San Jose Sharks: Does a Stanley Cup Make Doug Wilson the Best GM Ever?

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer INovember 21, 2009

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 27:  Executive Vice President & General Manager Doug Wilson of the San Jose Sharks looks on during the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 27, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks are currently known as playoff "chokers" by the majority of NHL fans.

Every year for the past four seasons the Sharks are picked as a Stanley Cup favorite, but each year they fail to get past the second round.

However, you cannot fault their General Manager Doug Wilson. The guy has done everything in his power to create a winning formula and each year he makes a change or two, or three or four, in order to improve his team.

As fans, what more can we ask for?

Wilson has put together one of the most star-studded rosters the game has ever seen, but he hasn't neglected the importance of role players either.

If the Sharks go onto win the Stanley Cup this year, it just might cement Wilson's legacy as the best GM in the history of the NHL.

Perhaps some history buffs out there will throw out the names of GM's who put together the dynasties of the Montreal Canadiens and the Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers but nobody has made the type of trades Wilson has made over the last few seasons.

Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and Dany Heatley; as members of the Sharks, the trio has combined for 514 points.

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The seven players Wilson traded away to receive them: Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau, Brad Stuart, Matt Carle, Ty Wishart, Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo have combined for just 368 points.

Essentially, Wilson traded for the league's best set-up man, the league's best offensive defenseman and the league's second-best goal scorer while giving up next to nothing.

Not a single other GM in the history of the sport has made three steals of this magnitude in just a four year span.

But it's not just the trades that would make Wilson the best GM of all-time but his drafts and free-agent signings that are just as productive.

In fact, despite taking over the Sharks GM position just six years ago in 2003, all but four Sharks on the current roster were either drafted, signed or traded for by Wilson.

Only Patrick Marleau, Ryane Clowe, Evgeni Nabokov and Douglas Murray became Sharks due to the work of Wilson's predecessor Dean Lombardi.

Plus all four of those have since been given contract extensions by Wilson to stay in San Jose.

But the rest of the Sharks became Sharks for the very first time via Wilson's maneuvering.

While Wilson has made his most significant additions via trade, he has added gems to his lineup in a whole multitude of different ways.

The list of current Sharks acquired via trade by Wilson are as follows:

Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Dan Boyle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, (received as a Calgary Flames draft choice in the Miika Kiprusoff trade) Kent Huskins, and Jody Shelley

However, the majority of Wilson's roster has been put together through everything but trades.

Players Wilson has drafted using the team's original picks:

Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi, Logan Couture, Jamie McGinn, Derek Joslin, Frazer Mclaren, Steven Zalewski

Players Wilson picked up after they went undrafted: Jason Demers, Brad Staubitz, and Ryan Vesce.

And finally Wilson's free-agent signings: Rob Blake, Scott Nichol, Manny Malhotra, Jed Ortmeyer, and Benn Ferriero.

The Sharks currently have a major contributor on their roster from each of these groups. 

Wilson's undrafted signings are making an impact, his veteran free-agent signings are making an impact, his draft picks are making an impact and his trade acquisitions are making an impact.

As a GM, Wilson does not take anything for granted. He analyzes every aspect of his team as thoroughly as possible and looks to add elements to his team in every fashion imaginable.

He even made the correct move in firing Ron Wilson as head coach after the 2007-08 season.

The move wasn't necessary, the onus is on the players for not getting the job done. But with the way the Sharks were evolving after that season, a shake-up was needed as Ron Wilson had clearly worn out his welcome.

A year after Wilson made the coaching change, he faced arguably his toughest offseason as GM.

The Sharks had been upset in the first round of the playoffs after finishing the regular season as the top team in the NHL.

Sharks fans were calling for either Patrick Marleau or Evgeni Nabokov to be traded, and a big free-agent splash to be made.

Wilson could have very easily made a rash decision and made an unnecessary trade or throw excess money at a free-agent.

However, San Jose's GM let things come to him. He thoroughly completed the "autopsy" of his team and waited out the offseason for the best moves to identify themselves.

Instead of signing a big-time scorer like a Marian Gaborik, Martin Havlat or Marian Hossa, Wilson waited for the trade market to develop.

With the Ottawa Senators in a bind to trade the then disgruntled Dany Heatley, Wilson was able to seal the deal just before training camp started because Ottawa wanted him out.

The Senators were in the position where they needed a change more than the Sharks did and all Wilson had to do was reap the benefits.

After making his big move through the trade market, Wilson still wasn't done.

By taking the wait and see approach, Wilson was able to absolutely steal a Manny Malhotra as a free-agent in late September. Malhotra signed a one-year deal worth 700K.

Combined with veteran center Scott Nichol, who Wilson signed earlier in the offseason, the Sharks now had two premier face-off men to play primarily on their bottom two forward lines.

With these three primary additions, along with bringing in a few other free agent forwards like Benn Ferriero and Jed Ortmeyer, Wilson has created a Sharks team that has many thinking this year will finally be the year for San Jose.

If this current crop of Sharks can get over the hump and win the Stanley Cup, it would be hard to argue against Wilson as the best GM ever.

If this current crop of Sharks can win multiple Stanley Cups, then Wilson will become hands down the best GM ever.

His savvy, his patience, and his pure ability to do everything it takes to create a winner has made Sharks fans thankful for having such a wise hockey mind running the ship.

All that is left is for the players to solidify Wilson's genius by winning hockey's holy grail.

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