The NHL’s trade deadline is just under a week away. Even after years of disappointment as I watch analyst after analyst scrounge for something, anything, hell even an AHLer for AHLer trade, to comment on you had better believe I’ll be up bright and early for this year's deadline coverage. In this article, I’ll even offer some of my opinions and speculation on the deadline. As of right now the playoff picture is about as clear as it will get, pre-deadline. There is very little in the way of a grey area for teams to hide in at this point. Your team is a seller, or they’re a buyer. Worst case scenario, there a journalistic bore and stand pat with their current roster. Whatever the case, something or preferably things are bound to happen.
In what’s been a long and fun process of previewing the deadline team by team, I will add to the list by taking a look at the curious case of the San Jose Sharks. After getting off to a hot start that rekindled the belief that their veteran core could still be contenders, they came back down to earth and are now fighting for their playoff lives. The goal scoring has all but ceased, their depth is suspect at best and Antti Niemi has been good, if not a little inconsistent. This in combination with an aging core, and several pending free agents has many wondering if GM Doug Wilson will initiate a rebuild. The short answer, no. Sort of.
What Wilson plans on doing is a little something he likes to call a “refresh”. I read into that as his not starting a deadline fire sale, but rather shipping out his expendable veterans and pending free agents to stockpile draft picks and prospects. Their best players, Dan Boyle aside, are still off limits. The rest of the team, not so much. I won’t be all that surprised if the Sharks add a few pieces at the deadline, but I think they’re going to be reticent to part with the draft picks or prospects necessary to really shake things up. If you’re wondering just which player’s might be within their grasp, or slowly leaving it, read on.
Dan Boyle: If you’re looking for any indicators as to how serious Wilson is about this whole “refresh” thing, whether or not he moves Boyle at the deadline will be as good an indication you’ll find. The Sharks have already parted with one blue liner, having sent Douglas Murray to Pittsburgh for two second round draft picks, and are rumoured to be looking to move Boyle so as to make room for Brent Burns to develop into the number one defenseman they had hoped they’d acquired two offseasons ago. The good news for the Sharks is that if they are willing to part with Boyle, they’ve set the price on defenseman pretty high. If Murray is worth two second rounders, I shudder at the thought of how much the Sharks could get for Boyle.
Michal Handzus: This well traveled veteran is about as good a shutdown center as you can find on the trading block. In the final year of a contract that carries a cap hit of only $2.5M, he would be a relatively affordable for whoever traded for him. Not sure if at this stage of his career he’s the same reliable third line center I’ve come to know and appreciate, but he could still be a somewhat reliable fill in.
Adam Burish: Burish will be a little more difficult to move than most deadline trade block type players, but then again, he does have a Stanley Cup on his resume. Burish is a pesky, physical, obnoxious and violent grinder, otherwise known as what every team wants for a long playoff run. The fact that his contract has another three years on it might scare teams away, but if not I’m sure the Sharks could get a mid to late rounder for Burish.
Ryane Clowe: It hasn’t been the best season for Ryane Clowe. He is still goalless and currently sporting a -9. Taking those stats, or in the case of the goals lack thereof, into account it’s sort of surprising that the Bruins are apparently trying hard to acquire him. The beauty of Clowe is that whether he is scoring goals or not, he is still an effective winger. He hits, he fights and he sticks up for his teammates. That, in combination with his reputation as a good depth scorer, will probably convince some GM to overpay for his services. Besides, there is little long term risk left with Clowe as he is currently playing on the final year of a contract that has a cap hit of $3.625M.
Matt Cullen: He may not be a Shark, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if he was one by the end of the deadline. The Sharks and Wild have a long history of making big trades with each other, so maybe this working relationship can work in their favor this time? Cullen would provide the Sharks exactly what they need. What makes Cullen especially attractive would be his ability to play either wing or center.
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