FREE AGENT PREVIEW: RE-EVALUATING PATRICK MARLEAU

Almost a month ago, I posted my considerations for the potential free agent signing of Patrick Marleau to the Kings.  You can find that article here.

I had previous arrived at the conclusion that “While I would love to see (Marleau’s) speed and shot on the Kings, I do not believe he is the missing piece for which Dean Lombardi has been preciously saving his cap space.”

Since then, Marleau’s hockey season has stormed through to the conference finals and as of last night, petered out completely. Marleau may have just played his last game as a Shark, and a highly disappointing one at that. The question is not so much whether the Sharks will want to keep Marleau, but rather, whether Marleau wants to stay. The Sharks likely can not afford to hold on to both Marleau and goalie Evgeni Nabakov, and will have to make a choice. Now, if given the choice, would you keep a goalie who has never won you anything and in the same year has completely crumbled under the pressure of an Olympic game and been bested by a formerly unknown goaltender in Anti Niemi, or do you keep the forward, your former captain, who just cracked the 40 goal mark for the first time in his career and was the only Sharks’ player capable of consistent scoring in the most important 4 games of the teams’ season?

I would keep Marleau. But if I were Marleau, I wouldn’t keep the Sharks.

Not all agree, however. Today, The Fourth Period reported that Marleau hopes to stay in San Jose. They quote Patrick (through the Mercury News) as saying “There’s lots of time to think about that… We love San Jose. We’ll see how every thing works out.”

Perhaps TFP sees those words as earnest intentions not to test free agency, but “There’s lots of time to think” means more to me than “We love San Jose.” That sounds like Marleau is thinking ‘I like this city, but this team may be better off in my rear view mirror’ (just to be perfectly clear, that is a hypothetical quote/thought, Marleau didn’t say that).

So, let us re-evaluate the impact adding Marleau this summer could have on the Kings. In the aforementioned article, I accused Marleau of not picking up his game enough in the post season. Since that time Marleau has dispelled any such notion.

In 14 games, Marleau put up 8 goals and 5 assists for 13 points. 5 of those goals came in the conference finals, as he single-handedly provided the Sharks with their only shade of offense. Marleau scored 5, while the team as a whole scored 7 against the Blackhawks.

That says a lot of bad, bad things about the Sharks, but is a monumental praise for Marleau. Marleau played this post-season with fire and tenacity. Using his speed at every turn to break loose of defenders. Using his smarts to find soft spots in the opposing defense’s coverage. Unleashing his shot regularly to the dismay of unprepared goalies.

So, does Marleau’s near-dominant performance against the Blackhawks warrant him more consideration as the Kings’ ‘missing piece’.

I believe that yes, it does.

I still maintain that Kovalchuk is the man to go after, considering that he is younger than Patrick, more deadly and I think will not have as much of a higher cap hit compared to Marleau as common logic has led fans to believe. Marleau could very easily cost over 7 million per season. However, providing Kovalchuk does not fit in terms of dollars and cents, I am officially opening my arms to the thought of Marleau with a crown on his chest. He has earned it, and had the Kings possessed such a scorer in this year’s playoffs, perhaps Chicago isn’t celebrating their trip to the Cup finals today.



Categories: L.A. Kings News

Tags: ,

6 replies

  1. Will be interesting to see how this works out. I hope DL signs one of these guys, either could contribute to the Kings.

    Just watched the Flyers beat Montreal. Cammileri was not the Messiah as some thought he was…

  2. I don’t like Marleau as a King. He will cost too much. Furthermore, can he be expected to provide the same production with linemates other than Thornton and Heatley? The Sharks are getting more for their salary cap dollar with Marleau now than the Kings ever will with him.

    Kovalchuck is a different story since he is the type of player who can transcend regardless of his teammates. I’m not convinced Marleau is that guy. If Kovalchuck becomes unavailable, Plan B should be to explore trade opportunities for a forward instead.

    • You make good points, particularly about Marleau being the catalyst of offense instead of simply the benefactor of others. I thought the same until watching this last series. With Thornton being good but not great and Heatley going totally invisible, Marleau created his own offense regularly. Ultimately the Kings need someone who is fast and has a deadly shot, since our players cover most other categories of offensive play. Marleau has both.

      The price is my biggest concern. Kovalchuk is absolutely far and away the #1 priority however. Many prefer Marleau because he can play center, but I don’t recall seeing Marleau play center for the last 3 years. He’s almost always been on Thornton’s wing.

      Trade is an interesting scenario, but if it comes at the expense of roster players or depth, I’m not sure I like the trade route. Picks and prospects are up for grabs in my book, well, most of them. But start taking away from the roster without some free agent additions or surprises in training camp by youngsters filling holes they aren’t expected to fill yet, and you have not strengthened your team.

      I guess I used to be outright against signing Marleau, even if we lost out on Kovalchuk, but now I’m OK with his as plan B and trade as plan C.

      • This just seems like a NY Ranger signing to me. That team never seems to learn and quite frequently cripples their payroll with these types of signings. Remember, that Marleau’s current salary is $6.3 million. He’s definitely going to want a raise in order to leave San Jose. Some players like Kovalchuck are worth that type of headache, even with guys like Simmonds, Doughty, Johnson, and Handzus who are due to get big raises next offseason.

        It’s not outlandish to think Marleau can provide close to the same stats given his production this season and post-season. But he’d better be that missing piece to us winning a cup, because we won’t have the payroll flexibility to bring anyone else significant in.

        Although I admit I could be wrong. You never know what kind of synergy he would bring to the Kings. I could see Kopitar benefiting from playing next to someone that fast and able to put the puck in the net.

        • I think it’s worth noting (and maybe it already has been) Marleu’s relationship with Lombardi. These things have a funny way of working out when 2 people like and respect each other. I’d say it’s much more likely we see him in a Kings uni than in a Rangers one (or anyone else other than the Sharks). That said, if I was the GM for the Sharks I’d do all I could to keep the MVP of my teams’ playoffs.

          The other thing too is that most fans (including me) vastly underestimated the advancement of our young players last season. No one could have predicted Doughty’s absolute decimation of the so-called sophomore slump. And Richardson’s out-of-nowhere ascent to super consistency.

          So even if we stand pat (which we won’t) but even if we did, I think this team will be better than last year (unlike the Sharks who see the end coming) which is why I think they will be more desperate to resign Marleau.

          …but then again, there’s that DL-Patrick connection…

          Can’t wait!

          • Excluding his salary, just on a players standpoint, I like Marleau as well, because he can play both center or left wing, both areas of need. Interchangeable part is always a plus. I don’t know about that salary though….

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,042 other followers

%d bloggers like this: