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Target Practice: What Should San Jose do at the Deadline?

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Will San Jose go shopping on March 1st?

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at San Jose Sharks John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Trade Deadline Day is most likely overrated in Canada and underrated in the USA. It is generally not that exciting in a salary cap world, as the cap has done away with mega-deals. A contending team can’t just go out and add three veterans, price be damned. In my opinion this sucks, as there is nothing like a good old blockbuster, juicing up a team for playoff hockey.

Now, all of this isn’t to say that I will not be glued to Twitter/TSN/rumour mills with my friends and I blowing up each other’s phones. I have watched/actively followed Deadline Day for probably 15 plus years, and every year I keep coming back. In university, my best friend and I skipped class to stay home and watch. We actually ordered TSN branded Gino Reda mugs. They showed up the morning of St. Patrick’s Day and we eagerly used them for green beer all day and night.

The deadline this year is shaping up kind of weird because of the looming Las Vegas expansion draft. That doesn’t mean TSN has not put out their traditional deadline targets though. You can check it out here, as it will be the basis for potential trade targets I am about to explore for San Jose leading into the deadline.

A couple housekeeping things, so you know where I am coming from. Obviously, we would all like the Sharks to trade for Duchene, Trouba, and Nylander but that’s not going to happen. I am trying to base the potential targets in reality insofar as the Sharks can actually afford them. Also, I am basing this on if it makes sense for the Sharks to trade for this person.

So yes, San Jose could trade for player X, but if it doesn’t make sense then that will factor in. Lastly, I am not here to try and dismantle the deepest and arguably best defense San Jose has had in years. There is no reason to trade a defender to shore up the forward position because that’s counter productive.

So for the readers who didn’t click the link, the list is made up of 20 guys TSN has deemed the best available players. Right off the top we can eliminate five players, because they are goalies and we have a big Joner in the Bay. From there, Shattenkirk will get the axe, because he plays defense. That leaves 14 forwards as targets.

We can hack off a further five, because they are fossils. Nobody wants the corpse of Brian Gionta or Alex Burrows cruising around in playoff time. I have included Radim Vrbata, Shane Doan, and Jarome Iginla here. No matter how many intangibles and how much heart these vets can bring, it is just not worth it. Iginla isn’t going to intangible the puck into the net and turn in a good season. San Jose needs help on offense, not in the dressing room.

Of the nine remaining, there are two young guys with term. Colorado is an abject tire fire, so it makes sense they have made Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog available. From what I have read it seems Duchene is ready and willing to go and has resigned himself to leaving Denver. Landeskog is the captain and a more defensive player than Duchene. Can either guy become a Shark? I mean, I hope so, but the cost is going to be steep. Landeskog is four years and $5.57 million a year whereas Duchene is two years at $6 million.

Both guys are fetching picks, prospects, and players and you can bet those aren’t fourth rounders. If, and that is a big if, Colorado is willing to move Duchene for say Goldobin and a first, I think you do that. However, that seems very light for such a skilled player. As you can see, it is going to take a lot of the Sharks young guys and depth to pry them away. I just don’t think San Jose should give up the eventual asking price for them. The one thing about going for it and getting Duchene is that it would ease the downward slide of Jumbo and Paddy. The transition to a team without them would become much easier. Also of note, other teams are in better positions to pay up for one of these kids, so it will also be hard to beat the asking price of say, an Arizona.

There are now seven players remaining, but let’s eliminate Curtis Lazar. He is awful. One point in 27 games for a fairly competent Ottawa team is just not good. Mathieu Perreault can also be taken off the list. He is fairly good and under different circumstances would be welcomed into the Sharks fold. The problem here is that he is 29 and has four years at $4.13 million remaining. You can find Perreaults in free agency every year so it would be foolish to give up an asset at the deadline for him.

That leaves quite an eclectic five remaining on the list. Hanzal, Vanek, Eberle, Stafford, and van Riemsdyk. It is interesting that Edmonton is still in the mindset of dealing, and going on past deals who knows what they would want. Eberle has two years at $6 million a year remaining, so this is more than just a rental. In the summer Edmonton made it clear they wanted defensive help, and overpaid for a mediocre to average defenseman. Are they still in the mindset of gathering another d-man? If so, I don’t think San Jose should move into the Eberle talk.

A prospect and a pick, or roster player and a prospect seems like a good price but San Jose would also need to clear serious cap room. An Eberle deal would require a reciprocal move of like a Boedker or Ward being shipped out so that the cap matches. Eberle is more than just a rental; he would conceivably be part of the future and definitely the next two years on his current contract. I think an Eberle deal is not ideal at the current juncture in San Jose.

Take what I said about Eberle and copy it to the JvR trade talk. He is under contract next season, albeit at a modest $4.25 million, so it is easier to slot him in. Toronto is making a surprise run to the playoffs, so prying JvR away from the Six will not be easy. He is listed at 20th, and in all honesty I think Leafs brass is making him available but only if the offer is overwhelming. Toronto has been very particular in the rebuild and shipping JvR off just because does not fit their M.O. I would personally love van Riemsdyk in San Jose, he is a great player that can be relied on for offense and is still only 27.

Stafford is 31 years old and mired in a 12-point campaign in Winnipeg. I would assume he could be had for a mid to late round pick, which isn’t the worst thing to give up. This is the kind of “we tried at the deadline” move that doesn’t excite anyone and is really just whatever. Is he better than Ward or Karlsson? No probably not.

Martin Hanzal feels like he is in deadline trade talks every single season. Does Hanzal excite anyone or think he can provide extra pop for the Sharks? I’m sure there are hardcore Hanzal fans out there, but just like Stafford, it is a move for the sake of a move. He has 19 points in 40 games which is misleading because he plays for the Desert Dogs, so he’s better than the point totals suggest. He also has an NTC so he would have to waive that to come to Nor Cal, which I am assuming he will do in a heartbeat to get away from the horrible Arizona team.

Finally we get to Thomas Vanek, and you know what? I kind of like Vanek coming to San Jose. He is only making $2.6 million so it won’t be as painful to fit him in as some other people on this list. Vanek is also enjoying a renaissance season, with 31 points in 37 games for a dreadful Detroit team. This is a classic guy waiting to be shipped to a contender.

If San Jose calls the Motor City and gives them a conditional sixth that can become a fifth or fourth, who says no? I would assume Ken Holland would take any kind of asset for a 32-year-old free agent. Vanek has also proven he can be an elite goal scorer in the NHL. It would definitely add some juice to the power play and the bottom six. The one thing with Vanek is that he has burned teams before; just ask Montreal or the Islanders.

After all that, the best player to get for San Jose might be no player at all. San Jose is deeper than last year and has a much better defense. There is no point in mortgaging future assets or current depth to try and win the Cup with a rental. Of course this would make for a boring Sharks deadline, and nobody wants that.