NHL Trade Deadline: Sharks Stand Pat, Bound To Stumble Again

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NHL Trade Deadline: Sharks Stand Pat, Bound To Stumble Again
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The 2010 NHL trade deadline passed this afternoon, and not a single deal was made by the Western Conference-leading San Jose Sharks.

Now for fans on the outside, one might assume that a first-place team isn't in need of acquiring any new talent because it is in first place in its conference.

However, every local analyst—professional and amateur alike—following the Sharks had been clamoring for San Jose to pickup a puck-moving, top-four-caliber defenseman.

In fact, even the sometimes drastic and over-the-top Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle and Comcast Sports Net suggested the Sharks might have needed two defensemen at the deadline.

Whichever the case may be, it was clear that San Jose needed to trade for at least one proven defenseman—and nearly all Sharks followers and reporters were expecting an impressive acquisition to be made.

But as I sit here at 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time on Wednesday afternoon—four-and-a-half hours past the trade deadline—the Sharks have acquired zero defensemen.

So what does this mean for the Sharks?

It means that for all intents and purposes, the Sharks will once again be disappointed come the last game they play during the postseason.

There are simply too many teams that could cause the Sharks trouble come the postseason.

Stanley Cup contenders such as the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, and Washington Capitals have put together rosters that are much more capable of deep playoff runs.

Furthermore, potential playoff newcomers and division rivals Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes have improved themselves at the deadline by adding multiple new pieces for the stretch run.

San Jose, on the other hand, is staying pat with a defensive corps that is on pace for just 174 points—compared with last season, when the Sharks got more than 200 points from their blue line. 

While this year's top six forwards may be on pace for 404 points compared with last year's top six that totaled 390 points, the increase doesn't offset the loss in blue line production.

To be fair, the Sharks are on pace to score 10 more goals than they did last season, but when you look at the way the team appears to be setting up its defense for the playoffs, there is a definite lack of offensive ability.

Projected defensive pairs for the postseason are as follows:

Boyle-Murray

Blake-Vlasic

Huskins-Wallin

Outside of Boyle, there is simply not enough offensive firepower from this group. The only one other than Boyle with any offensive potential is Vlasic, who is sidelined with a lower body injury.

Even if Vlasic returns, the chances he plays better offensively than before his injury are slim to none.

In his absence, either Jason Demers or Jay Leach will fill in—but Demers lacks any consistent play in his own zone, and Leach brings zero offensive ability to the table.

Case in point: The Sharks needed to pick up another complete defenseman, and any number of puck-moving blue liners like Tobias Enstrom, Marek Zidlicky, Joni Pitkanen, Tomas Kaberle, or Lubomir Visnovksy would have been a huge boost for San Jose.

Now that Vlasic was recently put on the IR, one would have thought getting another defenseman would have become that much more critical.

But apparently, GM Doug Wilson likes what he currently has on his roster.

Unfortunately, that roster is just a little bit short on talent compared with the rest of the Stanley Cup favorites.

While the Sharks could get back to the Western Conference Finals for the second time in their history, it will now be extremely difficult to get past the Blackhawks and then the Devils/Penguins/Capitals in the cup finals.

Sharks fans surely don't want to hear it, but by staying pat at the deadline, it has cemented the fact that 2010 will not be the year in which San Jose brings home its first ever Stanley Cup.

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