It's finally (almost) official. Despite a late bid from Philadelphia that never made much sense and a maelstrom of reports suggesting interest from Boston, Montreal and Vancouver, Ryane Clowe's final destination this season will be Broadway as the Sharks have traded him to the Rangers for 2nd and 3rd round picks as well as an additional 2nd rounder contingent on him re-signing with New York. While the trade call has yet to be made (which obviously means Clowe will end up a Penguin when all is said and done), Clowe has agreed to waive his no-trade clause and the Sharks and Rangers appear to have the deal in place.
The return obviously falls short of Doug Wilson's reported asking price of a first-round pick and prospect but, without a contract extension in place and given Clowe's full no-trade clause, it's easy to see why the Sharks had to settle for less. There's also the whole Clowe approaching the one-year anniversary of the last time he scored a goal in the NHL thing but it's likely that most GMs see this streak for the unfortunate run of percentages that it is (the hockey gods exacting revenge on Clowe for playing the puck from the bench, presumably) rather than an indication he's fallen off the map as a player. While Clowe is far from the territorial demon and offensive threat he was in the 2010-11 season, a banner year for the rugged Newfoundlander that saw him score 24 goals, 62 points and finish 5th in the league in even-strength shot differential, he's still a serviceable bottom-six forward who can fill in on a second line given favorable circumstances. Regardless of the goose-egg in his goal totals, it isn't difficult to see why a Rangers team lacking scoring depth was interested in acquiring him.
So why did a Sharks team lacking scoring depth give him up? The need to enhance a shallow prospect pool looms large here and selling off an asset the organization likely didn't see fitting into their long-term plans while acquiring reasonable futures in return makes sense from that perspective. In reality, losing Clowe doesn't equal a significant dent on the team's hopes of making the playoffs or advancing in the postseason. It's still a somewhat curious move on the surface given that none of these picks are great bets to even turn into NHL players, let alone ones of significance. San Jose now has its own first round pick, its own second round pick, New York's 2nd round pick, Pittsburgh's 2nd round pick, Florida's 3rd round pick (which is as good as a late 2nd), its own 4th round pick (re-acquired from Chicago), its own 5th, 6th and 7th round picks and Calgary's 7th in the upcoming, purportedly deep 2013 NHL Entry Draft. That's a haul that includes five of the top 61 picks as things currently stand. Is Doug Wilson planning to package selections on the draft floor to move into the top-10? Or are one or more of these picks now in play over the next 20 hours? It's impossible to know but I have a feeling the Sharks haven't made their final trade prior to Wednesday's 12PM deadline.
As for Clowe, here's hoping he wins a Cup with the Rangers. His goalless drought this season was darkly humorous and it isn't difficult to find footage of him costing his team by taking less-than-necessary penalties throughout his career, but that's a consequence of playing on the proverbial edge. Clowe paid his dues in the minors and worked his way up through the Sharks organization to provide the team with three full seasons (and parts of three others) featuring excellent hockey. For a while there, he was an unparalleled force along the boards in the offensive zone and played a major role in Logan Couture's development as a young player. It's impossible to know the damage done by the hit he sustained at the hands of Niklas Kronwall in the 2011 playoffs but it isn't a stretch to draw a connection between that event and the decline of his usefulness as a player, which is disheartening. But what shouldn't be forgotten is that, in his prime, Clowe was a warrior for this team who helped dictate the flow of play when he was on the ice and helped carry the Sharks over Los Angeles in the first round two springs ago, notching four goals and seven points in that six-game series win.
Happy trails in Newe Yorke, Ryane.