WILL UFA EVGENI NABOKOV RETURN TO SAN JOSE? - PHOTO JON SWENSON
A few San Jose Sharks hockey notes:
- The Sharks announced an official press conference Friday at 11AM where captain Rob Blake will discuss his future, and whether he will or will not retire. Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area reported last week that his retirement would soon be official.
- Sharkspage reported earlier that AHL Eddie Shore Award winning defenseman Danny Groulx had left the Worcester Sharks to sign with the KHL Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod franchise. Source was two interviews I did with a Russian website and a Russian newspaper. Word from Sharkspage’s Darryl Hunt in Worcester is that Groulx is in negotiations with the KHL, but he has not signed yet.
- SJ Mercury News beat writer David Pollak offered a correction with regards to the salary of 6-foot-5 Swedish goaltending prospect Henrik Karlsson, listing his 2009-10 salary as $800,000 instead of $1.3 million. “Latest I’m hearing now is that the Sharks are still not sure where Karlsson fits in their plans, understandable since there’s still that matter of how Evgeni Nabokov fits in their plans to be dealt with,” Pollak added.
The capgeek.com figure lists Karlsson’s salary as $1.325M. Checked with capgeek’s Matthew Wuest who listed $810,000 base salary, $90,000 signing bonus and an additional $425,000 in performance bonuses as the numbers he was working with.
- A report from the Swedish newspaper Aftobladet says that Henrik Karlsson signed with the KHL, hat tip to FeartheFin for the link. As evidenced in the KHL item above, keep an eye out for official confirmation.
- To throw a rumor out into the ether, sources inside the Sharks organization and outside of San Jose proper, all have said independently of one another that the Sharks are leaning heavily towards bringing goaltender Evgeni Nabokov back. Sharks President/CEO Greg Jamison said Thursday on Chronicle Live that the team was still in the planning and evaluation phase, conducting individual meetings with players and coaches to chart a course for the future.
It also should be noted what Greg Jamison said about Nabokov on KNBR in April, “Evgeni Nabokov, if he is not the best goaltender in the league, he is in the top three. We have great faith in him. He has played well, he has fought. He takes some criticism, for a game or two, but he always comes back.” More from Jamison on Nabokov and Marleau at the link. One question not asked in recent interviews, did 8 home playoff dates push the Sharks into the black financially this year?
- Spoke with Patrick Marleau’s agent Don Baizley who declined to offer an update on the Sharks forward. Marleau is under contract with San Jose until the start of free agency July 1st. For those counting, the time frame between the locker room cleanout interviews on May 25th and the start of free agency is 36 days.
Marleau declined to speculate on the possibility he could be on the market July 1st. “(Free agency) is something new for me, we will have talks. As far as anything else, I really don’t know yet,” he said at the time.
- The voice of Sharks radio Dan Rusanowsky on a recent interview with KNBR regarding the future of free agents Patrick Marleau and Evgeni Nabokov, “It is reasonable to say one might not be back, a distinct possibility both might not be back.”
- Excellent analysis of potential contract negotiations for restricted free agent Joe Pavelski at FearTheFin.com. After examining NHL comparables with Ryan Kesler, Loui Eriksson, Brad Boyes, Mikko Koivu and Derek Roy, and comparing Pavelski’s situation to past contracts Doug Wilson offered to Clowe, Michalek and Cheechoo, FTF comes to a perfectly reasonable $4.2-$4.5MM, 5-year contract range. Perfectly reasonable, unless the Sharks are interested in locking down Marleau and Nabokov, and a significant chunk of the remaining UFA and RFA roster players.
- “2000 PIMs, that tells you he wasn’t a pacifist,” ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas said of Laredo Bucks President/CEO Terry Ruskowski, seated ringside. In other fight/hockey news, UFC announcer Mike Goldberg mentioned on air that Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle were in attendance at UFC 114 Rampage vs. Evans in Las Vegas.
- There has been a burgeoning movement among analytical hockey blogs to track individual scoring chances in games. Derek Zona of the excellent Copper and Blue blog, tracked the head-to-head individual scoring chances for the Sharks-Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals. It is a fascinating look at how individual matchups progressed during the series. Some of the story lines did not hold up (Bolland vs Thornton), some of them did (Malhotra).
- The farther a team heads in the postseason, the more intense the media scrutiny becomes. Pavelski garned a bulk of the coverage with his otherworldly performance in the first two rounds, but former goaltender and Versus television analyst/SI writer Darren Eliot had some interesting thoughts regarding Evgeni Nabokov. Some quotes from an Eliot interview on Canadian radio:
“If I compared (Nabokov) to Niemi, who has been better in this series first two games. The goals you score on Niemi, the way he plays, the way Michael Leighton plays, you can anticipate the kind of goals he is going to give up, they look the same.”
