Free agency time is upon us again. As I said before, this is looking to be the most interesting off season in Sharks franchise history. Below is a look at the UFA's the Sharks have to make decisions on and my take on each one.
Jeremy Roenick - JR is an interesting situation. He showed last season that he still could play at a high level but also showed his age with the time lost due to injury. JR will probably be one of the last players the Sharks make a decision on. I think it would be good to bring him back for one more year, albeit at a reduced price and role.
Mike Grier - The deadline deal for Travis Moen was the writing on the wall for Grier. Although he is still a valuable asset on the penalty kill, he is past his prime and with the addition of Moen and Torrey Mitchell healed and an entire off season to get himself ready for training camp, Grier looks to be expendable. I tend to agree.
Tom Cavanagh - Cavanagh saw limited playing time last season even with all of the man games lost to injury. That says a lot. At 27, Cavanagh should be at his prime. The Sharks may not re-sign him, but other teams might not either. What may decide whether Cavanagh is back or not is how the rest of the FA class goes. Personally, I have no opinion either way. If you want a veteran reserve who knows the system, keep him. If you can get someone else, go for it.
Ryan Vesce - Vesce is in the same boat as Cavanagh. Also 27, he should be taking the next step forward in his career. Unlike Cavanagh, I feel this is a player the Sharks should keep. I don't have any technical reasons for it, just a gut feeling about him.
Travis Moen - Moen is a player the Sharks need to be on the phone with right away on July 1st. Toughness and a great PK asset who is hitting his prime. If the Sharks are truly serious about making a run at the Cup, Moen will be a key piece.
Rob Blake - Blake's play last year showed that he still has plenty left in the tank. However, at $5 mil. last year, his price may be a little steep this year. The thing is, the Defence is not a position you want to be constantly making changes on. With Kent Huskins basically being a new acquisition for next season and Alexi Seminov likely being gone to make room for Huskins, how many more changes do you want to make on the blueline again? If the money is there, I say re-sign him. If the cash isn't there, I suppose that this change may need to take place.
Alexi Seminov - Seminov is another guy who's value was shown by his playing time. Splitting time with a significantly older Brad Lukowich and a much younger Derek Joslin showed that the Sharks are ready to move on without Seminov. Unlike other Sharks fans I have talked to, I'm not as dwon on Seminov. Yes, he made bad plays often, but he did make great plays as well. It's this inconsistency paired with younger and more talented players ready for the NHL in the Sharks system that makes Seminov expendable.
Brian Boucher - This is a key position for the Sharks. Boucher proved his value as a veteran backup last season, but the Sharks really need to give their younger prospects a chance to prove themselves. Boucher is actually the younger of the two Sharks goalies by nearly a year and a half. The time for the Sharks to look to the future between the pipes is now. I think the Sharks need to let Boucher try the free agent market and have a three way battle in training camp between Taylor Dakers, Thomas Griess, and Tyson Sexsmith for the backup to Evgeni Nabokov.
As far as free agent signings, I really don't think that the Sharks need to do more than go after a third or fourth line vet and maybe a vet to use as an extra man on defence. The thing the Sharks really need to do is start giving their talented youngsters a chance to make the next step. Guys like Jamie McGinn, Logan Couture, Derek Joslin, and Ryan Vesce need more ice time now.
Be sure to check back this weekend as I break down the NHL Draft and analyze who the Sharks should go after.