With the trade deadline three short weeks away, there are still a lot of questions when it comes to San Jose Sharks’ plans: What area most needs help, what assets are tradeable, and is the face of the franchise really on the trade block?
Recent roster moves have given the team enough cap space to work with. According to General Fanager, the Sharks have roughly $3.7 million in cap space today, which would project to over $5.6 million on deadline day. That’s enough for a big move, or even a couple smaller moves.
The biggest need the Sharks have, and the one they are most likely to address at the trade deadline is on the blue line. The top four has been quite good. Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun are a top-quality shutdown pair, and Paul Martin has helped Brent Burns emerge as a Norris Trophy candidate. It’s after that when things get a bit murky. The third pairing of Brenden Dillon and Dylan Demelo has developed as solid, but not spectacular, and doesn’t contribute offensively.
The biggest concern, though, is what happens when someone gets hurt. Vlasic, Braun, and Martin have missed a few games, and the team is 1-6-1 with any of them out of the lineup. Ideally, the team would probably like to acquire a veteran defenseman who could fill in with the top four if necessary, but slot in with Dillon on the third pairing otherwise.
Rumored names on the trade block John-Michael Liles, Roman Polak, Kris Russell, and Dan Hamhuis could be options. If the Sharks had the assets for Hamhuis, his experience playing with Brent Burns in head coach Peter DeBoer’s system at the world championships last summer would make him the best fit. But that’s if they have the assets to acquire a quality defenseman from a divisional rival.
Top 9 Forward
Though it may be more of a luxury than a need at this point, one more top nine forward could put the team over the top. Right now, the team has split Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Logan Couture among three lines. While the other lines have excelled, Marleau’s has struggled a bit. Finding a winger who fits with Marleau and Joel Ward better than Matt Nieto could be what they need. Alternatively, Tomas Hertl could be shifted back to that line and open up a spot on the wing with Thornton.
Radim Vrbata, Brad Boyes, and Kris Versteeg are names on the block who would fit the role well. Doug Wilson often keeps tabs on guys for years, and Vrbata has been on his radar in the past. Brad Boyes’ right-handed shot could be a good match for Thornton’s wing.
On top of fitting the role, Kris Versteeg looks exactly like Joe Pavelski. That’s too much fun to not want to see on ice.
If starting goaltender Martin Jones went down with an injury, or even just hit a rough patch, the Sharks are going nowhere in the postseason. That’s a lot riding on a first-year starter. Back-up netminder Alex Stalock currently has a save percentage under 0.900, and wasn’t really any better last season either. It may be time to move on.
Luckily for the Sharks, this may be a move they can address through waivers, or with very minor compensation. A back-up goaltender doesn’t have to be spectacular, just serviceable. If the teams would part with them, perhaps Anton Khudobin or Michael Hutchinson could be options.
In the past, Doug Wilson has talked about draft picks being the currency to make deals work. That leaves the Sharks pretty broke at the moment. Prior trades have already used up some of that currency for this year’s draft. San Jose still has a second round pick, but it’s doubtful Wilson would trade his only pick in the first three rounds.
This doesn’t mean the Sharks are dead in the water, they just have to get a little more creative. Where the team is lacking in draft picks, they do have an excess of young players in juniors and college who have look to be legitimate prospects. Rourke Chartier played for Team Canada at World Juniors. Dylan Sadowy, Kevin Labanc and Adam Helewka have also likely improved their stock with strong goal-scoring years. Depending on the return, perhaps even young players who have seen professional time like Matt Nieto, Mirco Mueller, or Julius Bergman could be floated.
The juiciest deadline rumor surrounding the Sharks has been Patrick Marleau reportedly asking to explore his options. This has made the rounds since the beginning of the year, with the most detailed report coming from Kevin Kurz that Marleau would accept a trade to the Kings, Ducks, or Rangers. While Patrick Marleau hasn’t openly denied the rumors, his wife certainly seemed to earlier in the season. But the rumors persist.
Unless something major has changed, it seems like an odd time for Marleau, his San Jose native wife and his four young sons to move away from their home. And personally, after nearly a decade of Marleau trade rumors – including ESPN reporting in 2009 that he was traded for Dany Heatley – I’ll remain skeptical until I see him wearing a non-teal jersey with my own eyes.