UPDATE (2:00 PM PST): Friend of the Blog Kevin Kurz confirmed that Bollig signed a two-way contract. The article has been updated to reflect that.
The San Jose Sharks signed left wing Brandon Bollig to a one-year contract, the team announced today. Bollig spent all of last season with the Stockton Heat after the Calgary Flames waived him in October.
"Bollig is a competitive player who will add a tough edge to the Sharks," General Manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "He brings with him a lot of playoff experience and a Stanley Cup Championship. His grit and physicality will be a great addition to our team."
In 241 career NHL games, Bollig has just over 17 times as many penalty minutes (392) as he does points (23). He scored 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) with the Heat last season.
The Barracuda had some holes to fill in their roster up front after the Sharks did not tender Nikita Jevpalovs a qualifying offer and Buddy Robinson signed elsewhere, and considering that forwards Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, Ryan Carpenter, Marcus Sorensen, and Danny O’Regan will all be in the mix for a spot with the Sharks, if not on the roster outright, next season. Bollig signed a two-way deal, according to Friend of the Blog Kevin Kurz, so it makes sense as a signing to fill out the AHL roster.
Where it won’t make sense, though, is if Bollig breaks camp with the big club. The Sharks have a glut of bottom six forwards, and need to give the previously mentioned young players opportunities to prove themselves and develop. Playing Bollig would prevent that. Considering San Jose’s usage of Micheal Haley last season, and Mike Brown the season before that, they aren’t averse to playing enforcers for a majority of the team’s games.
Head Coach Peter DeBoer spoke highly of how Haley played last season, and the team clearly valued his presence and role. This leads to another head-scratching aspect of the Bollig signing: if the Sharks wanted someone like Haley in the locker room, why not just bring back Haley? As the following chart from Own the Puck shows, Bollig is a downgrade.
Bollig’s scored his career-high in points (14) in a season where he played 82 games. Haley’s (12) came last season, when he played 58. Bollig’s career points-per-game (0.10) is also lower than Haley’s (0.12).
I’ll spare you my thoughts on the role of, and need for, enforcers in today’s NHL (it’s a holiday after all). The frustrating part of this signing, if the Sharks see Bollig as a part of their NHL roster, is that they could have done better and simply re-signed Haley. DeBoer called Haley “the new-age tough guy” last season. Bollig is more of a throwback, and the Sharks should not be looking to turn back the clock.
San Jose can always waive him, and not have his salary cap count against the salary cap. That may make his contract more bearable, but won’t it any less misguided.