Doug Wilson Due for a Deadline Splash

Nikolay Goldobin
Doug Wilson, Nikolay Goldobin, Todd McLellan (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Wilson Waiting in the Weeds?

With the way 2014-15 has gone for the San Jose Sharks, making a trade deadline splash probably isn’t the wisest move. While personnel decisions clearly show a Sharks team in limbo between winning now and building for the future, the latter should be the focus. Key injuries, slumping stars, and the same old unreliable postseason goaltender make it difficult to envision the Sharks breaking through this year. However, Sharks GM Doug Wilson is known for wheeling and dealing. In more recent years he has made his big trades during the summer (Dan Boyle 2008, Dany Heatley 2009, Brent Burns 2011). Previously though Wilson traded at the deadline for Bill Guerin in 2007 and Brian Campbell in 2008. Since acquiring Burns on draft day in 2011 Wilson has been rather quiet on the trade market. Picking up Raffi Torres at the 2013 deadline could be seen as a “splash” but basically Wilson has stayed out of the water since 2011. That said, he might just be due for his next cannonball before the deadline.

Nobody ever sees the Sharks’ big trades coming, that has been a staple of Wilson’s run as GM. He is widely considered one of the best at his position primarily because of his ability to swing deals in his favor. Considering he annually falls flat on his face in free agency, he has had to be terrific in the trade market to retool his squad and fix holes. They didn’t work out in a Stanley Cup but at the time in 2011, picking up Ian White was a terrific add and in 2012 Dominic Moore was a needed role player. These certainly weren’t splashes but further evidence that Wilson has made a number of quality pickups over the years. This season the Sharks are clearly in need of a shot in the arm to their offense. With Brent Burns returned to the blue-line the Sharks haven’t replaced the gaping hole he left in the top-six. Given the major organizational preference to keep him on defense, acquiring a top line scoring winger would be the preferred target (although as you’ll see below another center could work).

Non-Rental Options

In recent weeks we took a look at some possible pending free agent trade options that would be splashes. What about non rentals? Wilson has been adamant about not wanting to trade young players but perhaps trading young players for established young players is a possibility. Everyone knows about the two young wingers up in Edmonton and the trade rumors swirling around them. Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle would each cost an arm and a leg but it wouldn’t be impossible for Wilson to swing something. The Sharks have a top defense prospect in Mirco Mueller and a top forward prospect in Nikolay Goldobin prime to make big impacts next season. Trading both is highly unlikely though and the Oilers are best served waiting to make that kind of move come the summer time.

Scott Hartnell (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
Scott Hartnell (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In reality, there is little hope for Sharks fans to see Hall or Eberle come to town. The Sharks have top prospects but other teams have more to offer up and can do so without having to empty their proverbial farm. A more likely deadline splash for the Sharks could see them going for a much older target but in the case should also be much cheaper. Fair or not, the Sharks have always had a label of being a team you could push around. Well, a veteran top six option that brings plenty of nasty is Columbus Blue Jackets’ winger Scott Hartnell. A surprising trade last offseason sent Hartnell from Philadelphia to Columbus. The Blue Jackets have had a down year after making the playoffs a year ago. Hartnell is a guy that could help them in the immediate years but chances are they are still a few years away from making a real run. If they could turn the 32-year-old winger into some help for the future, that would be a wise move. For the Sharks if they could get a top-six player under contract without having to give up their marquee prospects, then it would be feasible. Perhaps young players with potential like Barclay Goodrow and Chris Tierney along with a second round pick would be fair return for a guy like Hartnell. That is definitely more than R. J. Umberger would have fetched Columbus.

Another more realistic option would be to go after Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly. Despite losing Paul Stastny to free agency last offseason, rumors have the Avalanche willing to part ways with another top center. O’Reilly is known for a strong two way game and could slide in perfectly to the third line center spot that the Sharks struggle with. San Jose seems completely against moving Pavelski back to that spot (where he has crushed opponents in recent years), so trading for O’Reilly would make sense. While O’Reilly hasn’t been the same offensive force over his career as Hall or Eberle, he has scored at .73 points per game rate over the previous three seasons. Coming into 2014-15, O’Reilly had scored 139 points in 190 games from 2011-12 through 2013-14. The price tag would still be high but should be considerably cheaper than Hall. While the Sharks would probably have to give up top prospects Mirco Mueller, Nikolay Goldobin and a first for Hall, perhaps Matt Nieto and a first would do the trick for O’Reilly. The Avalanche center doesn’t turn 24 until February and is under contract for next season. San Jose would get the impact player they need up front, while Nieto’s speed should fit in quite well with Colorado speedsters Matt Duchene and Nathan Mackinnon.

