Monday, January 7, 2008

Brisebois for Brown

The last post argued why the Habs should swing a trade for the Sharks' seldom-used Curtis Brown.

But who among the Habs would the Sharks want in return? From our vantage point, the Sharks are most in need of a backup goaltender with NHL experience and an offensive dman, preferably right handed. Turns out the Habs are well stocked with both: Yann Danis or Jaroslav Halak for the former, or Patrice Brisebois for the latter.

The low risk route for the Sharks is to get a backup goaltender. So far this year, Nabokov has played every game. Although he has done well, one wonders how long that can last. Martin Brodeur once played 78 games, and then into the playoffs. But that's Martin Brodeur. Nabokov doesn't have an ironman reputation.

Not having a proven backup is (usually) asking for trouble, but Sharks GM Doug Wilson traded the reliable Vesa Toskala to the Leafs before this season. Part of that was to unload Mark Bell, but most Sharks fans were left scratching their heads as to who would back up Nabokov for his days off and if injury were to occur.

The Habs could afford to part with either Danis or Halak at this point. The conventional thinking was that Huet would be allowed to walk next year and Price would be the #1. Halak or Danis would back up Price, with the other as a #3 should injury befall Price. But Price hasn't played all that well, certainly not enough to supplant Huet. Habs GM wouldn't be surprised if Bob were to send Price to the minors this season, and start the paperwork for re-signing Huet. If that were to happen, both Halak and Danis would still be plying their trade for the Bulldogs next season -- not an ideal situation for either.

But for all that, Habs GM thinks that Wilson would rather have Brisebois in exchange for Brown. The Sharks need someone like Brisebois to help their woeful offense and PP. For all his defensive deficiencies, Brisebois is fairly effective at moving the puck in the transition game -- crucial in today's NHL. Those same skills make him a good PP QB option.

The Sharks play exceptionally good defense, so Brisebois' adventures in his own zone would not hurt as much. The Sharks lead the league in GAA, doing so with a remarkably young defensive corps. They are also #2 on the PK. If there is one weakness, it is that they are all lefties, except for Craig Rivet. Balance on the blueline is essential.

Perhaps this is the reason the Sharks have not had more production from their blueline. Clearly, all their dmen are defensively responsible, and Nabokov is displaying All Star form. Brisebois would help on the offensive end, when healthy and when paired with a stay-at-home dman like Kyle McLaren.

And, as noted in the last post, the Sharks just need more goals in general. A better transition game would go a long way toward achieving this. Their 23rd ranked PP could also use the help.

No trade proposal is complete without a salary cap analysis. And this is the icing on the cake: Brown, Brisebois and Danis all make $700k per year, and all will be UFA's at the end of this season. Halak makes only $500k, so other considerations may have to be thrown in to make that deal balance out.

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