One of the main complaints people have had in the past is that Doug Wilson waits too long to assemble his team. He almost never seems to make a deal or sign a free agent until either late in the summer or during the season (Dan Boyle trade excepted) In fact, he criticized himself for not having this team together until January.
That has not been the case this year. Doug Wilson has been one of the most active GMs in the league. Arguably only the Flyers have experienced more change this offseason than the Sharks. But how has Doug Wilson done? The individual trades have been dissected ad nauseum so I thought it might be nice to look at the big picture.
We all knew what the Sharks' weaknesses were:
- The penalty kill was ranked 24th
- We were coughing up 3rd period leads
- Dan Boyle was playing a million (slight exaggeration) minutes a game
We knew what the Sharks had:
- Scoring depth
Doug Wilson has always done a very good job in identifying and addressing needs, maybe not in the way we the fans would like, but he has usually done an admirable job. I would argue that his offseason body of work this year is the best work he has done since the Dan Boyle trade and possibly even going back to the Joe Thornton trade.
Let's look at what he's done:
- He traded a young consistent 20 goal scorer with potential and a top prospect for a #2 defenseman with outstanding size and offensive numbers
- He signed the top penalty killer away from the 4th ranked penalty kill
- He signed a gritty #6-7 defenseman to give the young defensive prospects room to grow and make mistakes
- He traded the largest contract on the team, which belonged to a not-meeting expectations sniper, for a defensively responsible, fast, top 6 winger
So what has changed this offseason?
Doug Wilson has added size, grit and scoring pop to the blue line through the additions of Brent Burns and Jim Vandermeer. This will also allow Justin Braun to get a shot a cracking the top six and reduce Dan Boyle's minutes. He has made the Sharks tougher to play against by adding size through Michal Handzus and replacing Setoguchi's speed with a just as fast, but more defensively responsible forward in Martin Havlat. If we look at just the trades (calculated on PPG numbers from 2009-10 and 2010-11), Doug Wilson has given up 4 points per season for a #2 defenseman and 2.5 million in cap space. Should he sign both Burns and our should have won the Calder wunderkid to significant extensions it would be a monumental achievement.
Most people feel that there is more to come, but even if there isn't, I believe this has been a hugely successful offseason that will allow us to compete for the Cup in the upcoming season.