Steady as she goes!
Not a bad mentality for some, but for Northern California hockey, it can feel a bit empty.
The San Jose Sharks kept the steering wheel heading due north during the biggest “mover-and-shaker” day of the year and fans are left wondering, where were the fireworks, where was a move for some blue line depth, and where was really anything at all.
Whether this non-movement was a good decision or not will be answered by the trophy that they bring home at end of the season. Unfortunately for San Jose’s management, this ship only has one stop…and the waters ahead are looking nefarious.
There are several reasons for the rather docile NHL Trade Deadline and all of it whittles down to no one really wanted what the Sharks had to offer.
The Sharks have only four full time forwards and four full time defensemen that will not be a free agent when this offseason rapidly arrives.
Of these eight players, only three (Torrey Mitchell, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Kent Huskins) were mostly like on the table to move. The other five (Ryane Clowe, Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton, Douglas Murray, and Dan Boyle) are too crucial to the success of the Sharks this season and in the future to ship out of town.
In a NHL Trade Deadline market that definitely had more buyers than sellers, unloading players that are on the last year of their contracts can get quite difficult. Eleven Sharks could possibly call a new arena home next year and the most movable players in this category donned the sometimes dreaded Restricted Free Agent (RFA) label.
While trading Joe Pavelski would have been ludicrous, other RFAs like Devin Setoguchi, Brad Staubitz, and even Derek Joslin have shown value. But this value often transfers to an expensive price tag when resigning time rolls around.
Many believed that GM Doug Wilson would try to move Vlasic before the trading deadline finally hit at noon PST, but with the decline in the young defenseman’s play, finding a possible suitor probably was not easy.
Loaded with at $2.4 Million contract that keeps increasing over the next three years, the idea of gaining a scrawny defenseman that is currently bringing very little to the table couldn’t have sounded enticing to other GMs around the league.
If the Sharks truly wanted to go “all in“ for the Stanley Cup at the NHL Trade Deadline, a pairing of Mitchell and Setogutchi could have been an interesting combination to grab the attention of the handful of sellers out there.
With Setoguchi riding a terrible slump this season, his value has take an turn for the worse.
Resigning Setoguchi to a lucrative contract may not be as definite as it would have been if his contract ended last season. His inability to get comfortable on really any line has to concern the Sharks and if comes down to giving either him or Pavelski a big contract at the end of the season, it will indisputably go to the Olympian who has proved his worth.
This decline on the ice by Setoguchi and the fact that he will probably wants a huge contract extension because of his highly productive 2008-09 season undoubtedly brings concern to most of the GMs looking at the forward.
But paired together with Mitchell, it could have been a gamble a down-and-out franchise might have been interested in. These two young players have shown glimmers of breakout talent in the past and if they can find that form again, they could explode into franchise players as a duo. However injuries and slumps can put a kibosh on almost anything and if these two were in any trade deadline talks these topics most definitely reared their ugly heads.
While the overall NHL Trade Deadline this season was hardly spectacular, as a fan it is always nice to see that your franchise is doing something to better their on ice product. But with so many moving parts ready to fall off once the season finally comes to a close, this ship better find its final destination or these Sharks will be drowning is some torrential offseason waters.