Defending Devin Setoguchi

There's been a lot of talk in Sharks chat rooms lately about trades. Ryane Clowe here, Kent Huskins there. It's to be expected at this time of year.

However, when a certain two names come up in trade talks, my blood boils. My skin crawls. I throw up a little in my mouth, and then go on a week long bender.

It really shouldn't get to me... I should feel sorry for the people who suggest these trades. They were most likely dropped on their heads when young or confused asbestos insulation with cotton candy. Something has to explain why people feel like they are intellegently adding to the conversation when they bring up names like Setoguchi or Vlasic in trade talks.

Plank has already delved into the topic of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, but Setoguchi proposals are the newest form of idiocy. So even though I feel like I'm pandering to the mentally insane, I'll humor the crazies for a second. So cross your legs Indian-style, and I'll walk through this picture book for you. Don't worry; I left out all the big words.

Let's start with the fact that Devin Setoguchi is 23 years old. Last year, at 22, he scored 31 goals and assisted on 34 more. In the NHL. Whad you do when you were 22? Take third in the (insert your shool's worst frat here) pizza eating contest? Get the high score on DDR in the student union? Organize a dorm wide Halo tournament? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Most people are down on Setoguchi because of his production this year. He can't score without Joe Thornton, he's slumping, and he's a one year wonder. Blah blah blah. Why don't we go ahead and factor in a 10 game injury layoff at the beginning of the season. Oh, and also the fact that when he came back, he was relegated to garbage minutes and checking line duty for about two weeks.

In these circumstances, you'd think the fans would be forgiving... but no. Well, if numbers are indeed the argument, then let's look at them more closely. In 48 games this year, he has 14 goals. Stretch that production over an 82 game season and that's 24 goals. Not too shabby. When you look at how he was performing before his injury on October 24th against Atlanta (7 G in 10 games), he was on pace for 54 goals. I'm not saying that was sustainable, but still, pretty damn impressive.

Yeah, he's been less productive since he was moved off Joe Thornton's wing. Who wouldn't be? That's like giving someone a computer, letting them use it for a year, and then suddenly replacing it with a calculator and asking them to do word processing. For Setoguchi, the change was especially hampering when coming off an injury that not only kept him out of the game but messed with one of his biggest assets... speed.

Now, with consistent linemates, Setoguchi is starting to look like the 2008-2009/early season version of himself again. His speed is back, and he's taking shots. Where you can see the biggest confidence boost, though, is in the physical game. Whoever looks at Setoguchi's game and calls him soft is not only blind, but stupid. He may not be the soundest defensive player, but he finishes checks like a motherfucker, and is one of the most determined forecheckers on the team. That aspect of his game is starting to return. The points will follow.

Maybe you're just thinking that we can parlay Setoguchi for something better? Yeah, because it's easy to trade a 23 year old RFA who scores 25-30 goals and makes $850,000. There is almost no player that gives you more bang for your buck than Setoguchi does, and those players are usually untouchable. Even if you don't think Setoguchi will be signed in the off-season, you don't trade him at the deadline. You let him walk as an RFA and reap the benefits, which would be at least one 1st rounder. It usually doesn't even come to that. I'm 90% sure that both Setoguchi and Joe Pavelski will sign, and even if they don't, the comps are favorable for a solid return. The last significant RFA's who moved in the off-season were Phil Kessel and Dustin Penner. I'd put Setoguchi's potential somewhere in between the two. Kessel netted a top three pick in 2010, a likely top 10 pick in 2011, and an early second round pick in 2010. When Penner signed with Edmonton, the Ducks received 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks. And here, people are thinking about trading Setoguchi for a depth defenseman? Please.

Even if you believe that Setoguchi will get only marginally better over the next five years, he will likely approach (and exceed) 30 goals at some point in the future. No, he's not Patrick Marleau or Dany Heatley. Few players are. But he's an asset to the team now and in the future, and he's a player simply brimming with potential.

It's expected that Setoguchi will be resigned in the off-season, and this "down" year will help the Sharks get a great deal on his services long term. Even though he's practically the same player as he was in his career year last year, his down year will help contract negotiations on the Sharks end. A five year deal worth anywhere from $15-17.5 MM? Sign me up.

I don't know why I've spent so much time on this subject, especially when Khaaz explained it so well just days ago. Why don't you trade Seto?

Cuz Seto has fuck tons of potential and he has a low salary cap hit.

Consice, insightful, vulgar. If only all Sharks fans could be so eloquent.

Go Sharks.