I've come to the realization that speculating about what GM Doug WIlson is thinking is futile at best. Plank and I have come off looking pretty foolish at times throughout this off season, simply because he's gone against many of the things he's said over the last few months.
For example, he said he was happy with the tandem of Antero Nitttymaki and Thomas Greiss in net, but went out to sign Antti Niemi. Although we're not against the move on a talent basis, it doesn't solve a team need.
That team need is defense, as is painfully obvious for all who follow the Sharks (including Drew Remenda and Randy Hahn). We've hammered that point home for the better part of two seasons, even though it's caused us to literally lose sleep in the process. We've come up with trade proposals and suggested free agent signings. It's been a frustrating effort that hasn't paid off in the slightest.
Now, with just a few short weeks left until the Sharks open up the season in Stockholm, Sweden, the need for a defensemen is as apparent as it's even been. As it stands, Niklas Wallin finds himself playing top four minutes. Douglas Murray (although he's improved every season) still finds himself playing around 20 minutes a game. And although the Sharks lost future Hall of Famer Rob Blake to retirement, they haven't really replaced him yet. Wilson made it clear that he was looking to add a defensemen between now and the deadline, but he seems to have backed off those statements in a recent interview.
We have got two veteran guys who have won Stanley Cups. They often don't get the respect they deserve. Kent Huskins and Nick Wallin have both won Stanley Cups for a reason. Both have had to bounce back from injuries, Kent two years ago. Nick Wallin unfortunately got hurt in the last regular season game of the year when he hurt his ankle. These guys are veterans, they have won Stanley Cups in this league. They are big players who know how to play the game. You put all the components together, and that is not even touching on the fact that we have a group of young guys, whether it be Derek Joslin or Nick Petrecki, or Matt Irwin or Justin Braun, or Nick Shaus that can come in and make this team. We have high expectations for them. We have Jay Leach, who is a really good veteran, team guy who did a really good job for us too. That is where we sit today. We have all of our picks in next year's draft, and we have a lot of things that other teams like too. If we decide we need to add a piece, we have all the assets to be able to do that. It is a long way away from the trading deadline, and a long way away from playoff time next year. We really like where our team is at. Competition is a tremendous motivator for all of these guys coming in. We like where we sit today.
Although it appears as it this will be the team that heads into the regular season, there's always that thought in the back of my mind that Wilson does in fact realize that the team has issues on the defensive end. Maybe this is just his latest form of lip-service, giving confidence to his youngsters and establishing that he doesn't need to make a move. It's the position he likes to be in.
Wilson has always been one to take advantage of others misfortunes, and perhaps the reason that he hasn't made a deal yet is because there isn't a situation he's found to his liking.
There might be one, now.
Robyn Regehr, one of the best shutdown defenders in the NHL, fueled trade speculation yesterday when he answered questions about his offseason to the Calgary Sun.
"Have I been approached about (a trade)?" repeated Regehr yesterday during a suddenly awkward exchange.
"Ahhhhh, I can't really ... I'm not going to get into that.
"It's part of sports. That's the way it is."
Regehr was trying to beat around the bush a little bit there, but it was obvious to all that he had at least been approached about the possibility of being traded. With Calgary in a bit of a salary pinch, Regher would be the easiest piece to move to get them underneath the cap.
In our opinion, Wilson should be very interested in Regehr; he's a player we've liked for years now. Plank wrote a piece last offseason about the possibility of landing the big defenseman, and what it would take to acquire him. Back then, Kent Wilson of Matchsticks and Gasoline provided that it would take a high level prospect, a young scoring forward and another piece (likely a pick) to grab Regehr. However, a few factors may have dropped these expectations.
In a recent article on Flames Nation, Kent revisited the possibility of a Regehr trade. In that article, he proposes a deal with Washington for David Steckel and a pick. Although Steckel is a good player in his own right, he's no where near what Regehr is and represents a huge downgrade from what Wilson asked for just a season ago. If Steckel and a pick is a realistic return for Regehr (especially when the pick is from Washington, another late in the round team), the Sharks could easily make a similar offer.
This is all assuming that Regehr is willing to waive his no trade clause, which could be a potential road block to any deal. But if the deal were possible, let's start with Torrey Mitchell. Although he didn't score as many goals as Steckel did last year, he only put up five less points and is three years younger. While Torrey doesn't have the greatest upside, it's safe to assume that he'll improve by the time he's Stekel's age (28). Mitchell has also shown that he's a pretty solid defensive forward and still has some untapped offensive potential.
On top of that, add in San Jose's first round pick. Say what you will about Regehr or Calgary GM Darryl Sutter, but there is no way that you get Regehr without a first round pick in there somewhere. It's a given.
From there, you build. But I believe a package of Mitchell ($1.3MM) and a first is at least comparable to what Kent Wilson proposed. Would the Flames be interested in Thomas Greiss? I'd throw him in. Steven Zalewski? No problem. Doug Wilson could really sweeten the pot with a number of prospects (assuming Couture, McGinn, Petrecki and Stalock are untouchable).
I don't personally think that this is enough to grab a player of Regehr's caliber, especially since just last year the package for him consisted of Devin Setoguchi, Nick Petrecki or Logan Couture, and a first round pick. However, I'm just going off what's being said, and if Steckel and a pick is all it takes, I pull the trigger in a heartbeat.
If the trade did go down as structured above, the Sharks would have to find out what to do with Kent Huskins. Without moving his salary, there is really no way the Sharks wind up in the black. Calgary can't take him (salary reasons), so it would have to be in a separate deal which is something that complicates the proceedings. However, based on Doug Wilson's comments above, it's unlikely he gives up on Huskins (who admittedly played pretty well last year).
However, it's tough to take anything Wilson says at face value. And that's why a post like this is nothing more than a way to waste some time on a Sunday morning. When it all comes down to it, there's no way of knowing if Wilson is even considering a move at this point.
We think he should, though. And with Regehr on the block, it's tough not to let our thoughts wander.