Earlier today, the San Jose Sharks re-signed potential UFA Patrick Marleau to a four-year deal worth US$6.9M per year and potential RFA Joe Pavelski to a four-year deal worth US$4M per year. Sharks’ GM Doug Wilson’s signing of Marleau makes absolutely no sense, especially since Wilson has the correct mindset to let undertalented goaltender Evgeni Nabokov become a UFA on July 1st. Unless Wilson is now going to deal Marleau to a club who could use an under-achieving, over-promoted floater, it’s a bonehead move.
Wilson finally figured out that Nabokov, and his helter-skelter style, was never going to take the Sharks to the top of the NHL heap. Why can’t Wilson see that Marleau slots right into the same category? In fact, Marleau fronts the thing.
Wilson’s strange decision is compounded by the fact that Marleau used to be the captain of the Sharks, and had that honour removed prior to last season. Marleau is a point-per-game guy – but absolutely nothing more. After a two-year, high-scoring junior career with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, Marleau was drafted second overall (Joe Thornton went first to Boston) in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. His career has never, ever lived up to any potential anyone has ever laid on him.
In 106 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Marleau has managed 45 goals and 75 points. See, when the games matter, he’s not even a point-per-game guy. The re-signing of Marleau was simply Wilson telling other NHL general managers, “He’s my guy and I’m gonna keep him – mostly so you can’t have him.” The fact that he’s not much of a guy never factors into it. NHL GMs are like a bunch of spoiled little kids with their toys.
But the Pavelski signing is the exact opposite. In Pavelski, the Sharks retain a guy who was the primary reason that San Jose reached the Western Conference Final in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Sharks faced a ton of pressure entering this year’s postseason (as the top seed in the West), and Pavelski stepped up and led the club with 9 goals and 17 points in 15 games. Pavelski wasn’t chosen until the 205th spot in 2003.
And I guess that’s the essential difference between the two players. One has had to work hard for everything he has achieved in the NHL. The other is still floating around, living on what people believe he should be. One steps up when it matters. One does it with smoke and mirrors year after year.
Watch closely how Marleau and Pavelski perform in the 2010-11 NHL season. See which one earns his cheque – and which one doesn’t. And, at this very moment, another similar player – Ottawa’s Jason Spezza – is being shopped around hard.
Guess which category old Jason fits into? That’s right…lots of potential…not much heart.