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Doug Wilson Overpaid
Roster is Now Over-Made
2/23/16 - By Zach Bodenstein -

On Monday morning, The San Jose Sharks hooked up with the Toronto Maple Leafs for a five-piece deal that brought rugged blueliner Roman Polak and underrated speedster Nick Spaling to San Jose in exchange for the contract of Raffi Torres, a second-round pick in 2017, and a second-round pick in 2018. Most are overreacting to Doug Wilson perhaps giving Toronto too much in the midst of their rebuild, but the move was one that had to be made and will pay dividends come playoff time.

An underrated part of this deal on San Jose's end is to unload the contract of Torres, as he has suffered multiple setbacks recently and it is doubtful that he will play in the NHL again, but he remains with the Barracuda, the Sharks' AHL affiliate. Torres was making more than $2 million this year before he inevitably departs for free agency next year, when his career may finally end.

Doug Wilson recently told the media that giving the picks in later years is big because, "It gives us ample time to replenish those picks" via @CraigCustance on Twitter. Second-round picks are valuable, and Doug Wilson has questionably thrown them away over the years for players who were not fits on the team, but this time is different.

It's a fair assessment that the Sharks have never had six solid defensemen in their lineup that they can role, and play all roles in terms of versatility. The Sharks have that now, with a third-pairing of Brenden Dillon and Roman Polak, they have two guys whom are physical, block a ton of shots, can penalty kill, and take some tough minutes away from Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Polak averaged almost 20:00 minutes a game and played against some of the top competition on other clubs, while posting a plus-eight rating on hockey's worst team.

Polak is fifth in the NHL with 220 hits via Yahoo! Sports. He is the guy that the Sharks needed, and they pounced on him before teams like Chicago, LA, Anaheim, and Dallas could, teams that needed Polak and will challenge the Sharks for the Western Conference title this season. In a seller's market, where guys far worse than Polak will be going for higher prices, this is essentially a home run deal for Doug Wilson with his team in win-now mode and in the best shape that they've been in years. The hole has been plugged on the back end with the acquisition of Polak, and it will improve the penalty kill as well as Jones' play with six solid defensemen in front of him, rather than five and benching the sixth man for the better part of every third period.

With the main acquisition being Polak, do not let Nick Spaling fool you as a throw-in to this deal. Spaling did not get many opportunities to produce in Toronto like he did in Nashville and Pittsburgh, but now he is projected to play alongside red-hot Logan Couture and the puck wizard in Joonas Donskoi. As all Sharks forwards are, he is versatile, with the ability to shoot, play fast, physical, take draws, and kill penalties, Spaling seems to be a great fit for the roster.

He is a very physical player that could help the scoring depth on the bottom-six despite its surge, and can help Tommy Wingels refocus his offensive game, bumping him down to the fourth line. Spaling is a clear upgrade over Zubrus, as the only thing he does not possess that favours him over Zubrus is the experience, but the Sharks contain plenty of that in their current lineup. The Sharks are one of hockey's only teams that can effectively role four lines, with the best depth up the middle in hockey, and six solid defensemen, all containing versatility.

While the two picks may sting the Sharks later, the reality is that this may be their best shot at Lord Stanley's mug, with scoring from everybody, the best hockey of Joe Thornton's last years, the depth, speed, size, offense, goaltending, you name it. Wilson pulled the trigger on Polak and Spaling before his competition could, as Anaheim and LA have already beefed up with trades earlier this season.

The departure of Torres' contract could also help bring in a backup goalie to limit Martin Jones' workload down the stretch with the futile play of Alex Stalock this season. This is arguably the deepest roster that the Sharks have ever had, and it is built for the playoffs. There is still less than a week until the deadline, but this trade makes the Sharks a much better team by filling their needed holes at a fair price in a seller's market.

Here's how the Sharks should line up when they are healthy:

Hertl-Thornton-Pavelski

Nieto-Marleau-Ward

Spaling-Couture-Donskoi

Wingels-Tierney-Karlsson

Vlasic-Braun

Martin-Burns

Dillon-Polak

Jones

Stalock


Contact Ryan at at zachbodenstein@letsgosharks.com



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