Once again, the San Jose Sharks are involved in NHL trade rumors. Wednesday, February 20, CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz stated what was outlined Sunday by Examiner.com: San Jose needs a forward and can spare a defenseman. The same night, the NHL Network specifically mentioned Northern California as a potential destination for young Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O'Reilly.
The Sharks get linked in these rumors because of their prolific trading history both near the deadline (April 3 this season) and over the summer. They also have the narrow window to win a Stanley Cup that fuels trades, facing significant changes before next season and a probable rebuild after it. Their slump and lack of secondary scoring are the reasons that talk is happening so early in the 2013 NHL season.
When trade rumors start, the first place one must look is the team's own roster. San Jose has to determine players' value to the team before testing their trade value with teams willing to part with a forward. Some players are basically unavailable and others will be unwanted.
One defenseman Kurz linked to trade rumors is Dan Boyle. The Sharks currently hold the fourth-best point percentage in the Western Conference. This is a team built to win now, and moving the best defenseman who can play the most minutes scoring at his highest rate since joining the team does not fit that goal.
Trading Boyle only makes sense if the Sharks continue to falter. A young player like O'Reilly can contribute now but also be a cornerstone of the new-look team that is coming in a couple years in case it does not work. Getting Colorado to take an old player in return for a young one is another obstacle.
Despite the fact that Douglas Murray is among the team's best shot-blockers, hitters and penalty killers—three things of high value for the Sharks for different reasons—he is the player they would probably most like to trade. His age, expiring contract and current cap figure of $2.5 million makes him the perfect move to create room for an impact forward.
But those are also the reasons only teams looking to win now would want him, and most of them are not going to trade impact forwards. The only real chance for a trade involving him is a team to find that team that is a mirror image of the Sharks—looking the same (win now) but reversed assets and liabilities (blue line needs with an extra forward).
Brad Stuart, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are clearly unavailable for various reasons. Starting goalie Antti Niemi has been the Sharks best player in the young season, is just 29 years old and signed through June of 2015 for less than a top-10 contract amount. Thomas Greiss is unproven as a starter but a solid and affordable backup, making him unlikely to be sought or traded.
For a scoring line forward like O'Reilly, San Jose could possibly spare a forward of their own. A combination of talent and either team-friendly or trade-restricted contracts makes Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture untouchable. Cap Geek lists Martin Havlat and Michal Handzus as having contracts that restrict trades, diminishing their already tenuous trade value.
Most of the rest of the Sharks are not going to generate much interest except as throw-ins to balance the salary cap numbers or replace lost depth. They should not hesitate to include any of them since the reason they need a trade is they are not getting enough production from those lines. They also have reserves that can meet the current standard of play for the bottom skaters.
That realistically leaves the Sharks five movable parts to offer teams in a trade.