All-Blogs.net directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: With Marleau on block....Jackets get another chance to land 1st line center

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

With Marleau on block....Jackets get another chance to land 1st line center

Puck-rakers just reported that it does indeed look like the San Jose Sharks are putting center, long time captain and original 2nd overall 1997 draft pick on the block.

As Puck-rakers states Marleau has 2 years left on his deal at 6.3 million. The key though is that as of July 1st he has a no trade clause that kicks in so if San Jose wants to deal him, they have to do it before then.

....and as it stands, it looks as though that is exactly what they intend to do.

So where do the Jackets fit in all of this Marleau news?

Well its no secret the Jackets are desperate to get Rick Nash some legit help at center. Help he's never really had. Howson made the push for Brad Richards but ultimately lost out as they did not have goaltending asset to give up. That shouldn't be a problem this time around should Howson be interested as the Sharks are set at that position with perenial all star Evgeni Nabokov locked up for years to come.

Here is sportsnet.ca's take on Marleau:

Age
28

Assets
Is blessed with great speed and can catch defenders off guard by blazing right by them. Has natural goal-scoring ability, good size for the center position and emerging leadership issues.

Flaws
Still suffers through bouts of inconsistency from time to time. Needs to use his size even more to his advantage.

Career potential
First line center.

Stats
2007 San Jose NHL 78 19 29 48 -19 33 10.3
2006 San Jose NHL 77 32 46 78 9 33 17.8
2005 San Jose NHL 82 34 52 86 -12 26 13.1
2004 Did not play -- 0 0 0 0 0 0 --
2003 San Jose NHL 80 28 29 57 -5 24 12.7
2002 San Jose NHL 82 28 29 57 -10 33 16.3
2001 San Jose NHL 79 21 23 44 9 40 17.4
2000 San Jose NHL 81 25 27 52 7 22 17.1
1999 San Jose NHL 81 17 23 40 -9 36 10.6
1998 San Jose NHL 81 21 24 45 10 24 15.7
1997 San Jose NHL 74 13 19 32 5 14 14.4

So a 28 year old center, just now in his prime. He's got 5 of 10 seasons with 52 or more points. 2 of his last 3 he had 70 or more points. He's fast with good size who can score and set up plays. He also gets it done in the playoffs as he had 4g, 4a for 8 points in 13 games this playoff.

So with all that said why in the wide wide world of sports would San Jose want to part with this guy?

First off his production dropped from 78 to 48 points last year. He went from a +9 to a -19 in that span. There was also well publicized issues with then head coach Ron Wilson who has recently been fired.

Marleau is also the captain but has only been able to lead his cup contending team past the 3rd round once in the 2003-2004 season. With the acquisition of superstar center Joe Thornton two seasons ago Marleau has seen his stature as both team captain and franchise player diminish over the years now to the point where it looks like San Jose is ready to go in another direction.

San Jose is also a team that will not spend to the cap. They are a budget team like Columbus. They made a huge acquisition in defensemen Brian Campbell at the deadline giving up this year's 1st round pick and 2003 1st round pick Steve Bernier. Moving Marleau's salary one would think that would free up plenty of money to sign Campbell long term.

So back to Howson.
Does he make play for him? You bet your Blue Jacket behind he does. The key though is how does the organization think he'll mesh with Nash? If we do acquire him, which I think there is a really good chance, we'll know they are optimistic although nothing is guaranteed of course.

Look. Anyone center that will be on the market is going to have some flaws. If he didn't then he wouldn't be on the market. Whether it be Richards' 7.8 mil contract or Marleau's inconsistency and sometimes lack of intensity during the regular season. The point is that unless we draft it, we ain't gonna get a picture perfect guy.

Marleau certainly wouldn't be my first choice but my first choice won't be available..unless you think the Pen's would trade Sidney Crosby? He would however, be a massive upgrade down the middle of our lineup. This isn't a 35 year old Russian center on the downside of his career with 3 years at 6 mil left on his deal we are talking about there - this a 28 year old just now in his prime.

That said if we did acquire him there would certainly be some questions to be answered. How would he respond to being traded to a team/city like Columbus? How would he respond to Hitch? Would there be chemistry between he and Nash? Would he just sleepwalk through the season if he were disgruntled? Last thing we want is a 28 year old Fedorov on our hands right?

Assuming the Jackets interest the question becomes what's it gonna take to get him?

The good news for the Jackets and Howson is that the Sharks don't have a draft pick, not one, through the first 3 rounds of the draft. Draft picks are exactly what the Jackets have in spades including two hum-dingers (did I just say hum-dingers?) in the first round -- 6th and 19th overall. They also have the cap space to absorb Marleaus 6.2 million in salary over the next two years as well as expendable assets.

So what's it gonna take?

Well we know the Sharks wants picks. I've also read that they need a top 6 winger. We've got the picks and we've also got an, in my view, exendible winger.

If I'm Howson I start with the 19th pick or Nik Zherdev and work a package from there. No way I part with the 6th overall in this deep of draft to obtain a good, but not elite, talent that we could lose for nothing in 2 years.

Some potentials:

A. 19th + 3rd + 5th for Marleau

B. Zherdev + 3rd for Marleau

or

C. 19th + (take your pick of Brule/Fritsche/Tollefsen) for Marleau

I think all of those deals are good return for Marleau and address San Jose needs of unloading salary and acquiring draft picks or a top 6 winger.

If the deal goes down with the Jackets I think that 19th will absolutely have to be a part of the package going the other direction.

Trades can't be made until after the finals are over so look for Marleau to get dealt between then and June 20th which is the first day of the draft.
Of course we won't be the only interested party in obtaining Marleau's services. It will be interesting to see who also gets involved (Puck-rakers mentions Calgary but I don't see how they can afford him with what they've already got tied up and still need sign) and how aggressive Howson is willing to be.
I also don't think Marleau could be Howson's only transaction come draft day. Depending on what he gives up the Jackets could have a number of assets, including the 6th, in play to land even more help.

At this point though I think its really going to have to be, as Howson has said, a special player to move out of 6th overall. The top 6 in this draft are supposed to be that good.

Exciting times. Lets get these playoffs over with already and move into this offseason!!

Discuss - are you interested in Marleau? What would you be willing to give up for him?

-LTL

2 comments:

Pub said...

That 48 points last year makes me nervous as hell. I mean...we just got rid of a $6 mill guy with that production...but you make a good point. He is 28...not 35.

I personally would not trade Z to get him.

That was a hum-dinger of a Blog post!!

Anonymous said...

If we had to, I would move Z to get him. Obviously I would love to be able to use picks and possibly a guy like Tolly, Brule or Fritsche to get him and then use Zherdev to get a defenseman.

Marleau in the 1 hole, Malone in the 2 hole. We have Manny for the 4th line/pk spot. I would also like to get a player better than Novotny as our 3rd line center position, but filling the top two center spots would be a dream.

The fact that the sharks don't have a draft pick in the first three rounds definitely works in our favor.