“The way Evgeni Nabokov plays, you are never sure what kind of goal is going to beat him. He doesn’t play by today’s standards, that real basic, let the puck hit you style… He is a little bit of a throw back, so there are some inconsistencies in his approach to each shot, all of a sudden one sneaks in. From that stand point, he is a little bit unsettling to me when I watch him. He can be great, but you can be one puck away from something very unusual happening, it happens quite often with him.”
Darren Eliot is a very respected analyst, with a depth and breadth of knowledge regarding NHL goaltending. His comments were a gauge of the prevailing sentiment nationally regarding Nabokov in the postseason. A couple of problems, one Nabokov definitely has a specific style and trends that evolve throughout the season. A very aggressive goaltender when he is on the top of his game, he is also intelligent and somewhat combative. He not only has had fairly standard weaknesses over time, but you can see him addressing them over a 10-20 game portion of the season. A problem that may have existed in October, is dealt with rather routinely in March or April. It was another former goaltender and Versus analyst, Daryl “Razor” Reaugh, who said in the Detroit series that Nabokov appeared to have problems picking the puck out of traffic. It was also an issue against Chicago.
The argument that Nabokov’s at times unpredictable style could hinder the Sharks postseason performance is usually made in conjunction with the recommendation to acquire a traditional butterfly goaltender. One who covers a large portion of the net down low, stops the first shot, and offers a steady and similar performance game in and game out. In the same interview, Eliot pointed to the Finnish goaltending development system, and said that goaltending styles are obsolete. “There might be nuances between what Allaire teaches… what Melanson tought in Montreal. There might be differences, but at the root of it all it is all about playing percentages, make yourself big, good lateral movement, leg recovery…” He said there is a movement to develop more of a “system not a style” regarding goaltenders.
A lot of thoughts to consider, but the San Jose Sharks staff has far more information to make a decision on than national pundits who do not get to see this team play on a regular basis.
- Have to mention a very awkward post-season interview Comcast analyst and former Mercury News reporter Ann Killion gave on Chronicle Live. Killion was a guest along with San Jose Sharks radio analyst Dan Rusanowsky and host Greg Papa.
It was awkward all the way around, first Papa criticized Rusanowsky for not giving a yes or no answer to whether Marleau or Nabokov would be back in San Jose. “Never ask a play by play guy a yes or no answer, because they are never going to answer that.” Then Killion made a statement that Marleau was already probably gone, and people in the organization were very unhappy with him in the first round.
“It is payday. I think he is gone. I don’t think there will be a lot of tears. He did end up playing great in the Western Conference Finals. In the first round, there were people within the organization that were rolling there eyes and saying some very bad things about him. They were really tired of the Patrick Marleau we have seen before. I would not be surprised if he left,” Killion said on the panel.
Hard for me to criticize “sources in the organization” when I made the same reference earlier in this post, but mine was bookended with quotes and links readers can examine themselves. Killion also struggled to name any goaltender in the Sharks organization that could step up in the event Nabokov moves on, or any affordable goaltender outside the organization that could step in and log minutes.
Rusanowsky, ever the voice of reason, offered his thoughts on Marleau and Nabokov. “Both of these guys are totally unrestricted for the first time in their careers. They both want to see what that’s like. They want to see who is going to offer them money. They want to see how they are being valued by other organization. Of course with that comes a bit of a premium to gain their services. Whether it is a team back east, say Washington, that might be interested in Nabokov. Or whether it is the Montreal Canadiens, or the Los Angeles Kings want to offer Patrick Marleau a big contract. All of that is going to come down to how the market plays out,” Rusanowsky said.
Comcast Sportsnet California, Chronicle Live and Sportsnet Central have significantly increased the amount of MSM coverage of the team, but occasionally there are weak spots. Usually it comes when one-size-fits-all general pundits try to make noise about sports they do not follow. The Sports Business Journal recently reported that Comcast and SB Nation came to a content sharing agreement. Comcast content may be featured more prominently on SBN blogs, and in select markets SBN bloggers may be featured on Comcast channels. Let’s hope that is the case on CSNCA or CSNBA as well.
[Update] ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun breaks down the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings interest in the race to sign Patrick Marleau and Ilya Kovalchuk. Could one team sign both?
[Update2] Seto Supports Silicon Valley Duck Race, Sharks Forward Will Serve as Honorary Committee Member – SJsharks.com.
“I am happy to be part of such a good cause,” said Setoguchi. “The Silicon Valley Duck Race raises funds for more than 15 local charities that need the support. As most Sharks fans can imagine, I love rubber ducks, but dislike Anaheim Ducks! I encourage everyone to support this cause.”
Lol, it is a start. Thanks to EM for sending this in.
[Update3] With regards to the Nabokov rumor, the only comments that matter are those that are going to come from Sharks President/CEO Greg Jamison, Sharks EVP/GM Doug Wilson, Evgeni Nabokov himself and his agent Don Meehan. A number of reports have been speaking about Nabokov in the past tense with regards to San Jose, which is directly opposite of what I have been hearing from multiple parties. In addition to an examination of available free agents, promotion from within the organization and salary cap considerations are two other contributing factors.