When the Sharks excited the playoffs last season in the first round, after the most successful season in franchise history in which the won the President’s Trophy awarded to the team with the best record in the league, the front office vowed that the culture of the team would change. Most assumed that would mean that a big ticket item would be brought in, Dany Heatley’s name being prominent amongst those mentioned, and many thought that the team would move parts such as deposed captain Patrick Marleau. Alas, we are mere weeks from the start of training camp and there has yet to be anything remotely approximating a culture shift in San Jose despite the trade today that sent Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich to the Vancouver Canucks for Patrick White and Daniel Rahimi. I know, earth shattering eh?
“This trade speaks to the confidence we have in the young players coming up through our system who have earned the right to compete for a spot on this team,” Sharks GM Doug Wilson said. “It also creates some flexibility in our team payroll for potential future transactions as the season progresses…”
White is a 20 year old center and a former first round draft pick who is currently skating with the University of Minnesota, while Rahimi is a blue liner who has been skating in the AHL for a couple of seasons. The Sharks, as mentioned, will be saving a few bucks as Ehrhoff is scheduled to make $6.2 million the next two seasons while Lukowich is set to make just over $1.5 million in the coming campaign.
The Sharks traded for Kent Huskins at the deadline last year and he should be able to replace the loss of stay at home defensemen Lukowich, but the loss of Ehrhoff will be harder to overcome. Though he often had no idea where his howitzer was going after firing the puck, Ehrhoff did a much better job putting the biscuit on net last season and the result was his most offensive season of his five year career, and I mean that in a good way as he recorded 42 points with 25 coming with the man-advantage.
Still, this deal is as much about what it wasn’t as what it was.
The Sharks saved some money and got two parts that might one day amount to something. At the same time this move certainly weakens the club at present, that is unless they use the extra salary cap space to bring in a top-6 forward. Heatley continues to say he wants out of Ottawa, and he and Joe Thornton have had success skating with each other in international play, so perhaps this move will accomplish the goal of bringing the sniper west to Silicon Valley. However, don’t go writing this down as a done deal by any means as one of the pieces often discussed in the potential Sharks-Senators deal was the now departed Christian Ehrhoff.
The Sharks need to do something. That much is clear. And while this may be the first step leading to the “real” move the club has been planning for months, if this is it, there are going to be plenty of disappointed fans at the Tank this season. Still, I’m willing to bet that Doug Wilson has something up his sleeve. Just read the following quote which was uttered in late April after the Sharks bowed out to the Ducks.
“Changes will be made,” Wilson said. “This is pro sports and winning is the only thing that matters…This organization will win and if unpleasant decisions have to be made, they will get made.”
By Ray Flowers