Should the San Jose Sharks bring back former captain Owen Nolan?

owennolanbleeds.jpgBefore Patrick Marleau, Evgeni Nabokov and Joe Thornton, the player most hockey fans associated with the San Jose Shark was once-captain Owen Nolan. From a portion of the 1995-96 season through the first 60 games of the 2002-03 campaign, Nolan was the grizzly face of the franchise. His rugged play and Babe Ruth-style All-Star Game goal are enduing images of an era when the team would have been quite happy with making the playoffs, rather than a disappointment once they were booted.

He’s bounced around the league since then, playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Phoenix Coyotes, Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild during the last six years.

Even though he’s no longer the force he once was for middling but steadily improving Sharks teams, he’s still been a fairly productive player. He might not be able to hit the 25-goal mark again like he did in a surprising 08-09 season, but he’s hovered around the 16 goal mark with notable regularity in his twilight years.

So he won’t necessarily win you a Cup, but if you’re looking for a savvy veteran who can bring some goals and grit to the table, Nolan might be your guy. When you add the bonus of nostalgia – and the fact that he still skates in San Jose during the off-season and owns restaurants and a residence in the area – his old team in San Jose might actually be the perfect destination for Nolan.

San Jose Sharks blog Fear the Fin gives a few reasons why such a move would work.

First, he improves secondary scoring. Although he was in the middle of the pack among Minnesota’s forward group in terms of quality of competition according to behindthenet.ca, Nolan still chipped in 16 goals on a weak offensive team. Logan Couture will likely replace most of the scoring leaving with Manny Malhotra, but adding Nolan’s almost guaranteed 16 tallies (he’s scored 16 goals or more in each of his last five seasons) wouldn’t hurt. Nearing his 40’s, it’s unlikely that Nolan will hit the 25 goal mark he did two years ago, but playing with San Jose (a team that is better offensively by leaps and bounds), it’s not crazy to think he could net 20.

Second, Nolan brings the Sharks another player capable of playing penalty minutes. Although Wilson brought Jamal Mayers aboard to plug this hole, we’ve discussed how poor a penalty killer Mayers actually is. While Nolan hasn’t been the most defensively sound forward at points in his career, he did play 1.42 minutes per 60 on the penalty kill, top six amongst Wild forwards.

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The last main thing that Nolan brings, in my opinion, is a veteran leadership that this team lacks on the lower lines. Nolan is one of the NHL’s elder statesmen, and a trusted voice around the NHL. While he had the reputation of being somewhat of a malcontent earlier in his career, those days appear to be past him. He’d be a perfect mentor and line mate for the young McGinn and Couture, and would help to make that line a real offensive weapon for the Sharks.

The prospective addition of Nolan reminds me somewhat of the addition of Jeremy Roenick just a few years ago. Doug Wilson doesn’t have a problem bringing on older players if he feels that they can add to the team.

I have to admit that I thought the Sharks would be hit much harder by their free agent-filled summer, but it seems like it might come down to how important their goalie of the decade Evgeni Nabokov really was. If the team can land Nolan and useful positional defenseman Willie Mitchell to the mix, they’ll have a veteran-heavy squad with their eyes fixed on the Stanley Cup.

However, unlike Nolan against Dominik Hasek all those years ago, I won’t be calling that shot.

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    Video: The Ducks and Kings brawl — again

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    Oh, look at that: Another heated melee involving the Anaheim Ducks and L.A. Kings.

    You’ll recall a first-period fight fest in a pivotal Pacific Division game between these teams almost one full year ago. On Saturday, in another meeting between these California rivals, the Ducks and Kings were once again at odds.

    This latest conflict? Well, Corey Perry was involved. Again. (Last year, order had been restored during a brief scrum before Perry gave an extra shot to a Kings player, resulting in mayhem.)

    Perry was called this time around for interference on Anze Kopitar. Kings players, as you might expect, suddenly rushed over before Nate Thompson and Brayden McNabb squared off in the main event.

     

    Kings activate Jonathan Quick from IR and he is starting against the Ducks

    LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 08:  Goaltender Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings tends net during a preseason game against the Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena on October 8, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Colorado won 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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    For the first time since the season opener the Los Angeles Kings are going to have starting goaltender Jonathan Quick in their lineup on Saturday afternoon when they take on the Anaheim Ducks.

    Quick, who has played just 20 minutes of hockey this season, has been out of the lineup since Oct. 12 due to a groin injury. The team activated him from injured reserve on Saturday before the game.

