The NHL trade deadline is under four weeks away and the San Jose Sharks offense has failed to score three goals without a shootout in 16 of the last 17 games. Only a drop to the bottom third of the Western Conference would change their status as buyers before the deadline passes.
Last season, the Sharks stood pat and were quickly ushered out of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. This team has better goaltending but such scoring woes that they need to pull off a Jeff Carter-like move that put the Los Angeles Kings—with the same blueprint—over the top.
But should the Sharks further mortgage their future for one more push?
If it does not work, there will be plenty of time to get prospects and picks this summer. Not only is there no reason for the Sharks to keep the core together, there is no room on the payroll for another push.
With the drop to a $64.3 million salary cap next season, Cap Geek lists the Sharks as having just 13 players (seven forwards, five defensemen and a goalie) and under $10.6 million in cap room.
San Jose's only four true scoring forwards are all under contract, as is second-line talent Martin Havlat. After that only Adam Burish and Tommy Wingels are signed into next season.
The blue line would have the top two pairs plus the top third-pair defenseman under contract. Antti Niemi would be in net. That is a decent enough core, but they take up too much of the team's payroll.
For the Sharks to re-sign every restricted free agent for a sum total of about the same money as this season is not far-fetched given many teams will have to cut roster costs. That would add Andrew Desjardins, James Sheppard, T.J. Galiardi, Jason Demers, Matt Irwin and either Alex Stalock or Harri Sateri for almost $5.7 million.
They could also promote John McCarthy, a worthwhile reserve forward, whose contract becomes one-way next season at $612,500. That would leave them strong on the blue line and at the starting goalie position, but needing one second-, third- and fourth-line forwards.
That is a lot to get for about $4.25 million in cap space. A look at the potential line, pair and goalie combinations that's left for San Jose shows why they would be lucky to make the playoffs at all, and thus might as well go all-in this season.