Final Thoughts on Brent Burns and Devin Setoguchi Before Free Agency Begins
Yesterday both Matt and I looked at the addition of Brent Burns, coming to the conclusion that he makes the team much better next season and, well, yeah he makes the team a whole lot better next season. However, today I'd like to put the pom poms away a little bit, step back, and try and pick apart some nuanced details of the trade that could effect San Jose for years to come.
- I really feel for Devin Setoguchi. He was on the Minnesota Wild Pondcast and seemed pretty shocked at what had transpired yesterday. Credit to Doug Wilson for aggressively getting what he needed and improving San Jose's chances at winning a Stanley Cup next season, but pour one out for Seto this weekend.
- Setoguchi really seemed like a guy who had begun to put it all together again, and I would not have been surprised to see him pot 30 goals next season playing alongside Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton. He had an excellent end to the season, played well in the playoffs, and seemed to be moving in the right direction heading into 2011-2012. Best of luck to him and Coyle in Minnesota.
- The Sharks have managed to get players like Devin Setoguchi, Joe Pavelski, and Ryane Clowe to sign discount deals after their entry level contracts are up, with those "bridge" contracts eventually leading to a pay increase ($3.0 MM+) and job security (3+ years) during the last contract before they hit UFA status. After San Jose announced Setoguchi had signed a multi-year contract only to trade him the next day however, I think it's fair to expect that younger players such as Logan Couture to demand more money right out of the gate. Hockey is a business, it applies both ways, and it only makes sense for agents to realize that their clients' job security is dependent upon factors out of their control. Maximize what you can control when you have the opportunity to do so.
- In other words, selling the "hometown discount" is a little harder to do during the first foray into free agency if that "payoff" comes and the player is subsequently moved.
- Brent Burns impending UFA status is related to this. I'm certain that Doug Wilson will push hard for an extension throughout this year (probably beginning next week in fact), but Burns stands to make a lot of money in the free agent market next season as a 27 year old UFA defenseman entering into the prime of his career. His agent, Ron Salcer, is a player's agent who drove a hard bargain with Minnesota management during contract negotiations with Marian Gaborik and Burns, and he was quite vocal in 2009 when the Wild allegedly misdiagnosed a concussion Burns had sustained that year.
- Courtesy of Sports Agent Blog: "Flash forward and Salcer is now credited with many things modern players take for granted: agents can no longer represent players and coaches or club executives, players’ salaries have skyrocketed, the pension fund is well endowed by events such as the World Cup, and players are kept up to date about NHLPA finances. So when Salcer gets miffed, like he was this past week on behalf of his client, Gaborik, people pay attention. Sounds like the Duke."
- On the open market Brent Burns costs you at least $5.0 MM on a multi-year deal. If he has a big year in San Jose (which I think is a reasonable expectation), those numbers could increase. He's going to be an expensive player to keep around for all the right reasons.
- All that being said, there's no doubt San Jose aggressively pursues a contract extension with Burns this summer and throughout the season as well. A big factor in all of this is that he has a full season with the team and will participate in training camp. That deepens the emotional bond with the organization and adds another factor into all of this. For a 26 year old player to come into an organization that is a perennial contender for a Stanley Cup, has reached two Western Conference Finals in a row, and won't be looking for him to be The Man every single night on the ice, this is a desirable situation to put yourself in over the long haul.
- If San Jose doesn't win the Cup next season and Burns walks in free agency, this trade puts the team on the ledge. Charlie Coyle and Devin Setoguchi were the future of this franchise and that type of loss can really shortarm a team for years down the road. If San Jose doesn't win the Cup next season but Burns is signed, this trade is a win. If San Jose wins the Cup and Burns walks in free agency, this trade is a win. If San Jose wins the Cup and Burns is signed, this trade is a win.
- I'm excited for Burns' offensive ability but hope he can clean up his defensive game. Although they are two entirely different players at vastly different stages of their career, the transformation of Jason Demers under Todd McLellan last season indicates there is an ability to do so. If Burns is Ian White on steroids in the offensive zone but has the same defensive miscues he had in relative abundance during his stint with Minnesota, San Jose's ability to hold leads in the third period can still be an issue.
- I don't think there's any reason to bring back Ian White into San Jose now. The Sharks got their puck moving offensive defenseman. They should be looking for a defensive first guy who will help solidify the defensive end. Jan Hejda, Paul Mara, Scott Hannan, and Andy Greene are all players with varying value to look out for who play a lot of shorthanded minutes and could come in to play a key role.
- Targeting a quick winger to replace the speed of Setoguchi is another asset that should be pursued this offseason.
- Defensive defenseman, quick winger-- none of them compare to the need for penalty killing forwards. With Scott Nichol and Jamal Mayers leaving, and Pavelski/Marleau leading the team in SH TOI last year, this is the biggest need for the Sharks on July 1st hands down.
- As I said yesterday: "Although the Sharks have always had the aura of a Stanley Cup contender surrounding them heading into the offseason, the roster heading into July 1st has never been this good. Top six forward group? Check. Top four defenseman? Check. Goaltending situation? Check. From here on out it is all about identifying and signing third/fourth line forwards and a defensive defenseman. And while those pieces are immensely important to a team's ability to go deep in the playoffs, they are transactions that are infinitely easier to make compared to one that involves a number two d-man that has shown flashes of being a franchise player."
- The Sharks just went all-in with this acquisition and I love it. Calculated risks are what hockey is all about, and I think it shows a side of Doug Wilson that we really haven't seen before.
- Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I'm expecting free agency to be a gong show this year with $9.0 MM in cap space left. San Jose is going to get even better by this time next week.