San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson should be in panic mode. His team is in the middle of an offensive drought that could place them out of the realm of possibility of making the playoffs, after starting the season 7-0-0.
In addition, this year’s trade deadline could be a make or break situation for Wilson and his own job with the team, as well as for head coach Todd McLellan.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch is reporting that Wilson “is in full panic mode” and much of the Sharks’ roster is on the trade block, with defenseman Douglas Murray being “shopped hard.” Other players rumored to be available for trade include forwards Ryane Clowe and Michal Handzus, with both becoming unrestricted free agents at the end of the season.
With the Sharks on the bubble of the Western Conference playoff picture, Wilson has a decision to make—attempt to pull off trades to propel San Jose into a position to make moves in the playoffs, or start over and become sellers in pursuit of better seasons in the future.
Currently, the Sharks are sitting in the eighth spot in the crowded Western Conference, but just four points away from sitting in 14th place. Missing the playoffs for the Sharks could mean a restructuring of the team’s roster, including the trade availability of every player not named Logan Couture or Brent Burns.
What should the Sharks do?
It seems rather obvious that Wilson would be in trade discussions with other teams. There would be uneasiness in San Jose if he was not willing to make trades at this point in the season, with the team playing the way it has of late.
The three names mentioned—Clowe, Handzus and Murray—are the clear favorites to be traded before the April 3 trade deadline. Both Clowe and Murray could become key pieces for elite teams looking for that one player to fill a weak area on the ice, and the Sharks could receive decent prospects or draft picks in return. However, that is about all San Jose can expect in return for those players.
Others that can be expected to be shopped by Wilson before the trade deadline are Dan Boyle, Jason Demers and Martin Havlat.
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun is reporting that a rebuilding of the team’s roster has been in San Jose’s plans for some time.
“Know this: Whatever the Sharks decide to do, they saw this day coming. They’ve been planning for a long time that they would need to refresh their roster around this time. That’s why they’ve got only $27 million committed in salaries past the 2013-14 season, which affords them the roster/payroll flexibility to tweak away over the next two years.”
What will be intriguing is how they go about it. Because the plan is to remain competitive while they’re doing it. And that’s no easy chore.”
If there is a general manager in the NHL that can pull such a feat off, it is Wilson. He has been one of the more active general managers in the sport, and it has led the Sharks to some successful seasons, and some not-so-successful seasons. Rebuilding or restructuring the team while keeping his job would be a success this time around.
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