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Sharks continue to acquire blue line depth

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks
Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson continued his overhaul of the Sharks roster Friday, sending defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for center Patrick White and defenseman Daniel Rahimi (RA-hih-mee).

“We have consistently said that after our disappointing finish last season, there were going to be changes on this hockey club,” said Wilson.

White, 20, was selected by Vancouver in the first round (25th overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft and most recently completed his second season at the University of Minnesota, where he posted 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 36 games.

With the addition of Daniel Rahimi, young defensemen like Derek Joslin (above) will have to battle for spots on the Sharks' crowded defensive depth chart. (Photo by Jim McIssac/Getty Images Sport)
The six-foot-one, 190 pound native of Grand Rapids, Minnesota played 12 games with Tri-City of the USHL in 2006-07, collecting nine points (eight goals, one assist) after completing a stellar high school career at Grand Rapids High School in Minnesota.

Rahimi spent the last two seasons with the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League.  Last season, the blueliner chipped in six points (one goal, five assists) and 49 penalty minutes in 58 games.  The six-foot-three, 220-pound native of Umea, Sweden was selected by Vancouver in the third round (82nd overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
While at short glance, moving two players off of your NHL roster and replacing them with prospects might send mixed signals for a team coming off a Presidents’ Trophy-winning season.  However, Wilson said the deal had several motivating factors behind it, not the least of which is several players coming through the Sharks development system.

“As we have seen with nearly every team in the League, under a cap system, you simply can’t keep everybody and tough decisions have to be made,” said Wilson.  “We feel very fortunate because we have five top-notch NHL defensemen under contract in Dan Boyle, Rob Blake, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Doug Murray and Kent Huskins and we know several players in our system who are ready to challenge for a spot on this team.

“We also now have some flexibility in our player payroll to look at any options or players that may become available as the season progresses,” added Wilson.  “And, just as importantly, we have added two players to our reserve list that can help the organization in the future.

Wilson said the players in that mix include blueliners Mike Moore, Derek Joslin, Nick Petrecki and Jason Demers.

It’s not the first time the Sharks have faced a situation of the “numbers” game.

In 2007, Wilson parted ways with defenseman Scott Hannan, who opted for a lucrative, long-term free agent contract with the Colorado Avalanche. That season, players such as Vlasic and Murray grew into a more advanced role with the Sharks blue-line corps.

Prior to the 2005-06 season, Mike Rathje left for the Philadelphia Flyers.  In stepped Josh Gorges, in addition to Ehrhoff, who appeared in a then-career high 64 games.

That, in a nutshell, is the cycle of sports.  It’s the same formula that allowed a player like Torrey Mitchell or Joe Pavelski to get their first crack at the NHL.

Each of the players among the Sharks top defensive prospects has an entirely different story as to how they got to this point of being on the verge of their NHL career.

Moore, an undrafted free agent, signed with the Sharks in 2008 after captaining the men’s team at Princeton and leading them to their first ECAC Conference Championship in 10 years.  He was also named ECAC “Defensive Defenseman of the Year.” 

In his first full AHL season last year, Moore became one of Worcester’s top rearguards, chipping in 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) and a whopping 132 penalty minutes in 76 games.  His +15 ranked second on the team.  Moore was viewed by many as Worcester’s best player in the AHL playoffs, contributing one assist and finishing as a +7 in 12 games.

Joslin, selected by San Jose in the fifth round (149th overall) in 2005, broke a Worcester franchise record with 11 goals from the back-end, finishing with 30 points and 180 shots in only 63 games.  He was selected to the Canadian Team for the 2009 AHL All-Star Game, where he won the Hardest Shot Competition (98.6 mph).  Joslin also made his NHL debut with San Jose, playing in 12 games, picking up six penalty minutes.

Then, there is the hulking, six-foot-three, 215-pound Nick Petrecki, who was San Jose’s 2007 first round selection (28th overall).  Following two seasons with Boston College, Petrecki decided the time was right to turn pro and signed his first NHL contract with the Sharks in March 2009. 

Although he has yet to play in his first professional game, Petrecki’s dominant performance in NCAA hockey showed that he was ready for the next challenge in his career, whether that lies in Worcester or in San Jose.  He helped lead Boston College to the 2008 NCAA National Championship and was invited to the USA Hockey National Development Camp that same season.  The Schenectady, NY native posted back-to-back seasons with more than 100 penalty minutes for B.C. and showed a flair for the dramatic as well, popping in two goals, including the game-winner, in the coveted Beanpot Tournament in 2008.

Like Moore, Demers was also not drafted as an 18-year old prospect.  Invited to attend the Sharks 2007 Rookie Camp as a tryout player, the Sharks brass kept an eye on Demers when he went back to Victoriaville (QMJHL) for the 2007-08 season. 

The Dorval, Quebec native posted career numbers, leading all QMJHL defenseman in scoring with 64 points (nine goals, 55 assists) in 67 games and adding 91 penalty minutes, and the Sharks selected him in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft

Last season, his first in Worcester, Demers led the team in plus/minus (+15) and was second among all defenseman in scoring with 33 points (two goals, 31 assists) in 78 games.

“We are very impressed with where these players are in their career, based on the way their seasons ended and how they performed at our development camp this summer,” said Wilson.  They all possess the make-up we are looking for in a hockey player:  they can skate, they are tough and have great hockey sense.  Just like players in previous years, they have earned this right to compete for a job.”

Will one of these players become the next Vlasic, Pavelski or Mitchell, making it impossible to keep them off the Sharks roster?  Time will tell but that time will be coming soon as Sharks training camp opens in just over one week at Sharks Ice at San Jose.

As for the players leaving San Jose, Wilson looks back on them with fondness and thanks.

“Christian and Brad were both great members of the Sharks family on- and off-the-ice,” said Wilson.  “We thank them for their contributions to our organization and wish them all the best moving forward.”

Ehrhoff, selected by San Jose in the fourth round (106th overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, posted 132 points (25 goals, 107 assists) and 244 penalty minutes in 341 NHL games, all with San Jose.

Lukowich, acquired on July 4, 2008 along with Dan Boyle from the Tampa Bay Lightning, posted eight points (all assists) in 58 games with San Jose.

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