We can rebuild it...bigger...stronger...less defense

In case you haven't heard:

SJ sends Tom Preissing/prospect Josh Hennessey to Chicago for Mark Bell. Chicago packages the two off in another deal that doesn't involve California, so screw them.

My first gut reaction is that I like the deal. It gives the Thornton/Cheechoo line the left wing they really need (anything to stop Nils Ekman from going offside) and adds more size/grit up front. On the other hand, the Sharks have a glut of #3/#4 defensemen and trading away Preissing wasn't really going to hurt them. Preissing had a good year and will probably get another 40-50 points, but the upside on Christian Ehrhoff and Matt Carle is much better.

The problem is that the Sharks are grossly thin on D right now. The pairings will probably look something like this:

McLaren/Ehrhoff
Hannan/Carle
Doug Murray/Josh Gorges

Now, Doug Murray's a big dude, but he couldn't work his way back into the lineup after getting injured. Gorges is a capable #6 defensemen, but it sure would be nice to get someone with more NHL experience back there -- plus, someone who doesn't just get pushed over by big dudes.

Up front, the Sharks top two lines should put the fear of Buddha in any team (except for maybe freakin' Anaheim -- I don't think they fear any forwards with Prongomeyer back there):

Bell/Thornton/Cheechoo
Benier/Marleau/Michalek

It's conceivable that all six guys could hit 30 goals next season. In fact, I'd say I'd expect the first line to put up at least 100 goals and the second line to put up at least 90.

Where does this shove Nils Ekman? My guess at lines 3 and 4:

Ekman/Goc/Grier
Smith/Brown/Niemenen

The Sharks are definitely top heavy, but I'd hope that Curtis Brown can thrive in a role where he's not asked to do too much. Grier's a huge dude who can create some space for his two linemates while shutting down the other team and generally causing chaos. Ekman, well, he's quite the enigma, as his speed can often be neutralized by his soft play and/or general stupidity with offsides. Goc may or may not play 3rd line center -- the kid is so piss poor at faceoffs that I'd consider moving him to the wing or something. The Sharks should hire Joel Otto to teach him faceoff skills. Still, there's nowhere to go but up for Goc, and he did play really well in the first half of his rookie season, so here's hoping for him to at least settle into a 3rd line role.

The nice thing about having so much depth on the top two lines is that things can get spread out when they hit a lull. Ekman can always go back up to the top line if Bell can give the 3rd line guys a spark, or perhaps Grier and Michalek can switch up from time to time. Ron Wilson's got a lot of pieces to play around with, and that's a good thing.

My only request right now -- sign Danny Markov to shore up the blueline. Push Gorges out of the line up with Markov's grit, shot, and all-around play. As for the goalie situation, just hang on to both of them until November when some team gets desperate due to injury and overpays.

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