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I am a long time Sharks fan who is getting absolutely sick of watching my team roll over and die come playoff time. Yes, they made it to the conference finals the past couple of years (not including this one obviously), but let's be real - Chicago and Vancouver walked all over them. I have always felt that the majority of the team lacked the heart, tenacity, and effort needed to clear the last hurdle and get to the finals. Further, they lacked discipline and speed to keep up with the big boys in the conference. Personally, I am hoping for some major changes as the current core group isn't getting the job done when it matters most.
Realistically, what should we expect from Doug Wilson this summer? Who stays, who goes, and do you think any big name players will be added via trade (e.g., Nash) or free agency (e.g., Parise)? Thanks for your time Darren!
A: Scott, it's possible Wilson once again attacks his core in an effort to push this team over the hump, but it seems unlikely. Thornton, Couture, Pavelski, Clowe, Havlat and Boyle are all important pieces and contractually, in some cases, hard to move. Likewise for Patrick Marleau, whose name I purposely excluded from the list for sake of further discussion. Marleau's future is questioned on an annual basis and always in the days after the Sharks are eliminated from the playoffs. He's a proven 30-goal man, but expectation has never matched reality in terms of his overall production. Marleau has a no-trade/no move clause and will earn $6.9 million per for the next two seasons. It's hard to imagine Marleau could convince his family to move to Columbus to help facilitate a trade for Rick Nash and the only way this should be considered as even a remote possibility is to include a third team getting involved, providing Marleau with a more attractive opportunity both personally and professionally. Again...not likely. Wilson is a very active GM and I have no doubt he will make appropriate gestures in free agency if either Ryan Suter or Zach Parise choose to go that route, but to add another salary at $7 million or more will require additional moves to make financial sense. I don't think it's ever fair to question the heart of an NHL player, but in Round 1, it was clear the St. Louis Blues were willing to pay a price the Sharks couldn't - or weren't prepared to - match.
What do you think was Paul MacLean's logic putting Jakub Silfverberg in the Sens' lineup in their first-round series? He may have been a good player overseas, but had no playing time this year with the Sens or Baby Sens!
A: Chris, no sense second-guessing now. Ottawa battled hard and pushed the top team in the East to the brink of elimination. Silfverberg was a standout player in both the Swedish Elite League's regular season and playoffs and Sens GM Bryan Murray says he worked hard to convince the young Swede to stay in Ottawa last fall, but Silfverberg wanted to return to his home country for one more year. MacLean was hoping for a little spark from Silfverberg. Why not throw something at the Rangers they probably weren't planning on or expecting? When you have injuries, or players playing hurt, which is the norm this time of year, confident and creative coaches will find ways to inject new blood into their lineup. It's easy to say now MacLean's decision to dress Silfverberg was sketchy, but given the fact he had made the team out of training camp and followed that up with a stellar year in the SEL, it was a risk worth taking.
Do you think Tim Thomas has played his last game with the Bruins? And do you see them making a lot of changes this year or not a lot because so many of their players weren't producing?
A: Jeff, gut instinct tells me yes - Thomas has likely played his last game with the Bruins. The 38-year-old has one year remaining at $5 million (cap hit) and contractually, can't be traded before July 1 without consent. My view is the Bruins see Tuukka Rask as being ready to handle the challenge of being a No. 1. He's paid his dues and will be more affordable than Thomas, which given the Bruins payroll next season ($59 million-plus), GM Peter Chiarelli is going to have to spend his money wisely. Rask, who's scheduled to become a restricted free agent, will get a beefy raise on the $1.25 million he earned this season. In 23 games, Boston's backup posted an impressive .929 save percentage providing further evidence he's good to go. There will be changes in Boston aside from goaltending. Chiarelli has seven unrestricted free agents to deal with including veterans, Joe Corvo, Gregory Campbell and Chris Kelly. Campbell and Kelly will very likely return, but there will be a natural turnover based on expiring contracts.
We're not hearing much from Montreal about where they're at with the GM search, but do you buy into the fan theory that the new GM will have to have Patrick Roy as the new head coach?
A: Sarah, give credit to the four-man hiring committee in Montreal for doing an excellent job of keeping this process low key and hidden from public scrutiny. It's my understanding progress in the search for a GM is being made and a final decision and subsequent announcement may be only days away. As for Patrick Roy, I don't believe for a second the hiring of the general manager in any way is connected to Patrick Roy as Montreal's next head coach. At the beginning of this search, my sources stated the new GM would be given the freedom to determine Randy Cunneyworth's fate and ultimately, his successor on the Canadiens bench. Roy would be an excellent candidate as would Marc Crawford or perhaps Alain Vigneault if the Vancouver Canucks opt for a coaching change. More on that below.
So it looks like Bobby Lu is heading out of Van City, we all know its just a matter of time and the Luongo ultimately has a choice of teams to go to, my question is what can the Canucks expect back in return for him other then cap space, as it looks like there are some teams around the league that do have interest in his services!
A: Hi Monica. I don't see any way Roberto Luongo returns to the Canucks. By starting Cory Schneider in three consectuive first round playoff games, the message to Luongo was delivered and received. Schneider is the goalie this team believes in and intends to move forward with. Luongo isn't going to kick up a fuss or stomp his feet on the way out of town, but he is going to have considerable input into where a trade will move his family. Obviously, his mega-term contract is going to have a negative impact on the number of teams interested, but it's hard to imagine Toronto, Chicago, Tampa Bay and perhaps Florida won't be among them. Cap space for the Canucks will dictate the return, but the true contenders for Luongo will appreciate his value covers the next 3-5 years. After that, the contract and $5.3 million cap hit becomes an anchor. For this reason, Vancouver may have to take a bad contract back...along with a young asset and draft pick likely included.