Though Doug Wilson had previously said he wasn’t interested in a rental at forward, what looked to be a buyer’s market had the Sharks linked to several names, including recent pick up, Eric Fehr. Though Fehr came at a buyer’s price, for just a 2020 seventh round pick, the market has heated up over the past few days and it’s possible that some high cost trades have set a new standard San Jose is unwilling to match.
The first trade to really change the tone for the market wasn’t quite a rental. The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Derick Brassard from the Ottawa Senators via the Vegas Golden Knights in a three-team deal. The 30-year-old Brassard has an additional year on his contract, so he’s a bit more than a rental, but not necessarily a piece for the future of the Penguins franchise. The Penguins also added Tobias Lindberg, an underwhelming 22-year-old AHL winger, who will be a restricted free agent at the end of this season; Vincent Dunn, a 22-year-old fringe AHL forward who will become an RFA at the end of this season; and the Senators’ 2018 third-round draft pick.
But here’s what they lost: defenseman Ian Cole, forward Ryan Reaves, goaltending prospect Filip Gustavsson, 2018 first-round pick, a 2019 third-round pick, and Vancouver’s 2018 fourth-round pick.
Now, the Penguins had to play a heavy hand to get both the Senators and the Golden Knights to take on parts of Brassard’s contract. It’s still a lot to give up for hardly more than a rental — especially as the pieces lost could add to the Penguins’ future, where the pieces gained outside of Brassard are unlikely to play in the NHL.
The Brassard trade has raised the prices for known moving pieces.
Rick Nash was dealt to the Boston Bruins, with the New York Rangers retained half of his salary. All Boston had to give up was Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey (while retaining half of his salary), Ryan Lindgren, a 2018 first-round pick, and a 2019 seventh-round pick.
The Maple Leafs added center Tomas Plekanec and AHL forward Kyle Baun for the cost of AHL forward Kerby Rychel, AHL defenseman Rinat Valiev, and a 2018 second-round pick. 25-year-old Baun is unlikely to see NHL time at a consistent rate. Valiev may be close to being NHL-ready, while Rychel is a decent prospect with some NHL experience under his belt. And then of course, a second round pick in the upcoming draft. Not a huge loss for the Leafs, who are overloaded on prospects for the time being, but for a team who has fewer promising up-and-comers, that’s big money for a 35-year-old rental.
A third major trade actually found the Columbus Blue Jackets in a position to buy cheap, ultimately losing a 2018 fourth round pick to the Nashville Predators for Mark Letestu in a three-team trade that sent Pontus Aberg to Edmonton. They were likely able to get him for cheap due to performance. The 33-year-old center has the fewest number of goals (eight) of the major rentals acquired so far before the trade deadline.
The things these trades have in common? Aging veteran traded for youth and assets, and a lot of them.
That price might be too high for Doug Wilson to pay.
Since the Joe Thornton injury, we’ve learned that what was so recently an AHL team overloaded with talent is now hard-pressed to find players even serviceable for emergency call ups. Not only is there low trade value (as evidenced by having to package both Brandon Bollig and Troy Grosenick together to squeeze a sixth-round pick out of Nashville) but that also means that trading away picks depletes that pool even further.
The going price of a rental is now looking like a pick, a prospect, and a player and the teams looking to sell want youth. The realistically sellable assets at Wilson’s disposal? Danny O’Regan, Marcus Sorensen, Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, and Joonas Donskoi. Rudolphs Balcers, Rourke Chartier, and Jeremy Roy may have a smaller value in terms of prospects and could be packaged with an NCAA player’s rights, but that seems less likely.
The other thing to consider is that the rentals on the trade block aren’t young and neither are the Sharks. The addition of Eric Fehr only made this team older. They don’t need to add another Jannik Hansen just because Joe Thornton is on IR and Joel Ward is on the move.
If the going price didn’t include so much of San Jose’s questionable future, Doug Wilson might be more likely to make a big move by tomorrow — possibly for the Sabres’ Evander Kane or the Senators’ Erik Karlsson, both of whom are young and have the possibility of re-signing for the long-term.
But at these prices? He’s better off window shopping.