The San Jose Sharks need a makeover.
While there's no shade that will magically turn the Western Conference powerhouse into a legit contender again, general manager Doug Wilson has been more than patient with the current core.
After the team ended up on the wrong side of history in the first round of the 2013-14 NHL playoffs, it's time for restraint to give way to a wave of change.
Wilson has already initiated the shifting of the guard via the addition-by-subtraction method.
#SJSharks GM Doug Wilson says that defenseman Dan Boyle will not be returning to the team this upcoming season.— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) May 15, 2014
Don't expect Wilson to stand pat outside of allowing Dan Boyle and Martin Havlat to walk away as free agents, though. The Fourth Period recently reported that the team will continue to be active during the offseason and could look to move one of its key players in a trade—namely Patrick Marleau or Joe Thornton:
Marleau and Thornton both have no-movement clauses in their contracts and would have to approve any trade the Sharks attempt to complete.
Marleau met with the Sharks on May 16 to discuss his future with the organization, where it is believed the topic of a potential trade was brought up.
According to multiple sources, TFP has learned that Thornton is not interested in waiving his no-movement clause, though Marleau may be more inclined to do so.
Talking to Marleau about a potential deal is one thing, but does it make sense for San Jose?
Since 1997, he has played in 1,247 games for the Sharks and is the franchise's all-time leader in contests played, goals, points, power-play points, short-handed goals, game-winning goals, overtime game-winners and shots.
In short, he's an important part of team history.
Does that automatically make him an important part of the squad's future, though?
We've seen similar situations crop up in Columbus and Tampa Bay over the last few seasons, with the Blue Jackets trading away franchise face Rick Nash while the Lightning moved Martin St. Louis at the trade deadline this season.
These choices are never easy, but they need to be made. The question that every GM in the NHL is trying to answer is this: Can this group win the Stanley Cup as it stands right now? If the answer is "No," then smart moves need to be made to change that.
McKenzie "whether the combination of the Sharks blowing it or the Kings overtaking them, this Sharks group has never made Final..."— Hope_Smoke (@Hope_Smoke) June 3, 2014
Right now, the Sharks aren't Cup contenders, and that has more to do with the mental wherewithal of the team's core than a lack of talent or depth.
It takes a lot of courage and will to win the Cup. Yes, possession numbers are important and there's more to winning a hockey game than simply wanting to win, but there needs to be some sort of competitive motor driving the team forward.
The Sharks don't have that, and that's partially because of Marleau's laid-back presence.
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane aren't building a dynasty with the Chicago Blackhawks just because of their determination when games are on the line. They're building a dynasty because they've found the right mix of drive and skill.
San Jose has never found that balance, and Wilson seems privy to that fact.
He had some strong words about the kinds of players he is looking for following San Jose's epic collapse against the L.A. Kings in Round 1 that saw the Sharks squander a 3-0 series lead. "I want players that want to play here, not just live here," he told Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury News.
Those are strong words from a generally patient manager who rarely rips his guys in public.
It's hard not to see this as a pointed remark aimed directly at Marleau and a handful of other central pieces on the team.
Getting a fresh start in terms of team chemistry and mindset is the biggest positive that would come from moving the 34-year-old winger. The Fourth Period indicated that the Sharks would be looking for a "young rising star" in return for Marleau, but that's almost secondary at this point.
What a franchise. I mean, what do you do? They've changed just about everything other than Marleau. Stacked every year. And always ... this.— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) May 1, 2014
San Jose has been a team on the cusp on winning it all for 13 seasons now. Clearing all of that dust and comfort away could be key to getting the team over the hump once and for all.
It would be a positive for Marleau as well, as he'd be able to get away from all the baggage that follows him around California after multiple playoff shortcomings.
That's the conclusion 20-year NHL veteran and current NBC commentator Jeremy Roenick came to as he discussed Marleau's future with the San Jose Mercury News:
I think a lot's been said, how long are you going to keep the Thornton-Marleau combination together? Whether one of them needs to have a change of scenery and to try to get something for them while they're 33-34 years old.
Both of them still have good years ahead of them. But I know that's been a question that the media has wondered, whether they can continue to go with the same guys, as the top guys. Joe being the captain, he would be the more likely guy to stay and run that team and continue to be the captain. The guy who's most obvious that might need to change is Marleau.
Tough moves did wonders for Nash and St. Louis. Marleau could be the next veteran that simply needs a fresh start to kick-start an idling career.
If there's a deal out there that makes sense for the Sharks and Marleau, then there should be zero hesitation to pull the trigger.
Statistics appear courtesy of NHL.com.