Q: What seems to be a bigger trade deadline hole to fill? Forward or defense? Players like 18, 57, 50, 89, 80, 41 are having poor seasons, how should the Sharks fill in? (@cookthechef)
JW: To me, it's defense for sure. Yeah, forward depth has had been the bigger hole through the first 20 games. But that's because it's had injuries 4-5 deep at times. Every team in the league would struggle with depth without players like Couture, Karlsson, Torres, Smith & Donskoi for a bit. Defense, meanwhile, is 5 deep. The top 4 is great. Dillon's probably even a good five who can sub in. But beyond that, Mueller, Tennyson and Demelo don't look like they're top six material. And definitely not able to step into the top 4 if there's an injury.
JS: It has to be defense. The top four is fine, but not only is the bottom pairing mediocre at the best of times, when someone like Braun gets hurt...well, the Sharks are hosed. I don't know if, realistically, there's a lot of movement that can happen for the Sharks at this deadline, but if they're looking to shore something up it oughta be defense.
Q: Is there a market for Tommy Wingels? How easy would it be to take his cap space and convert it into another Dman? (J. Hernandez)
JW: I would say there's absolutely a market for Tommy Wingels. A huge one. I can't see a team that wouldn't want Tommy. Which makes me wonder why you'd trade him. He's a solid third liner with grit and leadership and all those things that should be an added bonus, not the only reason they're on a roster. Having Wingels means you don't have to ice a Haley or Brown when the team is fully healthy. All that being said, if Doug Wilson can get a great deal, go for it. But I think there are better options to trade.
JS: Last offseason? Absolutely. Right now? Well, if there is, it's time to move him. He's had a terrible season and while he might rebound I'd move him if there's someone willing to give up a defenseman for him.
Q: At the quarter point of the season, what are your current expectations for the Sharks?
JW: Really, the Sharks look like they're the team I expected. Probably going to finish second in the division, and they look like they could win a round or two. If they catch a break, make a sweet deadline deal, or have a younger player finally "figure it out" - like Nieto or Goldobin - the Sharks could even push further than they've been before.
JS: About the same as at the beginning of the season, honestly. The Sharks should make the playoffs and (depending on their draw) should get a first round win. If Jones can steal more than that, awesome.
Q: What's been your biggest surprise (positive or negative) about the Sharks this year?
JW: My biggest surprise this year has been Joel Ward. He leads the team in points/60 by a significant margin, and is second among forwards in total points. He has more points than Joe Thornton for crying out loud! Yeah, its fueled in part to a high shooting percentage, but he's been doing all the right things. I can't say enough good things about him. Right behind him though has been the good surprise of how much fun Joonas Donskoi is to watch play, and the bad surprise of just how far Chris Tierney has fallen back to earth.
JS: For me it's a toss up between Martin Jones and Joel Ward. Jones has well exceeded my expectations in net so far this year and Ward, well, his body of work speaks for itself. The point totals are eye-popping, obviously, but he's also been such a great addition in terms of the way he plays with everyone else.