The San Jose Sharks have been active since the All-Star break officially kicked in Tuesday. Yet nothing has changed about the product on the ice.
Doug Wilson placed goalie Antero Niitymaki on waivers. He had fallen to third on the depth chart, and the Sharks had buried him for some time in the minors through rehabilitation and conditioning assignments, but ran out of options.
When Niitty cleared waivers, Wilson did not want to send him down to Worcester. The team has too many young goalies it needs to develop to give ice time to someone not in the team's future.
It also showed the market was bare for a goalie over 30 with a $2 million contract. While there may be a team looking to dump a player to fit him under their cap, such a player would simply be another body on the Worcester Shuttle.
Inexplicably, Wilson added another the next day.
While defenceman Sean Sullivan has been a standout for the AHL affiliate Worcester Sharks, he was not able to break into the San Jose roster even when two defencemen were on injured reserve. Thus, trading him for Tim Kennedy, who has 29 points in 112 career NHL games, including two in 27 this season with the Florida Panthers, was not without merit.
Still, what is the point in adding another forward who also will have trouble seeing action for a team looking to win now? The Sharks already have Tommy Wingels, Benn Ferriero, John McCarthy, Frazer McLaren and Andrew Murray fighting for time on the third line alongside Andrew Desjardins and Brad Winchester.
What do you think of the Kennedy trade?
Why does the team need eight fourth-line forwards? But rather than trading one away (perhaps with Sullivan in return for an impact player), Wilson added another.
If you count James Sheppard, expected to be healthy before the end of the season, and defenceman Jim Vandermeer, who has played on the wing and is having trouble making the lineup on the blue line, the Sharks have 10 players for three spots. Brad Mashinter and Ben Guite are also on the roster and have NHL experience.
With the Sharks scoring just 2.35 goals per game since Martin Havlat went down and just seven in the last five games in which Ryane Clowe joined him, this team needs a scorer. Even though the team scored well when both were healthy (65 goals in 21 games), it is clear the Sharks are a different team while missing a top-six forward.
Most teams are in that boat come mid-May, when San Jose can ill-afford another exit. The lack of players who can carry the team through injury is why they are the most likely trade deadline buyers in the division.
Perhaps nothing exemplifies this more than the All-Star Game. San Jose sent only Logan Couture to the festivities, and he was the last player selected by a captain to play for the team. (He won a car in exchange for this humbling.)
Some of this may be a lack of familiarity of him by captains in the Eastern Conference. An argument can even be made for as many as six other Sharks (Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Dan Boyle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Antti Niemi) to be All-Stars. However, none were really any better cases than any veterans who were selected.
A team that wins because of depth needs more of it. But adding a forward who may play a few games for the team would have been like adding a goalie.
Some combination of those 12 players, veteran defenceman Colin White and any number of goalies in the system, there is enough value for a scorer. Wilson needs to get the best deal he can for one.