Ryan O'Reilly Avalanche
Ryan O’Reilly  (Icon SMI)

Melker Karlsson—Joe Thornton—Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau—Logan Couture—Tommy Wingels

Tomas Hertl—Ryan O’Reilly—Tyler Kennedy

James Sheppard—Andrew Desjardins—Barclay Goodrow

If Wingels can come back healthy for the playoffs, these forward lines could do some serious damage. However, giving up a first round pick in a deep draft with O’Reilly possibly wanting to test the UFA market in 2016 is a bit risky. Less risky than a half season rental but with injuries, a struggling blue-line, a snake bit Patrick Marleau, and no reliable postseason goaltender, win now moves just don’t make a whole lot of sense for Team Teal. If guys like Justin Braun, Brenden Dillon, and Burns were all healthy and playing well defensively, then it would make more sense. But it is hard to imagine Antti Niemi backstopping a team this shaky defensively through four rounds. After all he has only put together two good series in a row once in his career. That was the 2013 lockout shortened season when he was a Vezina candidate. Outside of that, he has been downright awful in the playoffs. Even when he won the Stanley Cup with Chicago, he was only good in one series (against the Sharks). In 2011, he was one out of three good series, 2012 zero for one, and last year he was zero for one.

Every so often Wilson is good for a splash in the trade market and it has been a few years since the draft day cannonball that was Brent Burns. Personally, this season doesn’t feel like the right time for Wilson to make a big trade but since we never see his deals coming, perhaps this is the calm right before the storm.

21 thoughts on “Doug Wilson Due for a Deadline Splash”

  1. I was at the first sharks home game ever! I have been to EVERY home playoff game . I was at the Joe Louis arena when Jamie Baker won it in game 7 proudly wearing my Pat Faloon jersey! I have watched games on the glass, in the nose bleeds, and in the players suite! I have seen hundreds of games and have watched this team year after year come close but not win it all.
    Doug Wilsons time is over…period. The Todd Mclellan experiment was a failure! This team is one very good Dman away from being a serious contender so talent is not the problem. The real problem lies with the disconnect in between the players and coach—- and losing to LA last year was the cherry on top!
    The sharks this year play tough against tough teams, and lousy against the bottom feeders…… this is not a sign of a motivated team, or a team playing like they still believe in the system.

    If the sharks can somehow unload Niemis massive contract and make a deal for a very good Dman that would be a good start to helping the weak link in the roster. Unloading niemis 5.5 mil a yr cap hit will allow us to go and get an elite Dman…. and burns can go back to being the wing on the top line and Pavs can center the third line. The sharks are a MUCH better offensive team when pavs is the 3/C- Period!

    Hopefully Torres can come back in tikme for the postseason but at this rate it looks like he will never be back!

  2. Thanks for the read Andrew. Wilson certainly has his team in a pickle, in a no mans land. The right decision would be to stay the course and keep building through the draft. But I do think that Wilson blew it this offseason to reload the team for a Cup run.

    Essentially he is burning the prime years (27-29) of Pavelski, Vlasic and Burns to be a “tomorrow team”. And if he really wanted to be a tomorrow team he would’ve unloaded at least 2 of the 3 players listed above, who knows, it could still happen this summer at the draft.

    Wilson now has to mortgage the future yet again if he wants to make a statement in the playoffs this year. I truly think they are more than a top 6 winger from making it to the Cup final. The biggest problem is the guy in goal. Niemi is not going to win you a cup, unless you have Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook back on defense. Could Stalock get the job done? Probably not. But if the Sharks do decide to stay put, I would consider letting Stalock take the reigns after you trade Niemi at the deadline. The worst that could happen is you fall out of playoff contention, get a higher draft pick and pick up assets on the way. If anything Wilson should do is find another high caliber prospect goaltender (Subban, Gibson, Vasilevskiy) who is stuck in the pipeline behind number ones.

  3. @ sharksfan24

    I’ve followed the Sharks since they played at the Cow Palace.

    And the root problem is in your own sentence:

    “To be accurate Doug Wilson has always been employed by the Sharks either as a player or someone in the front office.”

    Players and coaches have come to the Sharks and left to go on to win one or more Stanley Cup rings, while Doug continues to fail fail fail fail.

    Doug’s time is up – he is the root cause of the lack of success (when he was a player and opted out of wearing a helmet and as a GM in general).

    And Drew Remenda has left or been asked to leave the San Jose broadcast both twice for being honest about it.

    Doug, is DONE.

