In the post-game interviews after the San Jose Sharks lost to the Chicago Blackhawks Friday, February 15, the question of whether a trade might be on the horizon was raised. Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area delved into the idea further in his recap, questioning whether they have the personnel needed to beat elite teams.
He went so far as to suggest there may be changes before they next take the ice Tuesday in St. Louis. That is their only game in a six-day stretch, ostensibly giving the team time to familiarize a new player with the system and his teammates.
The last time the Sharks lost this many games in a row was before they acquired Joe Thornton. From Nov. 5 – 30, 2005, San Jose endured a 10-game losing streak (0-7-3), and shocked the hockey world by acquiring its future captain on Dec. 1 in a trade with Boston.
Pro Hockey Talk picked up the idea and ran with it Saturday. A little examination shows that while the idea has merit, it is premature.
The Sharks have one more player on their blue line than they can get on the ice every night on the current roster. They have another proven NHL defenseman in the minors, meaning they could still absorb an injury if one were traded.
They also have several capable reserve forwards and a couple prospects at every position, which qualifies as abundance at goalie. That gives the team movable parts beyond draft picks to offer.
With six forwards still lacking even one goal and a total of three goals scored while either checking line is on the ice, there is little doubt San Jose needs secondary scoring. In a 48-game, compressed schedule, there is not as much practice time to work new players in nor can there be as much patience to let teams play their way through struggles.
So why is the talk premature? There are no good trading partners out there.
Only the Columbus Blue Jackets are more than three games out of the playoffs, and the Washington Capitals are the only other team more than two games out. There is not one scoring forward likely to be available on either roster, whether because they are young enough to be coveted by that team or because they are playing too well.
Even if other teams are added to the mix, one must take into account the salary caps for both. For teams near the limit like the Sharks, adding a player under contract beyond this season only heightens the problem of re-signing their own free agents this summer. Signing one not under contract probably indicates a rental for which less will be offered.
There are other considerations, as well. The new team either has to need blue line help, be willing to give up their known asset for a prospect or draft pick or some combination thereof. San Jose general manager Doug Wilson also has to consider the potential that a major injury could make that extra defenseman or even prospect important to the team this season.
Given where the Sharks stand a third of the way into the season, it seems a trade is necessary to make this team more than a pretender. However, making a move now is almost as likely to make the team worse as better.