Given the unique circumstances of this shortened season, insiders (and not the kind with extraneous consonants in their titles) claimed that trade deadline prices would be higher than ever this year. They were right.
Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray, undoubtedly the team's worst blueliner this year and last, has been traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for not one but two second round draft picks. From the horse's mouth:
PIT's acquisition price on Douglas Murray is two second-round picks.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 25, 2013
Not only is this addition by subtraction for the Sharks, as the coaching staff no longer has the option of deploying the horrendous Murray/Brad Stuart pairing, it's good old addition by addition. Pittsburgh appears to only have one second rounder in 2013 so it's unclear when the other selection will come but that's tremendous value for a 7th defenseman and pending free agent.
It shouldn't be forgotten that Murray gave this team several years of great hockey. As much as he's currently a shell of his former self and has been since the start of the 2011-12 campaign, it was only two years ago that he and Dan Boyle formed an effective shutdown pairing for Todd McLellan. After struggling early in his career by chasing big hits rather than playing defense, he made massive improvements positionally. Of course, he was always an extremely limited player who struggled to move the puck forward. Pairing him with a defenseman who possesses similar flaws in Stuart wasn't doing the big guy any favors and the other areas of his game have steadily deteriorated over the past two seasons. Dan Bylsma will probably have the sense to pair him with someone who can mitigate, rather than exacerbate, his limitations so, in that sense, maybe this deal does make a modicum of sense for Pittsburgh. Who am I kidding, of course it doesn't.
Hopefully, this deal signals a willingness by management to trade players who aren't nailed down and have no actual impact on the Sharks' playoff chances. Ryane Clowe and Michal Handzus are two obvious names (although with the number of shootouts this team has been in, perhaps Handzus has a bigger impact on their playoff hopes than we suspect). If an over-the-hill Murray nets this much of a return, it's incredible to consider what Clowe might fetch in a trade market that seemingly values size and toughness over, you know, actual hockey-playing ability. No matter how you slice it, this is a big win for Doug Wilson.
Update: The picks are the Penguins' 2013 second-rounder and their 2014 second-rounder, conditional on Murray re-signing with Pittsburgh this summer.