San Jose Sharks Acquire Defenseman Niclas Wallin From Carolina Hurricanes

After a four day spectacle of initial rumors, speculation on who would be moved, questions surrounding the proceedings, as well as the trade being called off and then back on again, Niclas Wallin is finally a San Jose Shark.

"We wanted to add to our team without subtracting," Doug Wilson told Working The Corners. "We wanted to get the right piece at the right time to be able to integrate and assimilate him into the lineup."

San Jose receives a fifth round draft pick along with the 34 year old defenseman, in exchange for a second round draft selection at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft set to be held in Los Angeles, California. That pick, previously acquired from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Craig Rivet, was San Jose's only remaining pick in the second round. They now currently hold a first (SJS), a third (SJS), and two fifths (CAR, OTT). Depending on whether the Sharks re-sign Patrick White this offseason, they may receive a compensatory pick from the Vancouver Canucks.

Wallin will likely play on the third pairing in San Jose once the blueline is healthy, paired with Kent Huskins or Jay Leach depending on which route Todd McLellan will want to take on any given night. As we mentioned in our initial article, Wallin brings some value to the team-- he saw a lot of defensive zone draws this year for Carolina and went up against some of the tougher competition on that blueline unit. Although Jay Leach has provided a lot of bang for the buck up to this point in the season, Wallin will be a relative upgrade for a team that has struggled defensively at times throughout the year.

That being said, this is a depth move. It is not a piece that will singlehandedly push the San Jose Sharks over the mountain of May that has plagued them for the last four playoff seasons, and for that reason, I am skeptical of the decision to give up a second round draft pick for his services.

Again, Wallin provides some value. He will be a good asset to the team in terms of depth, and I liken the deal to the one Detroit made in 2008 when they acquired Brad Stuart-- it's not a game changer, but it allows you some room to maneuver once the eventual bumps and bruises make their way around the locker room.

However, a second round pick holds value across the NHL. If the Sharks were looking to make a bigger splash than Wallin, something that I expected considering the level of play provided by the blueline this season, Wilson has now just made more difficult to do so. No longer does he have the bargaining flexibility that a second round draft selection provides, and no longer does he have the cap space to work with either.

According to CapGeek's daily tracker, the Sharks are over the allowable amount (with Setoguchi's and Blake's potential bonuses discluded). According to Doug Wilson, the Sharks are under. At times like these you have to trust that Wilson hasn't made a cap calculation mistake like the one Paul Holmgreen and the Philadelphia Flyers fell into earlier this year-- he's likely got a better hold on the situation, even if the information available to the masses says otherwise. It is, after all, his full-time job.

Regardless, if you thought the Sharks were flirting with the cap ceiling before, they are now joined in holy matrimony.

The Worcester Shuttle is effectively finished for the rest of the year, with Wallin being it's sole byproduct. During the Stanley Cup playoffs there is no salary cap, but until that time Jason Demers, Jamie McGinn, Frazer McLaren etc. will not be spending any substantial time with the big club. The death of the Shuttle is both positive and negative. Concerns with the amount of travel these players were seeing are now moot; this is a positive. Jamie McGinn will not play on the third line and Frazer McLaren will not play on the fourth line; this is a negative.

Wallin will bring some lower end value to the Sharks, but in no way was he the best option out there for a team looking for an upgrade on the blueline; the second round pick was arguably an overpayment, in that you could have parlayed that along with a roster player into a defenseman on this list that would have made a much higher impact on this team. It's puzzling, and seems like a hasty rush to acquire assets, something that Wilson is not known for. This seems like a deal that should happen on March 3rd, when all available options have been pursued and Wallin is judged to be the best fit based off what the Sharks are willing to trade away.

At the end of the day, I think this deal raises more questions than it answers. The timing comes curiously close to Vlasic's injury-- is it more serious than the organization is letting on, forcing DW's hand into making a quick move to shore up the defensive unit? I think you can wait out Carolina, and have them take a third round draft pick for a 34 year old rental that eliminates your remaining cap space. Especially when they are in the process of rebuilding after a disappointing season, and especially when there are numerous players in the NHL who would provide a comparable output. Wilson's earlier quote on adding to the team without subtracting also raises some thoughts-- is this the last we will hear of Doug Wilson before March 3rd?

If history is any indication don't rule anything out.

Until then, "steady", "former Cup winner", and "depth" will be the terms used to describe this move. I think the Sharks are receiving a player who can definitely help during their playoff run, and I'm sure he works out fine on that bottom pairing. But I'll be damned if there aren't very obtainable options out there who would have made a bigger impact on this team.

 

Go Sharks.

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