San Jose Sharks' Offseason Is in a Familiar but Odd Standstill

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer IJuly 5, 2010

CHICAGO - MAY 21:  (L-R) Joe Thornton #19, Dany Heatley #15, Patrick Marleau #12 and Dan Boyle #12 of the San Jose Sharks react after the second period goal by Marleau while taking on the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 21, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

When it comes to making the big move to acquire a necessary talent, San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson has never been shy on pulling the trigger.

During the 2006-07 season, Wilson traded for power forward Bill Guerin at the deadline to bolster what in his mind was a top forward group in need of extra punch.

The following season Wilson traded for puck moving defenseman Brian Campbell because he felt his team needed more offense from the blue-line.

Now along with two first round picks, the players given up in these deals were Ville Nieminen, who despite being just 33 years old is already out of the NHL, and Steve Bernier, who has not lived up to his first round draft slot. Bernier's career high of 32 points was quite low for being drafted 16th overall in 2003 and he spent just one year in Buffalo before moving onto Vancouver and now Florida.

While the first round draft choices San Jose gave up could end up being quality players, the Sharks got plenty of value in return for their offerings. Sure, neither Guerin or Campbell signed extensions with the Sharks but both of them played excellent hockey in their short time by the Bay.

Therefore, given the information at hand, neither trade is as bad as certain fans like to claim. Since the Sharks' draft choices given up were late first round selections, it's safe to say that both trades were executed perfectly.

And when Campbell decided not to re-sign with the Sharks, Wilson went out and traded for an even better replacement in Dan Boyle over the offseason.

Bringing in Boyle was another big splash that has worked out quite nicely for San Jose. (Again, Guerin and Campbell didn't stay long but they were extremely valuable during their time in Northern California). Boyle, has also been extremely valuable for San Jose and fortunately this time around the Sharks have Boyle locked under contract.

Boyle has now spent two seasons as a Shark, (2008-09, 2009-10) and has been a vital cog to the organization.

Wilson hasn't stopped with the Boyle deal however, as prior to this past season he made another big offseason trade.

Despite great development in the likes of young forwards in Ryane Clowe, Devin Setoguchi, and Joe Pavelski, Wilson realized his team still didn't have that extra offensive punch that Guerin brought in '07.

Feeling this way, Wilson went out and traded for superstar winger Dany Heatley. While the Heater had an inconsistent postseason, he was remarkable during the 82 game season and is a key talent the Sharks need to win Stanley Cups.

These are our four big time headline trades. You know the ones that make the news on SportsCenter even though ESPN never talks about hockey? Yeah, those types of moves.

Oh, and I didn't even mention the trade to acquire Joe Thornton in 2005. Make that five headline trades.

Wilson has no fear.

That said, he has traded away some talented players in Matt Carle, and Milan Michalek who look to have long careers ahead of them in the NHL. And not only that, Carle looks to be a top-2 defenseman for the rest of his career and Michalek is a top-6 forward.

Those are the risks that teams take when trading for talent.Β  T they have to give up talent in return. Fortunately, Wilson has made a handful of steals (gaining more talent in a trade than giving up) throughout his tenure as GM.

Since Wilson is known to deal, it isn't a surprise that he has yet to make a big splash during this year's offseason.

Not filling the team's biggest hole in the first couple days of free agency is normal for Wilson.

Hence, this lull in offseason news isn't anything new for Sharks fans.

Yes, they signed a new goalie on the first day of free agency in Antero Niittymaki, but at $2 million dollars annually, Niittymaki isn't going to be the biggest move the Sharks make this offseason.

The biggest hole on this team is a top-4 defenseman. With Rob Blake retiring, the Sharks are in need of either another offensive top-4 defender or (what most fans prefer) a 25-30 point defenseman whose calling card is his defensive play.

However, the bad news is that the best available free agent defenseman have been signed and the only ones left available with top-4 potential have yet to live up to that billing.

Of course, the Sharks could go the trade route. As mentioned earlier, the Sharks are quite used to adding new players via trade.

But this season, who are the Sharks willing to give up? Normally the Sharks have some under-performing talent that they can afford to give up on but this offseason they don't have any of that.

Any trade for a top-4 defenseman would have to involve either Ryane Clowe or Devin Setoguchi and would that really be a benefit?

To lose either player without replacing them with another forward would be a set back for the Sharks.

Furthermore, any available free agent with the talent to replace either Clowe or Setoguchi wouldn't give the Sharks as much bang for their buck on that second scoring line.

Needless to say, if the Sharks trade for a top-4 defender, then they will be left with a gaping hole at forward.

If instead they choose to take a flier on one of the currently available defenseman, (who have top-4 potential) they will be taking a major risk. Who knows if the defender they sign actually lives up to that potential?

Either decision the Sharks make now is a bigger risk than it would have been to sign one of the better available free agent defenseman on day one of free agency.

So while not adding that marquee free agent right away is a familiar Shark tactic, it is puzzling why they didn't change things up this year.


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