One last look at Niclas Wallin (because Willie Watch is getting old)

When I sleep, I sleep like the sun.

Willie Watch came and went this weekend, with no new information except he's expecting to make his decision sometime early this week. Whether or not that happens, who knows. I'm not over him as an acquisition (I would love to see him in teal obviously), but I'm kind of done writing about him until news breaks on where he'll end up. I've flooded the front page with enough material this summer to make the point that I think he's a good player.

Regardless, it's Monday and the Sharks are still looking for a defenseman to fit into that two-three hole. And while I think it's clear that Doug Wilson is looking for an upgrade via trade/free agency, today I'm going to assume he doesn't find a deal to his liking and rolls into 2010-2011 with the blueline that is currently in place.

My rays blanket me and burn everyone.

As I see it, here are the pairings going into next season:

Dan Boyle - Douglas Murray

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Niclas Wallin

Kent Huskins - Jason Demers

Jay Leach

Not the strongest group of guys to say the least, but similar to last year except the loss of Rob Blake has effectively been replaced by Niclas Wallin.

Boyle and Vlasic are solid players who are legitimate top three guys on just about every team in the NHL. Murray's an average top four guy who started to struggle as the year wore on, but can still get you effective minutes in these kinds of situations against slower opposing players. Huskins is overpaid but more than able to get you serviceable bottom pairing minutes, and Demers is a young kid with a load of offensive talent who should improve defensively with a year under his belt.

These streets I paved in gold never emphasized restraint.

Really, the only guy who is a true question mark in terms of where he will be slotted to play is Niclas Wallin. TCY and I were quite critical of the deal when it was announced earlier this summer, but for the sake of establishing some form of objectivity, let's see if the last three years of his professional career can show us something we missed.

What follows is Wallin's statistics from 2007-2010, with rankings according to how he fared against his teammates in the relevant categories. His 2009-2010 year has been separated into two separate sections.

As always, huge tip of the hat to Behind The Net.

Niclas Wallin ES

07-08 66
0.44 (7th)
1.75 (8th)
3.17 (8th)
3.07 (8th)
2.08 (8th)
-0.013 (5th)
15:05 (4th)
2:50 (4th)
0.62 (5th)
1.93 (6th)
2.50 (6th)
2.07 (2nd)
2.62 (1st)
0.002 (5th)
13:58 (6th)
2:10 (3rd)
09-10 CAR
0.37 (7th)
2.05 (6th)
2.55 (6th)
2.42 (2nd)
2.88 (2nd)
0.017 (4th)
14:30 (6th)
2:58 (3rd)
09-10 SJS

0.37 (7th)
2.05 (8th)
2.55 (3rd)
2.42 (6th)
2.88 (1st)
0.017 (4th)
14:17 (6th)
1:56 (5th)

So what does this tell us? 07-08 was an absolute disaster for Wallin, 08-09 was a better one, and 09-10 seems to be somewhere in the middle. I like what I see out of his goals against on ice numbers in relation to his teammates-- he does a good job of holding his own in that regard, and won't be bleeding goals out there. That being said, the fact that he facilitates almost no offense from the backend (GF/ON) and has been a minus player every season is a definite black mark, especially when one considers the quality of competition he sees.

I like the fact that he can kill penalties-- the loss of Rob Blake in this category means you're going to need a veteran to step up and eat some of those minutes, and Wallin's a good guy to get you some shifts on the periphery. He won't be a dynamo, but he'll contribute. Even strength ice time over the last four years tells me that the coaching staff probably won't expect him to play all too much in the top four, if at all, and an increasing age (35 years old) cements that notion.

I am the calloused hands that hope, I pray with sinners and saints.

To summarize, it doesn't appear as if the Sharks will be able to count on Wallin for top four minutes. He's a stretch for this role if the roster remains the same, and San Jose will need to upgrade the blueline at some point this year if they wish to legitimately contend for a Stanley Cup in the spring.

Go Sharks.