Rather than submit a comment lost to the sea of responses tied to the Murray trade post, I decided to submit some thoughts on what this trade could mean with less than ten days until the trade deadline, April 3.
Are the Sharks Sellers?
The initial reaction to this trade, at least from some, has been that the Sharks are sellers. The Sharks have struggled most of this season. Aside from their strongest start in franchise history, the Sharks have had little go to plan. They currently sit on the outside looking in on the playoff picture. This naturally makes one feel that Doug Wilson is thinking sell.
Doug Wilson did a great job of convincing Ray Shero of Murray's value. The trade made perfect sense for the Sharks. Murray has no future with the franchise moving past this season. There is simply too much young talent at defense, and the Sharks should not be hindering the development of their young players to dress Murray. Although it is uncertain what Pittsburgh will want to do with Murray after this season, a second round pick, at minimum, is still a great deal for the Sharks.
As The Neutral mentioned, the move shows willingness by Doug Wilson to move expiring contracts. It so happens that these expiring contracts are also ones that are likely to not be renewed for the next year. It would behoove the Sharks to trade Ryane Clowe and Michal Handzus (although Handzus has a NMC which may prove moving him impossible); it is better to get something for them rather than letting them walk for nothing. The Sharks deciding to set a lineup featuring neither player suggests that they may be looking to see how the team plays without them. This may be a sign that both players, or at least one of them, could be gone before the end of the season.
Are the Sharks buyers?
If this trade is setting the bar for what players are worth this deadline, I highly doubt the Sharks will be buyers. It would be detrimental to the franchise to become buyers if someone of Murray's caliber demands so much. The Sharks simply do not have the assets to expend at the deadline. However, the Sharks might be buyers if the price is lowered at the deadline.
This move did two things for the Sharks in the means of becoming buyers: 1) The Sharks have increased cap space, and 2) The Sharks gained a draft pick. Murray's cap hit was $2.5M; the Sharks now have $13,335,370 of cap space at the deadline. This gives them even more breathing room if they should...say...acquire Iginla and Antropov ($7M and $4M cap hits). The trade also gives the Sharks an additional pick to trade away to acquire another player.
The assets gained by the trade do not necessarily indicate that the Sharks will keep them. Last year, the Tampa Bay Lightning turned Steve Downie into a first round pick by trading for Kyle Quincey from Colorado and then moving him to Detroit for a first round pick. While this was another franchise and a slightly different situation, it still stands as proof that stranger things can happen.
As the Deadline Approaches...
The Sharks are better today than they were yesterday. The Sharks moved a diminished asset, which was arguably more of a liability, to acquire greater assets. While it remains to be seen what Doug Wilson's plan is, fans can rest assured that management has the willingness to make a move.