  4. It is so silly ro keep hearing how much better off the sharks would be with Pavelski on third line. He is and has been our best player and leading scorer… I would rather here us putting Thornton Marleau or Couture on third line center, although all of them are top six guys so I wouldnt even support that at all but really the Pavelski stuff needs to stop it is completely unrealistic and dumb. Look at his points when Thornton was injured still killed it. Besides that great article cant wait to see what Wilson comes up with, could look into getting Nick Foligno this off season would be awesome! Wilson is a great GM!!!!

  5. The problem with the Wilson trades that everybody is debating here is not that they were necessarily bad trades but because they didn’t result in the desired Cup Finals appearances (much less a championship) they ultimately left the Shark’s farm system barren due to the trading of draft picks to acquire said players.

    The Sharks have paid the price the last 3 or 4 seasons or so by having almost no players come up through their system and make a real impact on the big club. Only in the last year or so have we finally started to see some talent come through the system and have an impact due to the fact that Wilson finally did stop making trades at the deadline a couple of years ago. I hope that Wilson doesn’t give up any draft picks this year in a deadline move designed to do nothing more than possibly squeak into the playoffs and save his job yet again.

    Fire Wilson…please.

  6. Erik,

    To be accurate Doug Wilson has always been employed by the Sharks either as a player or someone in the front office. When Pavs was drafted he was NOT the General Manager and we both know that. Tim Burke is and always has been in scouting or been the director of scouting for the Sharks. However it is the General Manager who ultimately decides which players to pick. Wilson has allowed Burke to make picks, while Lombardi didn’t and instead used Bruke’s information to make determinations. As for the skills of Hertl and Nieto, apparently the coaching staff disagrees with you on Hertl, as for Nieto if being fast is a skill then he has it, but then again so did Torrey Mitchell. If you can’t score goals or pass out assists on a regular basis then your basically Mitchell or any number of other players in the league with speed. I made no mention of drafting a Norris Type defenseman in the first round, however I did say that Wilson’s first round picks of defenseman has been a disaster. While teams like Chicago, Los Angeles and Anahiem have had great success with drafting defenseman’s, Wilson claim to fame is Marc Edouard Vlasic a stay at home, none physical defenseman, with limited offensive skills. He’s a decent #2 defenseman on most teams, but he’s not a number one lacking any real offensive threat, he’s not good on the PP (but has gotten better), provides no physical play and gets pushed from in front of the net alot. He’s an outstanding positional defensemen. But not that type teams win Stanley Cups with as their top d player. Braun is a bust who has regressed Burns was traded for, Hannan was already here, and the rest of the crops are just journeymen

    • @Sharksfan24

      I gave you the dates of Doug’s appointment to the GM position and Pavs draft date, so how can you tell me he was not the GM? Unless I can’t count the months of the year right he clearly was the GM for 1 month before the draft, no?

      “Pavs was drafted On June 22nd, 2003 in the 7th round and Doug WIlson was employed by the Sharks May 13th, 2003” Via Wikipedia.

      And how are you privy to who makes the draft picks vs. who actually has the final say so? Unless you’re actually in the organization i’m never going to take a fan’s word for it.

      As for your comment’s on drafting defensemen “As for defense everyone agrees the Sharks biggest need is the same thing they needed when Wilson took over that being a top tier Norris type defenseman. Wilsons top pick draft choices for defenseman have failed miserably. Name the best defenseman drafted by Wilson in the first round.” You sure implied that drafting a Norris defenceman (or high quality d-man) is tied to higher drafting were you not?

      The problem is less about drafting and more about how players our developed in the system, Hertl may have been rushed to quickly to the NHL as a result you’ll see less consistency. I also happen to think that the injury has definitely affected him mentally, similar to Rick Nash after his first concussion. The draft picks of Nieto and Hertl have yielded two very promising prospects who have been forced into a top role early because of system depth. Braun is a plus player, 4th on the team in fact while logging 20+ mins of TOI, who is on track for a career year so if thats regression I’ll take it anyday of the week. Your arguments have holes all over the place, so when you get THE FACTS STRAIGHT I’ll argue with you, till then have fun trolling.

  7. Andrew, nice article. I would have to say that I see the Sharks holding on to the top D prospects in the system because their ranks are a little thin. I also don’t see them parting with Nieto or Goldobin the reason being is that the “Team Philosophy” has become more about speed and less about overall size. Also as far as speed is concerned Nieto is the second fastest skater besides Patty so i really don’t see them moving that out. Right now I think the organization is looking at having Tomas Hertl as the 2\3 center for the next 2-3 years and having James Sheppard being the 3/4 center. If Wilson is really committed to young guns strategy it would seem like the forwards are set, with the return of Brown and Wingles from injury in the next month a log jam of players at forward would exist. Which is why I was concerned with the Scott signing (plus other reasons), with Karlsson making the team it seems we have an excess at forward.

