Every week, excellent sports writer and noted hockey insider Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) publishes an article titled “30 Thoughts”. If this is the first time you have heard about this, immediately stop reading my column and go read his. Seriously, it is appointment reading whenever he drops a new piece.
These articles start with some sort of story or anecdote relating to the hockey world and work their way into Friedman’s 30 thoughts of that week. Last week, as usual, the newest “30 Thoughts” hit my Twitter feed and I eagerly dove in. Normally, you get insight into the entire NHL landscape and helps give you an idea of what is brewing from Vancouver to Sunrise. However, two of the thoughts stuck out, as they were Sharks specific.
The first thought to contain San Jose news was number 18. It is Winnipeg centric as Friedman muses about the idea that the Jets were right in calling Ondrej Pavelec back up from the AHL as Hellebuyck and Hutchinson have struggled. Then, right at the end, he notes Winnipeg was torn about this because of Hutchinson and that they “feared losing him on waivers, particularly to San Jose. “
This, as it should be to everyone else, came as a mild surprise given the Sharks current goaltender situation. If Michael Hutchinson were to be claimed he would obviously come in as the backup up to Martin Jones. This would force out Aaron Dell, who has been nothing short of excellent in the reserve role. Why would the Sharks be in the market for a new backup? A few theories to consider immediately spring to mind.
First, San Jose is not confident in Aaron Dell and it is as simple as that. It seems like the most logical reasoning, especially after being burned by Alex Stalock recently. Doug Wilson remedied the Stalock situation by going out and getting James Reimer, an NHL starting caliber goalie, at the deadline. This year San Jose doesn’t have a need to upgrade as Dell, albeit in seven starts and one relief effort, has put up a .933 save percentage and 1.84 GAA. There is nothing more you can ask from Dell than to put up those numbers and give San Jose a viable option to get Jones more rest.
Second, Doug Wilson sees Dell as worse than his numbers suggest. Again, this probably stems from the Stalock years and the fact he did not translate to the NHL game. However, his AHL stats were far worse than that of Dell. By digging into those numbers we see that he posted a .925 save percentage and a 2.24 GAA, both numbers that indicate future NHL success.
If in-house scouting and coaching staffs graded Dell poorly, you can bet the GM is going to believe his own men. This would seem foolish especially when comparing Dell’s strong start and AHL career compared to the tepid numbers Hutchinson has put on the board. Hutchinson is currently sporting a career .908 save percentage and 2.68 GAA with this season having his numbers sink to sub .900 save percentage and above 3 GAA. Does this sound like a backup goalie you would want? Didn’t think so.
Lastly, maybe Wilson is just looking to acquire assets. Hutchinson has been in the NHL for four seasons now and is a known quantity. Wilson could be looking to bolster goaltending depth and/or looking to flip Hutch or Dell to a team in need. I think this theory has the least credibility and it seems more logical that Wilson is not comfortable with Dell as his backup.
Remember, the Sharks’ holes post-Cup Finals were scoring forward, a non-corpse like defenseman, and a backup goalie. Wilson quickly checked off Boedker and Schlemko but curiously did not sign a backup. Wilson was comfortable with Dell coming into the season but it is possible Doug has gotten skittish with the current set up.
After overcoming this small revelation, Friedman tabs San Jose again as a possible deadline destination in thought 21. Shane Doan has said he is willing to waive his NTC for the right situation and Friedman states “I could see three of the California teams taking a look.” Could long time pain in the ass of San Jose be Bay bound in a few weeks?
Shane Doan has played forever, and all with
Winnipeg, Phoenix, Arizona. The Friedman thought mentions Doan moving was unthinkable last year but is possible now that he is closing in on retirement and the Desert Dogs want to focus on the pups. The most likely scenario is Doan finishes out the season and retires a Coyote, but that is the least fun scenario.
If San Jose were truly interested in adding the fading power forward, what would be the cost? The Captain makes a tidy $3,876,134 (shout out to CapFriendly for doing yeoman’s work) and becomes a UFA after this season. He is a classic rental player, prime for a contender to load up with. I think Arizona would have to retain some salary in any deal to help match up the numbers.
Tommy Wingels literally got traded as I wrote my Wingels and a pick for Doan scenario. Arizona gets a pick and a consummate pro in Wingels and San Jose bolsters their forwards. It was perfect. Farewell Tommy, give them hell in my nation’s capital. This narrows down the possible choices for Arizona to get back.
I have zero doubt in my mind that a too large section of the fan base would welcome a Boedker for Doan swap. This trade is unlikely as Boedker is signed for multiple years and would have to take a spot from one of the kids in Arizona’s war chest of prospects. Also, Boedker is good and just got off to a glacially slow start.
The easiest straight across swap is Ward for Doan. The salaries almost match identically and are both older in age. This trade seems unlikely though for multiple reasons. Ward is a respected veteran who is well liked in the Sharks locker room. Shipping him out for a rental would not be a good look and could upset the chemistry in the room.
Secondly, is Doan even an upgrade from Ward? Probably not, and this would be more of a sideways deal than any sort of bolstering for the playoffs. Finally, is it wise to remove a top nine forward so late in the season? Upgrading a bottom player for a better player is one thing, but Ward plays up and down the forward ranks and is reliable come playoffs. I don’t think Wilson is in the game of shaking up a pretty deep roster looking to go back to the Finals.
What if San Jose packaged up some young pieces, a Goodrow, a Carpenter, or a Haley together with a pick and sends it to the desert? This is clearly an upgrade and would add even more depth to an already depth rich team. If you can send Goodrow and Haley with a pick to Arizona for Doan and some retained salary, you do this every day and twice on Sunday. I wouldn’t break the bank or mortgage any sort of future piece, but there are some spare parts around and losing a mid-round pick isn’t the worst of situations. Doan has long agitated the Sharks and bringing him into the fold would be quite interesting. This all assumes Doan even waives his NTC to go to a former rival.
Do I think San Jose should pick up Hutchinson if he becomes available? Definitely not. Do I think San Jose should pick up Shane Doan? Maybe. As the deadline looms, expect these rumours to bubble up. Hopefully Wilson finds value and tweaks the Sharks for another deep run. The last thing we want is another Bill Guerin.