The San Jose Sharks are currently tied for second place in the Pacific division. That sentence alone would make many think San Jose will be buyers come the trade deadline. However, the Sharks are a mere four points up on fifth place Calgary who they host tonight in San Jose. The Flames also have a game in hand. Given the bizarre offseason in San Jose last summer, the Sharks may in fact forego adding pieces for the stretch run and instead sell off their veteran pieces who may not fit into the long term plans. Without further ado, here are the five Sharks most likely to be traded by the March 2nd deadline.
5. Andrew Desjardins
Fourth line center Andrew Desjardins could be a nice addition to a contender looking for a reliable depth centerman. Desjardins is a tremendous face-off guy over his career. This season he is actually a fraction of a percent below 50 but is a solid 53.5% for his career. The 28-year-old only has four points on the season but despite never playing with good linemates, the Ontario native has twice posted 17 point seasons in four years in the league. Desjardins would be a cheap option, making just $750K and is set to become an unrestricted free agent. All of a sudden with Tomas Hertl fitting in nicely as the fourth line center for the Sharks, Desjardins now could become expendable. While he is a capable winger, and San Jose may want to keep him around for depth, he could be moved for a third or fourth round pick.
4. Antti Niemi
It is unclear just how hard the Sharks have looked into trading Antti Niemi, but they may have missed their chance. Earlier in the season, the Minnesota Wild looked like a perfect destination for Niemi but the Wild have nearly fallen out of the playoff race completely. There simply aren’t many teams out there looking for a rental goaltender. Niemi would be higher on this list if there were more viable destinations. While he isn’t setting the league on fire, the 31-year-old Niemi is a reliable work horse who teams can rely on game in and game out during the regular season.
That said, Niemi hasn’t gotten it done in the playoffs for San Jose and one would think the Sharks may move on without him next season. If the Sharks aren’t able to find a trade partner by the deadline, and aren’t able to re-sign him in the offseason, it will certainly have been a missed opportunity to get value in return.
3. Scott Hannan
While veteran defenseman Scott Hannan is at the very tail end of his career, he could still provide a team value as an emergency defenseman in case injuries take a toll. While he is just a fraction of what he used to be, he has for the most part been reliable in his own zone, with a relatively low GA/60 all season. Teams could do a whole lot worse for a depth defenseman that isn’t in the lineup on a regular basis. Perhaps a team would be interested in parting ways with a fifth or sixth round draft pick for that blue-line experience.
2. Tyler Kennedy
For some reason, Pittsburgh Penguins playoff hero Tyler Kennedy is disliked by many. However, not only was he a regular contributor over many seasons with the Penguins but after struggling in his first year out west, he is once again looking strong. Despite battling multiple injuries this year, Kennedy has been excellent at driving possession. A terrific neutral zone player (a trait lost on many hockey followers), Kennedy uses his speed and dangling ability to get around defenders. Where he goes wrong is that he is a below average finisher but creating chances and not scoring is far better than giving up chances at the other end. In 15 games this year Kennedy has six points and is a plus-6 with 35 shots on goal while averaging 11:15 per game in ice time. Given his dismal season last year, Kennedy’s stock has probably not recovered to where the Sharks gave up a second round draft pick to acquire him. However, given his strong play this season, it is possibly the Sharks could package him and a third round pick for a second round pick. Kennedy is making $2.35 million but as a rental, that is super cheap for any team looking to add scoring depth for a stretch run.
1. James Sheppard
After not panning out as a ninth overall selection by the Minnesota Wild in 2006, James Sheppard has since established himself as a solid bottom-six player for the Sharks. Sheppard is only making $1.3 million and like his four teammates above, is set to be an unrestricted free agent. Still only 26-years-old, Sheppard has the versatility to play both the wing and the center position. While he has been far worse in the circle over his career than Desjardins, Sheppard is actually having a better year this season. Sheppard currently comes in at 51.5%, a considerable improvement. If a team is looking for a complementary piece, Sheppard could develop into a consistent 30 point winger. He is only listed at 6’1″ 215, but he plays like he is 6’2″ 220. He is strong along the boards and like Kennedy has good speed and shiftiness through the neutral zone. While not a great finisher, Sheppard be an effective player on multiple lines, kind of like a slightly younger Daniel Winnik. Conversely to Kennedy, Sheppard’s reputation seems to be on the rise and could fetch a second round pick.
Leave a comment below on which of these Sharks players you would most want for your favorite club by the deadline!