Yep. It’s that time of year again. That’s right — Rosterbation time.
After the Sharks made a bold splash in acquiring Eric Fehr on Wednesday, I felt compelled to write an article on three additional bold moves the Sharks should offer at the coming deadline on Monday, February 26.
The Sharks, at the moment, are a solid playoff team. Major credit to Pete DeBoer, the coaching staff, and the players for showing up this season game in and game out, (New Year’s Eve notwithstanding). It’s safe to say that where San Jose is right now is as good a position as they could’ve hoped for at the start of the season. Plenty of positives, the most promising of which has been the strides taken by players such as Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, Joakim Ryan, and Chris Tierney. Tomas Hertl has become a force to deal with, as well. Even Barclay Goodrow has transformed into looking very much the part of an everyday fourth liner.
Indeed, we’ve seen hot goalie play take worse teams on deep playoff runs into June. But the reality of the matter is that the team likely still needs a push to plant itself as a serious contender.
The Sharks will have excellent depth once Hertl and Ward come back, and it’ll only be gravy on the rooster with Jumbo expected to be back by playoff time too. On the defensive side of things, the team’s three pairings are set: Vlasic/Braun, Ryan/Burns, Dillon/Demelo, with Tim Heed and Paul Martin available as fill-ins. Aaron Dell is among the top backups in the league, so goaltending is set, too.
The one area where the Sharks can use some help is top-six forward play. The problem, however, is that top-six forwards come at a premium, and the team shouldn’t and, thankfully, aren’t looking to part with a Ryan, Labanc, or Meier to make that happen, rental or not.
Having said that, there are some moves that Wilson can make to acquire such a player, if they come at the right price. A Tomas Tatar, Thomas Vanek, Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, or Mike Hoffman would all be welcomed into the fold to help with a cup run. Again, at the right price.
But this piece looks to present three bold, Jumbo-acquiring type of trades that the Sharks can offer other teams, not just to bolster their roster and give the team a serious push for the Cup this year, but also shake up the organization’s future for the better on a bigger scale.
Go big or go home — hold on to your butts.
Tavares for Jones Package
Of course the first bold splash is acquiring John Tavares. The man’s a superstar. If you need an introduction, then you should use your time to watch some Isles games instead.
By now, if you’ve paid any attention to hockey trade rumors, you’ll know very well that he’s a pending unrestricted free agent at season’s end and that the Isles are having issues filling seats at their temporary arena (so weird) for the next three seasons as they await the construction of their new billion-dollar arena.
“But Cheech — Isles GM Garth Snow has repeatedly stated that he won’t move Tavares! They’re still in the playoff hunt too, so it wouldn’t make sense!”
Yes, the Isles are still in playoff contention, but the coming trade deadline constitutes as the final opportunity for Snow to receive a return before their face of the franchise potentially leaves for nothing. He can insist all he wants that he won’t trade Tavares, but the bottom line for Snow is that, despite his honorary status as the rightful heir to the seven kingdoms, his job and reputation are on the line with how he decides to handle an asset this valuable, especially considering how Isles fans are spending their time and money placing billboards across city streets calling for his firing instead of buying season tickets to the new arena.
(Just remember, Snow, even though your own city’s fans are starting to turn on you...
It’s for the watch.)
As such, Snow must act on a carefully constructed calculus which assesses the degree of the risks at play. If there’s a backdoor deal between Tavares and Snow that assures Snow of Tavares remaining an Islander, then, well, that’s that (can you think of a reason for a backdoor?). But if he deems it as a high enough risk that Tavares will leave July 1 for nothing, then — incompetence notwithstanding — a commitment to maximizing the team’s chances for one playoff push should turn to moot when juxtaposing it with the priority of long-term asset retention. So if the right offer comes its way, Snow is going to consider, once again assuming competence.
By the “right offer,” Snow will look for the deal to 1) keep his team relevant, 2) not come from a division (ideally, conference) foe, and, most importantly, 3) be a team willing to part with assets not just for a playoff push but long term, and thus by extension must be a team that has cap space.
The Sharks fit the bill for all these requirements, and should therefore make it a second straight summer where they push hard for a league superstar.
For assets, the Islanders are in need for a franchise goalie, despite the past success of both 32-year-old goalies in Jaroslov Halak and former Shark Thomas Greiss. The Sharks happen to have one. Aaron Dell has done an excellent job over the course of the past two years and deserves a starting job in the NHL. But in this context, he’d find that job with the Sharks.
Martin Jones has his deficiencies, but his better poise in net, rebound control, and proven ability to turn his game up notches when it matters most place him a tier above Dell and overall among the upper tier above-average goaltenders in the league. Snow is going to value him a great deal. Throw in a first rounder, a promising prospect in Noah Rod or Julius Bergman, or both if hardball’s the name of the game, and there’s a chance that you convince Snow, and in so doing, redefine the trajectory of the Sharks’ future with JT 2.0 at the helm for the next decade.
One incredibly important point to keep in mind here is that Doug Wilson must also act on a carefully constructed calculus in determining an appropriate trade package offer. Snow inherently comes to any negotiations at a disadvantage with the threat of Tavares leaving looming at the table. He’d almost certainly would ask for a Hertl + Labanc/Meier/Ryan instead and would likely stay with that demand. Wilson however must avoid including these pieces, primarily because there’s the enormous risk of Tavares walking away for nothing in July. A Martin-centered trade however avoids this conundrum, and is the only realistic package that makes sense for the Sharks to offer. Why? From the Sharks perspective, it’s game theory — hedging your bets. A Martin deal at least gives the Sharks a safety net in Dell, who can be then locked down long term, in a worst-case scenario of doing the trade and having Tavares walk. It’s a risk worth taking.
