Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Random Pacific Questions: Who's the Sharks' Best Defenseman?

A vicious slapfight occurred right after this picture was taken.

The Sharks were the 3rd best defensive team in the NHL last season, allowing only 187 goals. A big part of this was their underrated defensive core that limited opposing offenses to about 24 shots on goal a game. The Sharks didn't get a whole lot of offensive output from their defense, however, so they brought in two veterans to help with that side of the puck. Dan Boyle and Rob Blake both have a rich pedigree in the NHL and will undoubtedly help the Sharks put the puck in the net, but will they deserve top minutes for the Sharks? Who is the Sharks' best defenseman?

My personal opinion is that it's Marc-Edouard Vlasic (he of the newly minted 4 year, $12.4 million dollar deal). He's only 21 but he was named the most valuable defensive defenseman by Alan Ryder after finishing 3rd the year before.* Sure, he doesn't score very often, but he literally suffocates opposing offenses. It'll be interesting to see how new coach Todd McClellan integrates new additions Dan Boyle (who missed half the season last year) and Rob Blake (who is probably best served playing mostly special teams at this point in his career). Will they play the most minutes because they're highly paid and "have been there before," or will he (rightfully, in my opinion) stick with Vlasic and fellow youngster Christian Ehrhoff in crucial situations?

*Page 24, if you're interested.


Earl Sleek said...

Oh, offense from the blueline.

I thought that Doug Wilson got Blake and Boyle so that opponents could get more shots through to Nabby so he could win a Vezina Trophy.

I'm still not sure what to make of that blueline. I still need to be convinced that Blake isn't just a downgrade on Rivet while Boyle isn't just a downgrade on Campbell. But yeah, that Vlasic is a player.

Kelpfreak said...

Vlasic is certainly the safe answer. Every year Ehrhoff costs me a few rounds at the bar as every year I think he's finally going to turn the corner. I still think he has the best skill set and the best upside of the young guys (watching him carry the puck up the ice still gives me the shivers...and he doesn't even have to resort to the spin-a-rama). We'll see what the new coaching staff can do with him.

Insert the groaning and hissing from my fellow Sharks fans here, I guess

Anonymous said...

Joe Thornton...Oh the Defense line.

Ian said...

Ehrhoff is one of those guys that will probably have to win a Norris before the fans will forget his mistakes, despite the fact that he's a pretty good defenseman now. He's not quite daring enough to be loved like Sandis Ozolinsh was for his gambles, and not quite physical enough to make impressive hits. His breakout game hasn't been great despite having good skill and speed, but that's been a team-wide weakness. Boyle should continue the progress we saw with Campbell, and I really hope McLellan improves this area.

Detroit has always been impressive in their breakout, and they rely on quick, position-based passes that require coordination between the D and the forwards. I don't see why the Sharks couldn't do the same, with the skill that they have now.

Jesse said...

Don't forget Douglas "Don't call me Dog" Murray. He of the plus 20. Incidentally, he also ranks 2nd to Pickles in defensive-defensman nicknames: Crankshaft. Tough, impossible to knock off his skates and suddenly has learned how not to get burned.