Only about a week is left before the trade deadline on Feb. 24. Given that the San Jose Sharks are 10 points out of the final wild card spot in the Western Conference and with injuries to centers Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, and more recently defenseman Erik Karlsson, the Sharks should be sellers.
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Consideration on which players could be traded include: whether they are unrestricted free agents (UFA) at the end of the season, their cap hit, whether the Sharks would want to re-sign them, whether they have a no-movement clause, and, of course, will they add value to the team they are joining.
With Hertl and Karlsson out for the season, now placed on long-term injury reserve, $17.125 million has been freed up in the Sharks’ cap space. In a trade deadline deal, San Jose will be able to take on contracts that expire at the end of the 2019-20 season or eat some of the 2019-20 salary of a player they move.
The Sharks are without their 2020 first-round draft pick that was traded to the Ottawa Senators in the Karlsson deal of Sept. 2018. Any draft picks that the Sharks can acquire at the deadline will help build their farm system. Let’s take a look at which Sharks have the greatest chance of being traded.
The most rumored about Shark is Dillon. Playoff teams covet tough, solid, stay-at-home defensemen and Dillon fits that bill. The 29-year-old becomes a UFA when his $3.27 million cap hit expires at the end of this season.
The Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, and Winnipeg Jets have been rumored to be landing spots for Dillon over the last two weeks. Now, the Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, and St. Louis Blues have been added to the list due to injury or illness.
Dillon is leading the Sharks with 173 hits to go along with 83 penalty minutes. It’s only a matter of time before a team makes a deal to acquire this left-shot defenseman.
The 30-year-old netminder could be the next to go. Dell has performed well since interim head coach Bob Boughner took over on Dec. 11, 2019. Dell is 12-11-2 with 2.85 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage this season.
Now would be a good time for the Sharks to change their goalie situation. Since the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired goalie Jack Campbell from the Los Angeles Kings last week, the number of potential suitors of Dell has been reduced by one. Some teams that might be interested include the Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, and Nashville Predators.
Using Dell down the stretch without re-signing him is not a viable option. He is likely at his peak playing performance this season. Of course, there is no guarantee that he can put up numbers like these in a full-time starting role next season.
If the Sharks want to rebuild, trading Dell at his age and getting some assets in return would be their best option. General manager, Doug Wilson needs to strike while the goalie is hot. Dell’s value has never higher.
Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau
Trading Shark legends Thornton and Marleau may not be a popular decision. However, if Wilson can move them, he probably should do it for the long-term benefit of the organization. Both Thornton and Marleau are 40 years old and will become UFAs at the end of the season.
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Thornton has a no-movement clause in his contract that carries a $2 million cap hit. Speculation suggests he is only interested in moving to a legitimate Stanley Cup contender or not at all.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins have been rumored as potential landing places for “Jumbo”. Thornton, of course, played eight seasons in Boston after being selected first overall by the Bruins in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.
Marleau carries a $700,000 cap hit. That price tag and the lack of a no-movement clause may make him easier to move. However, Wilson would probably respect Marleau’s 18 years with the organization and not send him anywhere he doesn’t want to go.
This season, Thornton has scored two goals with 22 assists in 57 games and a 15:10 average time-on-ice (ATOI), while Marleau has 10 goals with 10 assists in 53 games and 15:36 ATOI. Both have solid numbers for the third or fourth line on a playoff team, and both would bring an unequaled veteran presence.
Simek won’t bring in much by way of return. However, the 27-year-old carries just a tiny cap hit of $675,000 and he is nearing the end of a three-year contract, signed with the Sharks coming out of the Czech Republic.
Simek has a goal and six assists in 35 games in 15:54 ATOI. At this point, a lot depends on what the Sharks can get for him. San Jose may need his warm body on the ice after Karlsson’s injury.
Tim Heed will fill EK65’s spot in the lineup until Dalton Prout returns from injured reserve. Heed, age 29, has played in 25 games this season with one assist in 11:27 ATOI.
Jacob Middleton, 24, has already been activated from the San Jose Barracuda to help fill in as well. Middleton was a seventh-round draft pick (210th overall) by the Los Angeles Kings in 2014 and has played 7:49 ATOI in four games this season for the Sharks.
Melker has been disappointing in 2019-20 with the worst point production of his six seasons as a Shark. He played his best game of the season on Valentine’s Day against the Winnipeg Jets, scoring only his fourth goal. San Jose hopes that game will boost his value to potential suitors.
Karlsson only carries a $925,000 cap hit and has been playing on the Sharks’ fourth line most of this season. Moving the 29-year-old would free up a spot in the lineup to give forward prospects like Maxim Letunov more of an opportunity to show what they can do.
This final week before the trade deadline should be interesting. San Jose can and should make some significant moves to work toward what is best for the future of the organization.
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