There are few general managers in all of the NHL with more impressive resumes than Doug Wilson.
In seven full seasons with him at the helm, the San Jose Sharks have five division titles and have finished no lower than the fifth seed in the competitive Western Conference. They have three conference finals appearances and have only failed to get out of the first round once.
Only the Detroit Red Wings have a better record over that span and have made the playoffs all seven seasons like the Sharks.
This success cannot be attributed to the players Doug Wilson inherited, as only Patrick Marleau predates Wilson. It cannot be attributed to the coaching staffs, as it has turned over more than one complete staff. There have even been changes to ownership.
The success is because of the shrewd moves Doug Wilson has made.
Trades brought in the top three players currently on the blue line, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Brent Burns and Dan Boyle. Add in forwards Martin Havlat and captain Joe Thornton and half of the team's eight players with five or more assists came via trade.
While Havlat came in return for Dany Heatley, he had come via trade for Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo. Thornton cost the team Brad Stuart, Wayne Primeau and Marco Sturm. Boyle's price was Matt Carle, Ty Wishart and a draft pick.
Vlasic's cost was the steepest, but Miikka Kiprusoff was never going to be anything more than a backup to Evgeni Nabokov. Thus, even in hindsight the team would make every trade on that list, though it is too soon to judge the Burns trade until the young talent the Sharks gave up realizes its potential.
He has done reasonably well drafting, with nine players on the roster being his picks and three others being used in the above trades. With his only pick in the top-20 (Logan Couture) being a stud and getting another from as late as the seventh round (Joe Pavelski), there is not enough to say his performance in late June deserves criticism given the inexact science of drafting.
Wilson is also very good at re-signing his own players, getting four of the team's top-six forwards to sign contracts widely regarded as below market value. He has at least one major coup in free agency in each of the last five season: Antti Niemi (2010), Manny Malhotra and Scott Nichol (2009), Rob Blake (2008), Jeremy Roenick (2007) and Mike Grier (2006).
Yet there have been seven other teams to win Lord Stanley's Cup and three more to win the Campbell Trophy as the best in the west over the Sharks. No matter how good you are over seven years, you cannot earn an "A" grade without at least a conference championship.
So where has Wilson gone wrong? Here are five moves that may have impeded a championship, in chronological order.