A Hertl + Labanc on the other hand provides no such net. The Sharks are royally screwed if they trade away these pieces for nothing if Tavares doesn’t sign. But even if Snow and Tavares agree to a sign-and-trade only in exchange for a Hertl + Labanc/Meier/Ryan package, Wilson should not be entirely convinced of a presumed efficacy in doing such a deal since 1) the better play is to try to land him in the offseason without moving any pieces at all and 2) it’s not clear that the Sharks become an overall better team with such a trade. Yes, Tavares is a superstar, but as mentioned, the young pieces involved have all made impressive strides this season and have terrific outlooks going forward. Say the deal ends up a wash in its overall impact on the team. Ultimately it doesn’t give the Sharks the deal that puts them over the top as contenders, and isn’t that the only type of deal that Wilson should be looking for?
Sorry Jonesy. We still love you in this scenario, but we’d love JT more.
Pavelski - Tavares – Meier
Hertl – Couture – Labanc
Boedker – Tierney – Donskoi
Karlsson – Goodrow – Hansen
(Sorensen – O’Regan – Ward)
And if Jumbo comes back… there will be roosters.
Here’s the trade on Armchair GM via Cap Friendly.
Do you make this offer for Tavares?
This poll is closed
Maybe so; different offer (whether to make it to what you think is more realistic, different package, etc. Share in comments)
Brent Burns / Erik Karlsson Swap
Yes. A swap of two of the last three Norris Trophy winners, ala Subban/Weber.
For months now there have been little rumor-lettes of a discord between Karlsson and the Sens’ organization, which have spawned giant rumors of the organization’s apparent willingness to deal him, likely in the offseason, before he’s set to become a UFA in July 2019. But there have been reports surfacing that the Sens may try to deal him by this coming deadline too, likely due to fractured ties and a certainty of an eventual divorce between the two.
It’s important to note that in discussing this deal, Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion also inherently starts off at the table disadvantaged, simply due to the knowledge that Karlsson is pretty close to as good as gone in Ottawa and Burns is locked down for seven more years.
Having said that, the biggest drawback to Burns is his age. If he was three or four years younger, Dorion would no doubt take the deal. But on the other hand, Burns does give Ottawa a long-term replacement to their predicament of having a number one offensive D-man. Sure, they both play different games despite being broadly known as such, but there’s enough overlap to warrant the move.
It’s no secret to Sharks fans that Burns brings a mixed bag to the table. But the good is often under-appreciated. The Wookie brought in the highest point and goal totals in his Norris campaign last season and will probably do the same by season’s end and catch Dallas’ John Klingberg fairly quickly at the rate with which he’s been heating up, despite the slow start to the season.
Beyond numbers, Burns offers the Sens something arguably just as important in today’s NHL: marketability. Losing the face of their franchise would hurt. Pretty bad. But bringing in as unique a character as any in the league as Burns shouldn’t go overlooked as a factor in this potential deal, that is if the Wookie agrees to join Ottawa in his modified NTC. Let’s not forget — the NHL is first and foremost a business, one that needs a poster boy to sell tickets and merchandise.
Also, throwing in the Melk-Man into the deal makes a ton of sense, on so many levels.
(Erik confronting Melker as he barges into the Sharks Ice practice facility door, pulling up his pants to his waist: “This town ain’t big enough for two Karlssons!”)
Do you offer OTT a Burns / Karlsson swap?
This poll is closed
Maybe so; different offer.
Just for kicks, let’s consider a Burns / Doughty swap too, reality be damned with the two on rival teams in the same division with Doughty similarly having a year left on his deal. This would also be cheer-worthy for
Team Canada Sharks fans. C’mon. Disregard the beauty of a Vlasic — Doughty tandem for years to come and just think of a Plantronics Lip Reading between Cooch and Drew.
Two Sedins for Two 2020 Twos
It’s no secret that the Sedins want to finish out their careers in Vancouver despite not having won a Stanley Cup and the team not looking to be a likely contender for the Cup for the last years of their careers.
But a trade deadline move to San Jose to finish out the ‘17/’18 season makes a ton of sense from their point of view, as well as Vancouver’s and San Jose’s. The brothers are pending UFAs, and the Sharks are one of the few contenders who can take on even half of both their contracts with their cap space, or alternatively, one of their contracts in full. Why not have them traded for picks to San Jose to finish out the season? Vancouver picks up some assets, San Jose gets a legitimately powerful boost for the cup, and the Sedins get both a likely final chance for the cup in their careers and get to resign back home with Vancouver in July anyways.
The ticker is then the type of assets that would be involved in the trade from the Sharks side.
Will Vancouver demand a first as part of that transaction? If so, no way San Jose from the Sharks’ perspective. A 2019 second, though? Yes. That second, plus a prospect or another second with half the two salary’s retained to make it work? Let’s leave that call to Doug Wilson, but I’m intrigued. And that’s because this offer qualifies as of the franchise-changing variety, even if the incoming players will just be with the team anywhere from weeks to 3-4 months, since it gives the Sharks that big a push to nab its first cup.
Pavelski - Thornton - Meier
Hertl - Couture - Labanc
Sedin D. - Sedin H. - Hansen
Boedker - Tierney - Donskoi
(Sorensen - Karlsson - Goodrow)
Do you offer two second rounders for Sedins?
This poll is closed
Maybe so; different offer.
With that, you have three bold offers that Doug Wilson should make to bolster SJ’s cup chances and more importantly trajectory of its franchise. Of course, none of these are really needed since the Fehr acquisition likely puts the Sharks over the top for years to come.
I’m CheechYou signing off. And always…