Saturday, September 23, 2023

Sharks Preview: Mike Grier Autograph Card

(team and product links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

This will likely be the preface to all of this year's Season Preview posts: Unlike in the distant past where I would post different texts on this collectibles blog and my personal one, I've been using a new format for the past couple of years, where I'll copy the same text on each one. As a father of two young kids, I just do not have enough time to write two separate posts per day on each blog. This year again, the entire scope of the analysis will take place first and the featured player will have a direct or perhaps indirect connection to what's written, below.

Caveats: At this point, despite training camp being set to start in a week, several players haven't found a team yet and a few clubs are currently above the salary cap, which means there is much maneuvering left to do.

Key exits: Erik Karlsson (D), James Reimer (G), Andrew Agozzino (LW), Noah Gregor (C), Evgeny Svechnikov (LW), Steven Lorentz (C), Derrick Pouliot (D), and Andreas Johnsson.

Key Arrivals: Mike Hoffman (LW), Mackenzie Blackwood (G), Andrej Sustr (D), Givani Smith (RW), Anthony Duclair (LW), Filip Zadina (LW), Mikael Granlund (LW), Kyle Burroughs (D), Ryan Carpenter (C), and Jan Rutta (D)

Top prospects: William Smith (C, 18 years old, fourth-overall pick in 2023), William Eklund (LW, 20 years old, seventh-overall pick on 2021, 43 points in 54 AHL games last year), Shakir Mukhamadullin (D, 21 years old, 20th overall pick in 2020, 25 points in 67 KHL games and 10 points in 12 AHL games last season), Thomas Bordeleau (C, 21 years old, 22 goals in the AHL in 2022-23), Tristen Robins (C, 21 years old, developpig into a capable two-way forward), Filip Bystedt (C, 19 years old, 20 points in 45 games in Sweden last season), Mattias Havelid (D, 19 years old, 5'9", 165 pounds, so he will need to bulk up playing against men in Sweden), xxx (D), and Alexander Chmelevski (C, 24 years old, 48 points in 65 KHL games last year).

There is talent coming up, but the next two seasons should be just as painful as the last one - perhaps even more so with the absence of Karlsson.

What makes their odds look good:
The odds are great they finish last in the NHL and get another high pick next summer, and at some point those will add up into a decent young roster like the Ottawa Senators or New Jersey Devils have. There are a lot of veterans in their final year of their contracts (Hoffman, Duclair) who could be shipped out at the trade deadline for more future assets and furthering the tank job

Question marks:
The defensive corps and the goalies will have all the trouble in the world giving up fewer than 3.5 to 4 goals per game, which is by design - will it demoralize the young talent?

It's the San Jose Sharks, so I cannot commit to saying their future looks bright, but there likely will be playoffs eventually, and maybe another Western Conference run in the next decade.

Eighth in the Pacific Division, last in the NHL.

I really feel bad for GM Mike Grier, whom I really respected and liked as a player, for inheriting Doug Wilson's mess, brought upon by a leadership void, hiring bad coaches and doubling down and signing Karlsson to a massive extension when his acquisition didn't even fill a team need (already having Brent Burns at the same position).

But Grier was a tough customer on the ice, and I'm sure he'll get to show his Detroit-born and Boston-raised roots as a manager when the time comes, and he will not get pushed around. What's cool is his brother is also a GM, for the NFL's Miami Dolphins, who are having a terrific start to their season.

Here is the hockey-playing Grier the way I remember him best, as a member of the Edmonton Oilers at the turn of the millennium, on the gold variant signature version of card #54 from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player set:
It shows him wearing the team's white (then-home) uniform, advancing toward the enemy's zone. He could always be counted on for 20-some goals in his prime and 10 to 15 outside of it, while providing a hard-hitting drive that didn't get called for penalties too often. He rarely made costly mistakes, which is a trait he'll be looking to bring to his new career as well.

There is a bronze medal on his mantle as a souvenir for his lone time playing on the adult mens' Team USA squad at the 2004 World Championships.

No comments:

Post a Comment