Monday, August 1, 2011

San Jose Sharks: 3 Simple Reasons Why They Are Better A Better Team This Season

The San Jose Sharks and GM Doug Wilson have been extremely busy this offseason, Their flurry of trades and signings have been well-documented throughout the league, and some wonder whether or not they were for the betterment of the team.

The Sharks started off by trading young winger Devin Setoguchi, prospect Charlie Coyle and their first round pick to the Minnesota Wild for All-Star defenseman Brent Burns.

They backed that up a week or so later in another trade with the Wild. This time it was Dany Heatley in exchange for the speedy Martin Havlat.

The main discussion after the trades was how this was to affect the Sharks' odds at another Stanley Cup run next season.

San Jose gave up scoring talent to acquire players that could fill the holes that the team lacked last season.

In all reality, the Sharks got better.

Here are three simple reasons why the Sharks will be better heading into next season.

1. The San Jose Sharks' Defense Is Solid

The acquisition for one of the best young defensemen in hockey today, Brent Burns, is going to notably improve the blueline for the Sharks.

In the 2010-11 season, the Sharks' defense seemed to be lackluster and was undoubtedly the team's weakness throughout the season. It became extremely clear during the playoffs.

Reports are that the Sharks still plan on rolling out the duo of Dan Boyle and Douglas Murray as their first line. That line would be followed by Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Jason Demers and Jim Vandermeer would take up the third line.

Burns is the most notable addition to this defense. He gives the team a physical appearance, something that the team lacked last season and were set on improving this offseason.

The 26-year-old also brings the team a consistent and powerful shot from the point, a loss of which has not been cured since Rob Blake left San Jose and retired form hockey.

The addition of Vandermeer also gives the team a veteran presence with success in the playoffs, as well as a physical presence along the boards.

San Jose's three lines on defense are extremely solid and it will give the team a whole new look and feel next season.

2. A Whole New Look to the Offense

The most obvious issue to take away from both of the Sharks' Western Conference Final defeats were that the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks were just plain quicker than San Jose.

It was an issue that GM Doug Wilson was frankly sick of, but knew that it needed to improve if the team was to have a realistic chance at making it to the Stanley Cup Finals in the coming seasons.

Enter Martin Havlat, whose trade from Minnesota has some loving him and others disliking the exchange.

The pure dislike is at the fact that the Sharks gave up a pure scorer in Dany Heatley for a veteran speedster in Havlat. Heatley's worst season point totals were Havlat's best in 2010-11.

Reports are coach Todd McLellan has a perfect strategy to change the overall skill set and repertoire of the team.

McLellan has reportedly chosen to place Havlat on the second line with Ryane Clowe and Logan Couture, while still having Patrick Marleau play with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski on the first.

The idea is that San Jose would have a speedster in Marleau on the first line and another speedster in Havlat on the second line.

The entire offensive mind of the Sharks will change this next season with that type of strategy, and improve a clear weakness of San Jose dating back to the 2010 Western Conference Finals.

3. In Reality, the San Jose Sharks Did Not Lose Much

The current issue of the offseason for the San Jose Sharks was that they acquired too little for what they gave up.

The two issues are trading the pure scorer Heatley for the veteran second-tier player Havlat, and trading young scorers in Setoguchi and Coyle for an elite, young defenseman. The impression was that they gave up too much in the Setoguchi/Burns deal for Burns to be in the last year of his contract.

The Burns issue has been cleared up, however, with the Sharks signing him on Monday to a five-year contract.

Problem solved.

But why give up Setoguchi, whose future is so bright in the NHL?

The reality of it was that the 24-year-old's future was never going to get brighter in San Jose. There were too many scorers and superstars on this team for him to shine in teal.

At mid-season, the call was for Setoguchi to be dealt at the trade deadline because of his lack of production throughout the first half.

Now that he is gone, suddenly his potential is what matters. However, as long as Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski and Couture are apart of this team, Setoguchi was never going to get his chance.

He will flourish in Minnesota, but his talent-level in San Jose was at its peak.

In return, the Sharks received an All-Star defenseman whose ceiling is so much higher than Setoguchi's.

The Heatley deal is more or less of the same. He never lived up to what others had made him up to be in San Jose, and for that, he was dealt.

He thrives where he is the only option on the ice, and he is sure to do that in Minnesota.

The fact that San Jose got the Wild to take his contract and massive cap hit next season was a win for Wilson and the Sharks, as it will help them financially stay in contention for the Stanley Cup.

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