Just nine game ago, the masses were down on San Jose. Losers of six-straight, the Sharks didn't inspire much confidence from the media or their traditionally loyal fan-base. All hope was lost, the playoffs were slipping away and disappointment looked like it would arrive much earlier this year.
Oh, how a 8-0-1 stretch changes all that. The Sharks have once again emerged as contenders, sitting just one point behind Dallas for the all too familiar division lead which has eluded the team almost all season. How a strong stretch of games can change things.
Just seven games ago, the masses were willing to ship the young Devin Setoguchi away for any defenseman with a pulse. Forget Setoguchi being the cornerstone of a deal, at this point he's just a throw in as part of a bigger package for a one year rental past their prime. If Doug Wilson was sacrificing a bounty of meats, fruits and cheeses to the altar of Chris Phillips, Setoguchi would have been a single banana. The uber-talented prospect was much like your once valuable collection of Pokemon cards. Years ago, you wouldn't trade them for anything. Now, you're selling your whole binder at a yard sale for $3.50, packaged with a frisbee your dog bit through.
Oh, how a six game scoring streak changes all that. Setoguchi has once again emerged as a scoring threat, nearly doubling his season point total with eight points in his last six games. We at Fear the Fin never quite lost faith in the young forward, dismissing the comparisons between Setoguchi and Jonathan Cheechoo as they started to pop up with more frequency. Even last year, we defended Setoguchi and commented that a selling low was unwise. (While in the same breath knocking Ryane Clowe, who has shown himself to be one of the most valuable players on the roster. Sorry, Ryane.) That's not to say that Setoguchi's value is defined by the six game point streak, more that his play recently is justification of the praise we've given him over the years and a better indicator of things to come.
Don't just take our word for it. As we've said time and time again, Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie of TSN are the end-all be-all when it comes to trade talk, and just yesterday Dreger commented on what it would take to acquire Setoguchi.
Because of long term injury relief, cap space is no longer a problem. However, if Shero hopes to lure players like Stephen Weiss from the Florida Panthers or pry a talented young forward like Devin Setoguchi from the San Jose Sharks (as examples), he will need to present a package of assets containing either a combination of a young roster player and high ranking draft pick, or a top prospect and draft picks.
In San Jose's case, assuming Sharks GM Doug Wilson is willing to consider moving Setoguchi, a young defenceman such as 25-year-old Alex Goligoski may have to be included.
May have to be included? Goligoski alone is a far cry from what many thought Setoguchi was worth just two weeks ago. Young, talented puck-moving defensemen don't come easily, especially ones signed for multiple years at affordable contracts. If Goligoski is being talked about as part of a package to acquire Setoguchi, Setoguchi's value is higher than we could have reasonably expected at any point over the course of the last two seasons.
Even further evidence of his value was shown today when Francois Beauchemin was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner and a conditional fourth-round pick. I'm not debating the skill of Gardiner, who I'm seeing today mentioned as a very solid prospect who skates well. Lupul, however, is an oft-injured, oft-traded forward who has never reached his potential or come close to earning his cap hit. $4.25MM for each of the next two seasons is a massive contract.
Although the Sharks and Setoguchi have been linked to Toronto, and more specifically Beauchemin, for months now, the deal struck by Anaheim shows that a deal of simply Setoguchi for Beauchemin would have been a massive overpayment.
Still, it leaves many in San Jose scratching their heads. Doug Wilson won't be tipping his hand to any possible deal, but defense is an obvious need. Is he in the market pursuing a trade? You bet he is. But it's going to take a lot more than Beauchemin to get him to part with the young, affordable and talented Devin Setoguchi.
Considering what's out there, I hope that Setoguchi isn't moved for anything less than equal worth, and I know almost all agree with me. We'll have more on Alex Goligoski as the week progresses, and we'll surely be talking about all the options during Thursday night's edition of the FTF Podcast.
For now, though, our advice remains the same. Don't read into the rumors too much; as Plank pointed out this morning, absolutely no one had Beauchemin headed to Anaheim before today. Also, don't worry about Setoguchi getting moved for a rental. At this point, we doubt that happens.
Instead, what's more likely is that Setoguchi stays with the team and continues to contribute to the offense. If he is moved, we assume it will be for a player akin to Goligoski: young, talented and affordable. Until something happens, though, no one is going to know much of anything. Setoguchi is going to be bandied about just because of his talent and easy to move contract. Since Wilson didn't pull the trigger on a move for Beauchemin, we're guessing it's going to take a lot more to pry Setoguchi away from the Sharks.
There are teams looking for players of Setoguchi's caliber out there. If any become too desperate, that's when we think Wilson will strike.