Sharks Issue Qualifying Offers to Rob Davison, Six Others
Normally, the first round of the NHL Entry Draft is when NHL general managers select 18-year old prospects, hoping that one of them might one day lead their team to the Stanley Cup. But how often do teams pick up a seasoned, 10-plus year veteran blueliner on the same day?
When Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson acquired veteran defenseman Craig Rivet from the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 25, he hoped the hulking blueliner would be in San Jose for longer than the duration of the 2006-07 season.
|By signing prior to July 1, Rivet sacrificed what likely will be his one chance at unrestricted free agency, but that didn't seem to bother the North Bay, Ontario native. |
Those plans were finalized on June 22 when Wilson announced that the team and Rivet had agreed on a four-year contract that runs through 2010-11. His arrival in San Jose last February helped solidify a talented group of young blueliners, adding his years of NHL experience and now-50 games of Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Sharks mix.
Despite his short tenure here, the fans of San Jose and its surroundings sure made an impression on Rivet after spending his entire career in Montreal.
“They’ve got an outstanding bunch of guys that are very competitive at an early age,” said Rivet. “The growth of this team is something that caught my eye and it’s a team focused on winning a Stanley Cup and that’s a major reason for signing in San Jose. With the fan base and the lifestyle in San Jose, you just can’t beat it.”
Rivet made an immediate impact following the trade, scoring a goal in his first game with San Jose on March 2. And although the Sharks would lose that game to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks, the team marched to a 13-1-3 mark over the season’s remaining 17 games. Over that span, Rivet posted eight points (one goal, seven assists) and was plus-eight after notching 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 54 games with Montreal.
Heading into the playoffs, Rivet continued his strong play, adding goals in the Sharks first two games against the Nashville Predators and notching five points (two goals, three assists) in the series.
By signing on the dotted line prior to July 1, Rivet sacrificed what likely will be his one chance at unrestricted free agency, but that didn’t seem to bother the North Bay, Ontario native.
“You’re unrestricted once in your career but I feel that I’m healthy, I feel that I have lots to give and I feel I am going to fulfill the term of this contract to the best of my abilities,” said Rivet. “I wanted to be a part of this team. This team has an incredible future and I think Doug (Wilson) and the organization is very focused on bringing a Stanley Cup to San Jose and that’s obviously something that means a lot to me. Both sides definitely wanted to come to an agreement and I think both sides are extremely happy right now.”
“Some of these players here are pretty mature for their age,” Rivet said. “Vlasic, Carle and (Christian) Ehrhoff are absolutely fantastic hockey players for their age and their growth and upside is endless. I’m going to try to push them and make them better, but these guys push me too. That’s what all teammates try to do is push each other and make each other better so the team can get stronger.”
For his part, Wilson was able to retain the services of one of the few veteran defensemen who could have been on the open free agent market.
“He’s got professionalism, he’s got a competitive bite and he’s got poise,” Wilson said. “He wanted to be with us and he liked the direction we were going. Craig didn’t have to make this decision now. He could have looked around but he stepped up and we appreciate it.”
Wilson also announced recently that he had issued qualifying offers to seven Group II restricted free agents, including defenseman Rob Davison. The qualifying offers ensure that the Sharks retain the player’s exclusive negotiating rights although new contracts will need to be negotiated.