Friend of the Blog Kevin Kurz took time out of his busy schedule to do a quick Q&A session with Fear the Fin. The questions are sourced from the crack editorial staff of your favorite* Sharks blog. Without further ado, on to the questions.
1. Do you think Patrick Marleau will be dealt before the trade deadline?
It wouldn't completely shock me, but I have a hard time seeing that happen considering the way the Sharks are playing and Marleau's significant salary through 2016-17. This is a team that is supposed to contend now, and it would be difficult to get back equal value for a guy who's currently your second/third line center. That said, unless the Sharks make a deep playoff run or there's some sort of organizational blow up, my guess is that this is his last season in San Jose just based on what I've heard and what has been reported from other outlets.
Still, this is and always has been a fluid situation. He could simply change his mind at any time.
2. What do you see as the biggest need for the Sharks as the deadline looms?
Defense is still at the top of the list, as far as I'm concerned. The Sharks are fortunate that they've been able to stay so healthy on the blue line this season, and that Dylan DeMelo has come in and really locked down that sixth spot.
Still, after DeMelo, this is an extremely thin group. I still get the sense that Matt Tennyson hasn't proved himself to Pete DeBoer yet (just like he never did with Todd McLellan), and Mirco Mueller simply needs more time in the minors after he was mishandled by the organization. We've seen that Brent Burns isn't the same player without Paul Martin, and Justin Braun isn't the same player without Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Martin and Vlasic have been hurt in the recent past. If there's any way to acquire a top four, or even just a top six, Wilson should make that his priority.
The backup goalie situation frightens me too, of course. Alex Stalock doesn't have it anymore, and there's no reason to think he could fill in for Jones for even a game or two in the playoffs.
3. What's your sense for how much autonomy Doug Wilson has from Hasso Plattner as far as making moves goes?
I've never gotten the impression that the Sharks have any sort of internal salary cap. Considering they bought out Adam Burish and Marty Havlat and retained salary on the Jason Demers trade, that suggests to me they aren't restricted financially. Wilson has said in the past, too, that he is free to spend to the salary cap.
4. Internally, where is the success bar placed for the Sharks? Is it cup or bust?
I don't know about cup or bust, but this team is supposed to be primed for a long playoff run after Wilson was so public about 2014-15 being a transitional year that included a change in the leadership structure. This is an older team that is surrounded by several other clubs in the Pacific Division that have younger and better up-and-coming players than they do. I'm not sure how far they would have to go in order for Wilson and the front office to be safe, but winning at least one playoff round should be necessary.
5. If Marleau is traded, what would you consider a fair return?
Depends on when they trade him. If it's now, I think they would need at least a scoring forward in addition to a depth defenseman. If it happens in the summer, I would guess they'll go for a higher caliber defenseman and try to fill the void up front in other ways. It's always been Wilson's philosophy that it's easier to find forwards via free agency or in the system than it is to add blueliners.
Thanks to Kurzy for spending some time with us.