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Sit this one out Doug
Doing nothing is the Sharks best bet
2/27/15 - By Ryan Hall -

Here we go again. The Trade Deadline is just around the corner, and the league is whipping itself into a flurry of activity. Teams are busy overpaying for rental players that they are convinced will help them win the Stanley Cup; or at least ensure they book a spot in the post-season dance. As the transactions pile up, some teams will inevitably come out the winners while others are marked as losers; but the truth is that 99% of all the moves made will have zero impact on who wins hockey's greatest championship.

Still, sometimes it is simply appearances that must be maintained, as it can be hard for a fan base to stomach a management team that does nothing. As a general rule fans either want their GM to be a buyers or a seller, as standing pat seems to be an indication of weakness - or even worse: incompetence.

But is that really the case?

Let's consider the San Jose Sharks for a moment, our erstwhile club that finds itself right on the cusp of the playoff bubble. As of this writing the Sharks are a hard team to figure out, and with numerous assets they could use be 'sellers' OR a handful of attractive prospects that could be packaged if they decide to be 'buyers'. The question is, which is the best path to take?

Historically, the Sharks have been cautious buyers, with General Manager Doug Wilson preferring to mostly abstain from making deadline deals due to the inflated asking prices for marginal upgrades. It's hard to fault that decision, as managing resources is the prime consideration a GM; and that includes knowing when you simply can't afford to make a move.

However, this year is different as San Jose is still looking to punch their playoff card. As a result, there is added pressure to make moves that will get the team into the post-season, where they can have yet another chance to contend for the Stanley Cup. While this seems attractive, lost in the mix is that the Sharks are at least 3 moves away from being a truly dangerous postseason team, needing to bring in 1 Top 4 Defensemen and 2 Top 6 Forwards (or 2 Top 4 D-men and 1 Top 6 Forward if Brent Burns is moved back to the Wing). That is going to cost a lot to accomplish, and might completely run the prospect and draft pick pipelines dry.

Conversely, with the Sharks not a sure-fire contender, there is the argument that the team should move some of its pieces to capitalize on the trade market frenzy. Surely players like Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Anti Niemi, Scott Hannan, etc. would fetch a good return from clubs looking to make a run at the Cup. This could help expedite a rebuilding process, and since San Jose doesn't have the look of a serious challenger this season, what would the club really by losing? Still, trading known commodities isn't an exact science; and that doesn't even take into account the difficulty of getting fair value for the current assets.

With all of this in mind, I would like to suggest that the best course of action is to drive everyone crazy and do nothing. Not a thing. Sit it all out.

Why?

Whether we like to admit it or not, San Jose is in the middle of a transition phase, as they move away from being a Thornton and Marleau centered team towards a younger model. Players such as Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, and Melkar Karlsson are only the first wave of this process, with Mirco Mueller, Matt Tennyson, Chris Tierney, and Nikolay Goldobin (among others) still honing their craft at various development levels. These players are obviously not ready for prime time roles yet, and will need to be mentored by veterans who know how to play - and win - and the NHL level. As such, though it might hurt in the short term, it would serve the best interests of the club to hold off right now on moving too many of the core pieces out.

By doing this Doug Wilson can help shelter his younger players for another season, as most teams will still need to focus their main defensive attention on Jumbo Joe and Patty. Not only will this mean easier match-ups for the rest of the team, but with even marginal forward progression by the greenhorns the Sharks should be back contending for a playoff position next year. At that point it should be much clearer if the prospect pool is going to pan out, and a logical succession plan can be enacted if more assets are needed.

After all, it's not like the Trade Deadline stupidity is going away any time soon.


Contact Ryan at at ryanhall@letsgosharks.com




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