    Right now I see this team looking for another puck-moving D-man in the ilk of Oliver-Ekman Larsson or Rundblad in Chicago (we are not getting them but as an example). I could see them only moving their top pick if they get a sure fire d-prospect or young established defenceman. I would start looking at some of the top d-prospects from a Pittsburg or Boston and try to trade TK and a lower pick for one. But yeah I would say the priority is D before any forward.

  8. Your can clearly state that the trades for White, Winnik and Moore were 3 of Wilsons worst blunders trading. As for drafting Pavelski was drafted by Lombardi, Braun is clearly over rated while Hertl and Neto are bottom 6 players. Not a single player drafted by Wilson is a top 3 player on Anahiem or Chicago, and Vlasic is not a top 2 player on La, Ana, Chi or a lot of teams. You missed my point take out Pavelski and Marelau neither drafted by Wilson, and Thornton acquired via trade in Dws first year and what do you have? Name your top 6 forwards. As for defense everyone agrees the Sharks biggest need is the same thing they needed when Wilson took over that being a top tier Norris type defenseman. Wilsons top pick draft choices for defenseman have failed miserably. Name the best defenseman drafted by Wilson in the first round.

    • Ian White was terrific during 2011, Winnik is a solid versatile winger and Moore is a tremendous skater, they didnt work out but that doesnt make them blunders. And wow your criticisms of vlasic not being a top 2 player on LA? Congrats on finding a way to knock one of the best dmen in the league.

    • GP get your facts straight, Pavs was drafted On June 22nd 2003 in the 7th round and Doug WIlson was employed by the Sharks May 13th 2003. Also the Director of Scouting was Tim Burke and still is Tim Burke so if you have a problem with his first round draft picks direct it to him. He is the one that sets up the Draft Board and directs the scouting department. As for Nieto and Hertl both have to much skill to be considered 3rd/4th line talent (or maybe you forgot last year?). Finally not all Norris D-men are not drafted in the 1st round, Nick Lidstrom, Chara, Shea Weber were all drafted in later rounds (Kieth, Suter being a major an exception and look how well Mike Green and Erik Johnson have played out). Defencemen have a much longer development time and require a strong farm system to actualize their talent, thats why Larry Robinson will help with development.

  9. Wilson said the Sharks are a tomorrow team and are looking to get younger… I don’t see how that works to sign a 32yo Scott Hartnell. Wilson obviously doesn’t want to move picks or prospects. As for a deal for O’Reilly, why would the Sharks want to pick up yet another center? Half the current forwards are centers. The problem this season, for the most part, hasn’t been scoring. The problem has been the Sharks D. Vlasic is a stud, but Burns leads the team in the minus category, Dillon hasn’t found a rhythm, Braun has completely regressed while getting a massive contract, and Irwin and Hannan have been pylons. Why have we not seen more of Tennyson or any of Fedun? As for Wilson’s biggest blunder as of late, it was not working out a good trade for Niemi last season.

    • picking up another center means Pavelski can remain at the wing 100% of the time and the team would still have depth.

    • Actually O’Reilly plays both center and wing. Last year, his most productive season, was spent on Duchene’s left side.

      With that said, no way the Avalanche let him go for a third line winger and a late first rounder when the team needs are on defense.

  10. The last Wilson in-season trade that came out in his favor was the Joe Thornton trade. In fact with maybe the exception of the Burns trade one could say every trade sans Thornton, Boyle and Burns has come out in the other gms favor.

    As for wish to acquire good young players, Wilson has pubically stated he not trading draft picks and not a single prospect currently in our system would bring anything remotely close to what we really need. Being honest we don’t have a single forward who would be considered a top line forward nor a top 1 or 2 defenseman in our system. Your dreaming like most Sharks fans if you think Wilson has done a great job drafting.

    • Campbell, Guerin, Ian White, Dom Moore, Dan Winnik and Raffi Torres were all quality players brought in mid year. Lots of people argue the Mcginn/winnik/galiardi deal was terrible but it is not as if McGinn has become a consistent 20 goal scorer. If the Sharks havent done a great job drafting than how have they been this good this long? They strike out repeatedly in free agency. Couture, Vlasic, Pavelski, Braun, Wingels, Nieto, Hertl, all drafted by the team.

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