The San Jose Sharks got some shopping done early this season, acquiring defenseman Roman Polak and forward Nick Spaling from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. Stabilizing the defense corps was general manager Doug Wilson’s top priority coming into the trade deadline, and the addition of Polak crosses that off the list.
Still, the Sharks could look to add to their roster prior to the Feb. 29 cutoff. Wilson indicated as much following Monday’s move.
Wilson leaves open the possibility for more moves leading up to the deadline #SJSharks
— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) February 22, 2016
What are San Jose’s options? Who might the team be targeting? Let’s break it down.
Tight against the cap
According to generalfanager.com, the Sharks will have a projected $794,624 available in cap space on deadline day. That doesn’t leave them with a lot of wiggle room, so adding additional players without shipping any out is unlikely.
Patrick Marleau has been the subject of trade speculation all season, and the veteran forward carries the second-highest cap hit on the team at $6.7 million. San Jose would be better off keeping him for a playoff run, but if Wilson plans to acquire a high-salaried impact player then Marleau would almost certainly have to go the other way.
New York Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle could be a target, though a series of injuries to captain Ryan McDonagh has led many to believe that Yandle will stay put. Besides, with Polak now in the fold, the Sharks are likely done adding rearguards.
Trouble between the pipes
If there’s one hole in San Jose’s roster, it’s at the backup goalie position. Alex Stalock has struggled in net all season, winning just three of the 13 games he’s played in. The 28-year-old Minnesota native boasts a lowly .884 save percentage and a career-worst 2.94 goals-against average.
Stalock’s struggles have placed significant pressure on first-year starter Martin Jones, who ranks second in the league in starts with 50. Jones has been steady, but he’ll need rest between now and the playoffs. As such, a reliable backup netminder may be on Wilson’s shopping list.
Could the Sharks and Leafs complete another deal before Monday’s 3 p.m. EST deadline? Toronto’s goaltending duo of Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer are believed to be on the market. Neither of them have performed particularly well this season, though Reimer is enjoying one of the best campaigns of his career and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’d be an upgrade over Stalock and could likely be acquired at a reasonable price if San Jose decides to go down that path.
Other options in net include Colorado Avalanche goaltender Reto Berra, who continues to lose starts to Calvin Pickard and is firmly behind starter Semyon Varlamov on the depth chart. Berra, 29, is signed through next season at a manageable $1.45 million cap hit.
Adding up front
One possible, albeit unlikely, scenario could involve the Sharks acquiring additional offensive firepower. They haven’t received adequate secondary scoring from the likes of forwards Matt Nieto and Tommy Wingels, who have 15 points each this season.
There are a number of forwards up for grabs on the trade front, including Arizona Coyotes winger Mikkel Boedker. The pending unrestricted free agent has 38 points this season and is on pace to surpass the career-high 19 goals he potted in 2013-14. Boedker can play on either wing and would round out San Jose’s top nine nicely if the team can find a way to fit him in under the cap.
The Columbus Blue Jackets may be willing to accept a small return for veteran forward Scott Hartnell, whose contract could scare potential suitors away. The 33-year-old winger is signed through 2018-19 with a $4.75 million cap hit, but remains a solid top-six forward. In 59 games this season, Hartnell has chipped in 19 goals and 20 assists. If the Jackets were open to retaining some salary or taking back a contract in the deal, San Jose could benefit from adding the skilled veteran.
Some cheaper, more plausible options up front include Leafs winger P.A. Parenteau, Montreal Canadiens forward Dale Weise and Vancouver Canucks veteran Radim Vrbata.
If it ain’t broken…
There remains a strong possibility that the Sharks stick with what they have. Currently ranked third in the Pacific Division with a record of 32-21-6, San Jose is just four points back of the division-leading Los Angeles Kings. The Sharks have picked up points in eight of their last 10 games and continue to distance themselves from the fourth-place Coyotes.
Having already traded two high draft picks for veteran depth in Polak and Spaling, Wilson may decide to close up shop and keep his current roster intact.
Sam Kelly is an experienced sports writer with a passion for the game of hockey. He currently covers the San Jose Sharks for The Hockey Writers and is a production assistant at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. He’ll never forgive the Sharks for blowing a three-game series lead over the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the 2014 playoffs.