San Jose Sharks Upgrade Blue Line before Trade Deadline

MJ KasprzakSenior Writer IIFebruary 19, 2011

Iam White gives the Sharks a third puck-moving defenceman
Iam White gives the Sharks a third puck-moving defencemanBruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL trade deadline is just over a week away, and the San Jose Sharks are already active.

They traded defenceman Derek Joslin and a second-round pick for Ian White and future considerations. Because White for a second-round pick came later in the day, it is possible that was the future consideration.

With this move, the Sharks have upgraded the weakest position on the team without getting rid of anything more than an insurance player at that position and one of two picks in the second round of next summer's draft (Joslin appeared in just 17 games with the Sharks this season, scoring four points).

White gives the Sharks blue line what it needed most: another puck-moving defenceman. Douglas Murray, Kent Huskins, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Niclas Wallin are solid to very good in their own end, but with between seven and 10 points, lack the scoring capabilities the Sharks need out of the blue line.

White averages over a point every three games in his career, with three seasons over 25 points. At 26 years old, he also does not mortgage the team's future.

Now San Jose has three bona fide quarterbacks on the power play, with White joining Dan Boyle and Jason Demers; all are right-handed. White is also above average in his own end, even though he is not very big (5'10" and 200 lbs.), rating a plus-nine for his career and only once finishing a season in the negative.

There had been much speculation about who the Sharks would go after, and with major defencemen such as Tomas Kaberle, Francois Beauchemin and Paul Mara already being moved, the pool was thinning. Others to switch teams just following the Sharks trade were Erik Johnson, Eric Brewer and Kevin Shattenkirk.

General Manager Doug Wilson said the team's improved play (13 points in the last nine games) made the difference in upgrading, suggesting he held off making a move until he was sure the team could contend. He also made a point of saying he had to find the right fit for the long-term as well as the immediate, and while White is a free agent at the end of the year, this would give both parties a trial run before making a long-term commitment to one another.

White is expected to be in the lineup for Saturday night's tilt against the Colorado Avalanche, who have recently changed personnel significantly. Peter Forsberg joined the club and then retired in the last week, they traded goalie Craig Anderson for Brian Elliot and moved Shattenkirk and forward Chris Stewart for Johnson and forward Jay McClement.

The Avs are fighting to stay in the playoff hunt, currently five games back with 24 to play.

San Jose's second victory of the month over the Washington Capitals did not hurt the case for contending. The Sharks also finally got better play out of special teams.

Scoring opened with first period short-handed goal from Joe Pavelski, but Alex Ovechkin got that score right back on the same power play. That ended scoring through two periods in a tightly-played contest that saw only 32 total shots--14 by the Sharks.

In the third period, the Sharks seemed to have more left in the tank. San Jose had just settled in from a seven-game road trip, but the Caps had played a high-scoring contest the night before in Anaheim.

San Jose got an early goal from Ryane Clowe, and Dany Heatley ended a six-game scoring drought that coincided with the team's power-play drought just past the midpoint. But Washington was not done, with Niklas Backstrom lacing a shot from the high slot with just under two minutes to go.

However, the Sharks were able to prevent Washington from even pulling their goalie until inside of 30 seconds and held on for the win.

Over the game, they out-shot their foes 28-25, were better in the faceoff circle 28-23 and had one fewer penalty. The Caps had seven more blocked shots (18-11), three more hits (19-16) and were plus-two in giveaway-takeaway margin than their hosts.