. Defensive acumen. Deceptive scoring ability. All things that the San Jose Sharks will look to add to their team when the free agency period begins tomorrow. 

There is a player out there who is not only known to possess some these things, but excels in each discipline.

It's a shame he's 38.

Yes, John Madden has become known for each one of the skills listed above. He has won three Stanley Cups (Two with New Jersey and one with Chicago) over the course of his twelve-season NHL career, becoming known for his commitment to the defensive aspects of the game. However, at 38, it's unknown how much left he has left in the tank.

Last season, Madden played out a one-year deal signed with Minnesota admirably, scoring 10 goals and 25 points in 76 games played. Sadly, it was the first time in the last ten postseasons that we didn't see Madden's face in the playoffs; the Wild failed to make the playoffs for the third straight year and Madden headed to the off-season a bit earlier than he was accustomed to.

By no means did Madden have a poor year; his scoring totals were close to his career average while playing an impressive 15:20 per game. He also posted a 51% face-off percentage, played 2:27 shorthanded a night and collected 44 take-aways, a testament to his strong defensive play. He also took just five minor penalties all season.

But there are some signs of aging here. He has slowed from his prime and seemed to trail as the season progressed, injured in early April and sitting out the teams final games.

Although he contemplated retirement, Madden told Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he would like to return for another year, to have another shot with a contender. "My family's willing to move and try to win one more Cup somewhere else," said Madden.

Still, Madden's skill set makes him an interesting option for San Jose to consider, especially if they look to add these types of skills on the free agent market. Madden will likely come cheaper than younger players on July 1st, and could add some of the things San Jose is looking for at a more affordable price. His leadership ability and Cup experience would also be a plus, something that players like Joel Ward, Eric Belanger and Vernon Fiddler don't possess.

I've been a fan of the Devils my whole life (my mom is from New Jersey, and the Devils have always held a place in my heart behind San Jose), and there's currently a #11 jersey hanging in my closet somewhere. Madden has always been one of my favorite players; it's hard not to like his commitment. I would love to see Madden finish his career in San Jose, but with Doug Wilson's claim that he wants his team wants to get younger, I don't know if I see it happening.

He probably doesn't sign day one of free agency, possibly even week one or month one. If the beginning of the season approaches and the Sharks haven't fixed their needs and Madden is still available, perhaps the addition becomes more likely.

Contract: One year deal worth $900,000.

Role: Plays limited minutes on the fourth line at center or at wing next to Desjardins. Logs heavy minutes on San Jose's penalty kill.

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