The Best Free Agent Signings of the Offseason, And Why the Sharks Should Have Signed Them, Part 2

If you missed part 1 when it was posted, you can check it out here. The Best Signings of the Offseason Part 1

In this series of articles, I will be taking an in-depth look at what I consider to be the 20 best value free agent signings of the offseason, in no particular order.
For each signing, I will first detail what makes the signing a good one from a neutral perspective, and then I will discuss why the signing would have benefitted the Sharks (at the same contract terms unless others are discussed). Enjoy!

Age. 28. Height. 5’9″. Weight. 175 lbs. Shoots. Right.
Contract. 1 year, 0.625M, Tampa Bay Lightning.
2010-2011 Stats. 79GP, 11G, 27PTS, +3 +/-, 24PIM.

Ryan Shannon is a versatile forward with good speed and vision, and above average hands. His main weakness is his lack of size, but his quickness helps to make up for that. Last season he put up 11 goals, 27 points, and a +3 +/- rating in limited ice time playing for a poor Senators team. Those would be fair numbers for a third line forward on an average team, yet at .625M Shannan is now making less than most fourth liners, which means the Tampa Bay Lightning should get good value with this signing. He also has the skill set to step into the top 6 if need be, which most third or fourth liners don’t. Shannon is also unique in that at 28 years of age, he is just getting his feet under him in the NHL. This means he still has the potential to improve his game further as he gains more NHL experience, whereas most NHL forwards his age have already found a set role in the league. In short, Shannon is a talented depth forward who should make an excellent utility guy for the Lightning.

As is the case with most good signings, their genius can be summed up pretty simply: good player plus good price equals good value. And low-risk value signings tend to prove smart investments for any team that makes them. I’m sure this would have proved true for the Sharks the same as any other team.

Maybe the best way to answer the question, “Why should my team have signed this guy?” in instances like this where the player could have been signed for near league minimum, is to say, “Well why the hell wouldn’t you sign him?” There is almost no downside to moves like this, only the potential for upside. For example, if the player plays poorly, or tries to strangle the coach, or pulls on the tail of the team captain’s dog, or starts speaking in parseltongue to Brent Burns’ snakes telling them to shave off his weird facial hair with their fangs “for the sake of everyone who has to watch at home with an HDTV”–if for any reason at all the player isn’t working out a month into the season (I’ve only listed the most common ones), you can just waive him; someone will probably pick him up at such a low salary, and if not you just leave him in the AHL for one season and eat his league-minimum salary. That’s the worst case scenario. It’s not like it is with high-priced players on long-term contracts, where if you make a mistake in signing someone to a high number, you’re stuck with him and his contract for better or worse. Deals like Ryan Shannon’s deal, or Kyle Wellwood’s deal last season, are no-risk, no-lose deals, with the potential for reward. No negatives, potential for positives. They are like slot machines that pay out say 70% of the time, and to play it you don’t have to put in any money at all. Free to play, 70% chance of winning. I don’t know about you, but I would play that slot machine as often as possible.

So if you’re the Sharks, that’s why you sign Ryan Shannon. And if he really is a parseltong, and it’s not working out because of that, if I’m Doug Wilson, I learn parseltongue myself so he has someone he can relate to and confide in, and then maybe he starts to play better, starts to feel more like part of the team. And now you’ve got something. You’ve nurtured him. You’ve learned his language. It’s not always easy, just ask Bruce Beadreau, he’s been trying out new random noises every day to Alex Semin for years now, hoping just one time, by chance, the noise he makes will be Russian for get your head of your ass. Maybe this year, Bruce. Maybe this year.
But once you’ve done it, once you’ve succeeded in that mission of getting the best out of the player, it’s rewarding, and now your no-risk signing is really turning into something that benefits your team.

That’s why you sign Ryan Shannon if you’re the Sharks, or any other team. That’s how you win the Cup.



Age. 26. Height. 6’5″. Weight. 220 lbs. Shoots. Right.
Contract/Year. 1 year, 2.875M, St. Louis Blues.
2010-2011 Stats. 73GP, 17G, 31PTS, -6 +/-, 40PIM.

At 6’5″ 220, Jason Arnott is a big and powerful forward with a very good shot, and above average hands. Speed wise he has slowed a bit the last season or two as he’s now passed his mid-30’s in age, but his speed is stil in the average range, and his good balance and strength helps make up for any speed he’s lost (or never had in the first place).

At 2.875M for a year, Arnott is making within the upper range of third line center money, for instance only 0.3M more than the Sharks paid Michal Handzus this offseason. If Arnott can recapture his form of just two season ago when he scored 19 goals and had 46 points in just 63 games, or better yet, three seasons ago, when he had 33 goals an 57 points in just 65 games, well, either of those seasons would qualify as second line center production or better. So what you would then have in that circumstance is a physical, 6’5″, 220lbs second line power forward center, for the price of a third line center. That’s the upside. However, odds are not great that he will regain that form. On the other hand, it is not too far fetched either, as he is only one season removed from second line center production (and two seasons removed from a 41 goal pace). If he can just manage to regain his 2009-2010 form, this could prove to be one of the best signings of the offseason.


For all the reasons above. Size, physicality, secondary scoring, more depth at the most important forward position. He’s a good player for a fair price. The only issue would be cap room. Can you afford both Arnott and Handzus, or Arnott and another “PK Captain” in the place of Handzus? It’s a legitimate question. However, the Sharks still have 3.2M in cap room right now, with Handzus, White, Vandermeer, and every other offseason addition already counting against the cap. That means even if you didn’t sacrifice signing Vandermeer or White to bring in Arnott, you would have still had enough cap room to bring him in. Therefore signing him to a 2.875M, one-year deal definitely could have worked, assuming he would have been interested in coming to San Jose over St. Louis. No guarantee there, and Arnott is certainly more of a high risk, high reward signing than some of the other players listed here if for no other reason than his significant cap hit. But, at least for the Blues, Arnott is a good value signing, and he could proved the same for the Sharks under the right circumstances.



Editor’s Note. Currently there seem to be some bugs within’s NHL Videocenter system, so some of these links do not work properly. All youtube links do work though.

Ryan Shannon #1 – Shannon displays his creativity in the shootout
Ryan Shannon #2
Ryan Shannon #3
Ryan Shannon #4
Ryan Shannon Highlight #5 – Shannon profile
Ryan Shannon Highlight #6
Back To Your Place In The Article

Jason Arnott Highlight #1
Jason Arnott Highlight #2
Jason Arnott Highlight #3
Jason Arnott Highlight #4
Jason Arnott Highlight #5
Back To Your Place In The Article

Hockey fans, thank you for reading! We hope you enjoyed this article. On a different note, I will be doing a Q&A blog in the near future, so we encourage you to send in your Sharks or NHL related questions either in the comments, or on twitter @SharkCircle, or via email at Every single question besides the inevitable ones asking me to screw myself will be answered in the blog, that is a promise, so please don’t hesitate to send them in!

Written By Shark Circle