"Trade Targets" will be a recurring piece on Fear The Fin until the March 3rd deadline, in which Plank and TCY will explore trade possibilities for the found here.. Previous pieces of this nature can be
Since we've established the premise for these trade target articles in multiple pieces leading up to today, here's the gist-- TCY and I think San Jose could use an upgrade in the top four on the backend.
Unlike yesterday however, where we tag teamed an article on Tomas Kaberle and came to a disagreement on whether or not the price was right for him, the rest of the series is going to be a little different. He and I have picked "our guys" to profile leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline. A section at the end entitled "Contrarian's Corner" will allow the other party an opportunity to chime in with his take on the proposed deal.
The NHL roster freeze begins this Friday at 3 PM, and ends February 28th at 11:59 PM. We plan on continuing these trade target articles alongside our Olympic coverage later this month, so keep your eyes peeled.
Now on to your regularly scheduled programming.
Jan Hejda is quite possibly one of the most underrated defensive defensemen in the NHL today, a player similar to Robyn Regehr of the Calgary Flames. He faces the toughest competition night after night, sees the most defensive zone draws on the blueline, consistently outshoots the competition, and anchors the Jackets penalty kill. This comes at a price of course-- while he can move the puck out of the zone well with a strong first pass and won't have issues feeding the San Jose breakout, there is little goal scoring ability here. He will not see any time on the power play.
Along with his stellar advanced defensive metrics, he blocks shots (111 this season, good for 22nd in the league) and possesses a a physical presence that is well-suited to playoff hockey (168 hits last season, good for 19th in the league). If the Sharks are looking to add a player that can slide in and play against some of the better lines in the Western Conference, Hejda is one of the few available upgrades out there on the market today.
Think of a hybrid between Marc-Edouard Vlasic's shutdown hockey sense and Douglas Murray's physical ability. He doesn't surpass either player in each individual area, but taken as a whole, Hejda is arguably a more complete defenseman at this stage of his career, a great complement to whatever pairing he would find himself on in San Jose (with Boyle, or with Vlasic).
In essence, he is exactly what I am looking for in a defenseman.
All of this comes at the tune of $2.00 M per, with one year remaining on his contract. He is not a rental. The Blue Jackets are mired at the bottom of the Western Conference and just fired head coach Ken Hitchcock last week and are in sell mode, looking to move pieces for the future.
In essence, they are exactly what I am looking for in a trade partner.
With the acquisition of Niclas Wallin this week, Doug Wilson has made it difficult for the Sharks to be able to maneuver under the salary cap. There is no room left; salary must be exchanged equally, and most potential assets in San Jose make too little under the cap to trade away for an equal return (Setoguchi, Pavelski).
Along with that, the lack of draft selections at the upcoming NHL Draft in Los Angeles have also restricted Wilson's bargaining power. He is not able to package some of the marginal salaries together (Huskins, Mitchell) considering they have zero trade value on their own, and without draft picks or a roster player, they are essentially unmovable.
This means Kent Huskins and Ryane Clowe pop up again in trade discussions-- Huskins due to his cap hit, and Clowe due to his skill level and cap hit. But before all of the Clowe supporters (the great irony is that I am one of them to some degree) come out of the woodwork to proclaim we lose a power forward and scoring depth, try this on for size.
Yes, that absolute menace to society, Raffi Torres. 17 goals this season, a gritty winger who you hate to play against but would love to have on your team. Effective along the boards on the low cycle, tenacious on the forecheck, unafraid to go to the front of the net and park himself in front of opposing goaltenders. Very similar to Ryane Clowe in many respects. Both are middling skaters. Torres doesn't have the hands Clowe does, Clowe doesn't have the consistent net presence Torres does. Clowe is locked up for three more years with room to grow, while Torres is on the last year of his contract and will likely test the free agent market.
Which is the real beauty of it.
In one swift motion, this deal does two things-- it makes the Sharks a better team today than they were yesterday by substantially strengthening the blueline with Hedja and filling in goal production with Torres. The cap savings in the deal allows you to bring up Jamie McGinn as well, adding even more goal scoring pop to the lineup.
It also opens up room for Doug Wilson to lock up the vast amount of players hitting free agency next offseason. This is a secondary concern for me considering the time to win is now, but with the team already improving on the ice immediately, it is a definite plus.
There's no telling what a roster of this magnitude could do.
Heatley - Thornton - Marleau
Malhotra - Pavelski - Setoguchi
Torres - Nichol - McGinn
Shelley/Staubitz - Mitchell - Ortmeyer
Boyle - Murray
Hejda - Vlasic
Blake - Wallin
After a day of ironing out details with SBN's Columbus Blue Jackets representative The Cannon, head blogger Mike MacLean and I came to an agreement.
And the deal that gets it done is...
To Columbus: Ryane Clowe, Kent Huskins, Andrew Desjardins
To San Jose: Jan Hejda, Raffi Torres
Contrarian's Corner (TCY): As sexy as names like Kaberle and Kubina are, this deal takes the cake. Hejda might not put up the points offensively, but the addition of a shutdown defenseman to this squad would do wonders in solving some of the Sharks problems in their own end. Hejda does it all defensively, and the addition of Raffi "Bananaphone" Torres sweetens the pot, especially when Clowe is part of the deal. Not only will Torres replace Clowe's production on either the second or third line, but he's one of the grittiest guys in the NHL. If Scott Nichol is sandpaper, Raffi Torres is an industrial strength commercial belt sander hooked up to a nuclear generator. Plus, Raffi's UFA status opens up space to sign our own RFA's and UFA's in the offseason.
You add a shutdown defenseman, a gritty forward whose production matches that being sent away, free up cap space for a McGinn call up, shed salary for offseason moves, and limit Blake's minutes. A more perfect trade has never been uttered.