    In his absence the Kings had to rely on Peter Budaj to carry the load, and he did a pretty admirable job with a .917 save percentage (the best performance of his career) in 53 appearances. Keep in mind that Quick’s save percentage the past four seasons has been .914.

    While Quick’s absence seemed like it could have been a big deal at the start of the year, the biggest factor in the Kings’ disappointing season has been on the offensive side, especially in recent weeks as the team’s goal scoring woes have seemingly hit rock bottom. In their past nine games the Kings have managed just 15 goals, and that includes one game where they scored six. Simple math says they scored only nine goals in the other eight games. Not great. They were also shutout three times during that stretch.

    Even if Quick is the Kings’ best goalie, and even if he returns to the lineup and plays extremely well down the stretch, it is not going to make much of a difference if the offense continues to score at that sort of abysmal level.

    The Kings enter Saturday’s game five points out of the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.

    Goalie nods: Murray, Neuvirth get the call at Heinz Field

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    When the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers take their long-time rivalry outside on Saturday night it will be Matt Murray and Michael Neuvirth getting the starts in goal for the teams.

    For the Penguins, Murray getting the start is no shock at this point since he has clearly taken over the No. 1 job, starting 14 of the past 17 games the Penguins have played and currently owning some of the best numbers of any goalie in the league this season. His .925 save percentage that is currently fifth best in the NHL while his .935 save percentage during even-strength situations is tied for second best.

    He has allowed just 10 goals in his past six starts.

    The Penguins’ goaltending situation is still going to be one worth watching over the next couple of days leading up to the NHL trade deadline. With Murray as the guy in net trade speculation surrounding Marc-Andre Fleury has picked up, and even though general manager Jim Rutherford said earlier this week that he would prefer to keep Fleury, he mentioned on Friday that a decision resulting his short-term future will be made in the 24-48 hours leading up to the deadline.

    Meanwhile, on the Philadelphia side, it will be Neuvirth getting another start as he tries to shake off the rust he has shown since returning to the lineup from an injury that sidelined him for a large portion of the season. Since returning he has just an .894 save percentage in eight starts, continuing what has been an overall disappointing season for him in net.

    He faced the Penguins earlier this season in a 5-4 loss, giving up two goals on 12 shots in relief of starter Steve Mason.

    Elsewhere on Saturday…

    — It will be Jonathan Bernier vs. Jonathan Quick on Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles when the Ducks and Kings face off.

    — Phillip Grubauer gets the call for the Washington Capitals when they visit the Nashville Predators and try to prevent Filip Forsberg from recording yet another hat trick. No word yet on who is starting for the Predators.

    — Joonas Korpisalo will be giving Sergei Bobrovsky the night off for the Columbus Blue Jackets when they host Thomas Greiss and the New York Islanders.

    — The Rangers will go with Antti Raanta for their rivalry showdown with the New Jersey Devils. Cory Schneider goes for the Devils.

    — Huge game in Toronto when it comes to the Atlantic Division standings with the Maple Leafs facing off against a Canadiens team they trail by only four points. It will be a Carey Price vs. Frederik Anderson goalie matchup.

    Ryan Miller, suddenly the subject of trade speculation, will start for the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday when they face the San Jose Sharks. Look for Martin Jones to go for the Sharks.

    Robin Lehner and Calvin Pickard go for the Sabres and Avalanche respectively on Saturday night in Denver.

    Antoine Vermette’s 10-game suspension upheld by Gary Bettman

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    The NHL announced on Saturday afternoon that commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld the 10-game suspension the league issued to Anaheim Ducks forward Antoine Vermette for an abuse of official incident that happened earlier this month.

    Bettman met with Vermette on Thursday and heard his appeal, and has ruled that the 10-game ban will remain in place.

    Vermette was ejected from the Ducks’ Feb. 14 game against the Minnesota Wild after he slashed linesman Shandor Alphonso in the leg following a face off. The NHL ruled that it was a Category II abuse of official foul, which carries an automatic 10-game suspension. He has already served four of those games. He will lose $97,222.22 in salary as a result of the entire suspension.

    Vermette’s suspension is the third abuse of official suspension we have seen in the NHL over the past two years following the 20-game ban Dennis Wideman received last year (later reduced to 10 games) and the three-game suspension given to Arizona Coyotes defenseman Anthony DeAngelo this season.

    After signing a two-year, $3.5 million contract with the Ducks in free agency, Vermette has eight goals and 14 assists in 58 games this season.