Sharks Gameday: Finding A Groove



7:30 PST
28-10-7, 63 points 25-17-3, 53 points
2nd in Western Conference
8th in Western Conference
98.5 KFOX,
Battle of California
The Royal Half

The FTF-proclaimed months of optimal standings points accumulation have been an interesting road thus far-- a five game losing streak, followed by a eight game winning streak, followed by two blowouts wedged in between a late game comeback against the St. Louis Blues. There hasn't been a whole lot of consistency from the squad as a whole during this period, and sure enough Marleau and Heatley continue to account for roughly 40% of the team's goal output. It's a trend that we're going to take a look at later this week (along with the blueline's production), but a nasty case of the 24 hour flu (which I initally believed to be food poisoning-- turns out my vegan friend came down with the same symptoms, which sort of rules that one out) put productivity on permanent hiatus.

So what do we have today? Hate to break it to you, but it's another porous effort from your blogger in chief. Well, sort of. It's actually a hybrid version of Shootin' The Shit*, where I'd like to open the floor to get your opinions on what will be the hot topic of the trade deadline, Ilya Kovalchuk.

*So much for throwing one out there "every non-gameday Friday" eh?

As those with even a casual pulse on the NHL are aware of, the superstar Russian sniper has been mentioned in numerous rumor pieces lately. The Western Conference front runners run the gamut from Calgary to Chicago to Los Angeles, and a lot of the "likely" deals make some sense-- defenseman Dion Phaneuf from the Flames provides the Thrashers with a young player who's locked up for a lengthy term, and the Blackhawks, while running a salary ship sailing in the same seas as San Jose, have some talent in the $3.00 M range that could be pieced together to make a deal work as well.

Then there's Los Angeles, which might be the most compelling option. The Kings have amassed a formidable minor league system with their high draft selections in the past seven years, and have the cap space to swing a deal for Kovalchuk without giving up any roster players-- the likelihood of that is slim to none considering Atlanta would need a tangible piece to show their fans considering the importance of Kovalchuk to their franchise, but it nonetheless strengthens Lombardi's bargaining position. There's no need for him to crunch numbers here, only asset talent and the risk of potentially giving up a blossoming young star for twenty five odd games of pure goal-scoring prowess. Lombardi's been patient as all hell during the rebuilding process, and you have to think that he wouldn't green light a move like this unless he thought he had a good chance of re-signing Kovalchuk in the offseason. The West is just too deep this season (read: every season) for him to jump into this without a good hard look at what it means for 2010-2011.

Wherever Kovalchuk lands (and my guess is that he's headed on his way out if current contract negotiations are any indicator-- Atlanta can't afford to let him walk for nothing), it's safe to say that team will be considered a Stanley Cup contender from the moment he walks into the dressing room. And if it's Los Angeles? Let's just say a playoff draw against them would look even worse than it did one week ago.

Prediction: Sharks win 3-2. Goals by McGinn, Heatley, and Blake.

Go Sharks.