San Jose Sharks’ 2022 Trade Deadline Preview

The NHL Trade Deadline is right around the corner. Less than a week remains before teams will be locked from pursuing any trades for the remainder of the 2021-22 season. With this deadline rapidly approaching, the San Jose Sharks need to decide what their plan will be and whether or not any transactions need to be made before this offseason approaches.

Related: Sharks’ 2022 Free Agency Preview

Sharks fans and management seem to have different opinions on what direction the team should be heading in the future. While fans are insistent that a rebuild may be necessary, no one within the Sharks organization seems to share that sentiment. This season, general manager Doug Wilson tried to appease both parties by participating in a semi-retool, but it appears that the playoffs will still be out of reach for the Sharks. So will the team continue to attempt a retool, or will they give in to the rebuild at the trade deadline?

Going Full Rebuild Mode

One option the Sharks have for the trade deadline is to take on bad contracts from other teams for draft picks and prospects. The Arizona Coyotes largely employed this strategy during the last offseason, and they now have eight picks in the first two rounds of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Clearly, this strategy does wonders for boosting draft stock.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic San Jose Sharks
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Unfortunately, the Sharks have plenty of bad contracts already on their team. Contracts like Brent Burns, Marc-Eduard Vlasic, and debatably Logan Couture have are all projected to age poorly, and some of these already have. Only so much cap space can be dedicated to bad deals before the young players in need of a contract begin to look for pay raises somewhere else.

The Sharks have their first-round pick this year, but taking on a bad contract for another first-round pick would not be the worst idea in the world. The main issue they need to try and find a way to navigate is their cap space. Taking on bad contracts is a great way to rebuild, but if it comes at the expense of the future, the Sharks will need to be careful. Not to mention, there is a big chance the Sharks avoid the rebuild altogether and trade depth players for late-round picks at the trade deadline. Anything is possible with the current management.

Tomas Hertl’s Future

One of the lingering questions regarding the future of the Sharks is what will happen with Tomas Hertl. His contract ends this season, and no agreement on a contract extension has been made. While Hertl is a massive presence on the Sharks, there is no denying that trading him at the trade deadline could bring in an enormous return (from ‘Tomas Hertl, the Sharks and a potential trade: What he brings to a team, possible destinations and returns,’ The Athletic, 3/7/22).

Tomas Hertl San Jose Sharks
Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

However, while trading Hertl would allow the Sharks to regain a lot of assets if they’re planning on trying a retool, they should re-sign him at all costs. Market value is astronomically high for players like Hertl, and there is a reason for that. Players with the energy and passion that he has are rare to come by. He could be a massive asset to a Cup-contending team that is looking to put the nail in the coffin this season.

Related: Sharks Need Hertl as Next Captain

Regardless of what direction the Sharks seem to be heading, it would appear that Hertl will most likely stay a member of the team next season. He could be a massive piece to help the Sharks rebuild assets, but he is too important of a member to their core to move without the energy in the locker room shifting for the worse.

Time Is of the Essence

If the Sharks are interested in avoiding a rebuild, they are in a weird situation currently. They have a deep prospect pool, but they also have many aging players on long-term contracts. Their decisions during this trade deadline will broadly impact what happens with their roster in the coming years. Moreso than anything, they need to worry about running out of time.

William Eklund San Jose Sharks
William Eklund, San Jose Sharks (Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Right now, some players with less-than-stellar contracts are still tradeable. Burns, for example, still produces points despite a decline in defensive play. There will still be teams who want to grab a player like Burns before the bad outweighs the good. However, once these players no longer become moveable, that cap space will need to be split between the Sharks’ best players and those who are fading out.

Moves need to be made now to ensure that the Sharks’ future is secure. The team’s cap space will only shrink as time progresses, and that could eventually make signing the prospects difficult. They’re likely still many years away from contention, but that does not mean they can’t make moves now to contribute to that eventual success. The Sharks will likely make minimal moves at the 2022 trade deadline, but every move they make will be instrumental to the organization’s future.

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