The 2017 NHL trade deadline is fast approaching, which means it’s time for general manager Doug Wilson to make his final roster decisions for the season. The San Jose Sharks trade deadline needs isn’t cut and dry and the Sharks can do several things or even decide to stand pat. We’ll take a look at the Sharks forward, defenseman, and goalie situations and what they could change before the deadline.
The Sharks have might just have the deepest forward group in their history to work with. They’re lead by the usual suspects Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, and Logan Couture. Add to that a supporting cast of Tomas Hertl, Chris Tierney, and Joel Ward and a group of youngsters lead by Kevin Labanc and the Sharks have one of the best forward groups in the league. While some forwards, such as Mikkel Boedker, haven’t lived up to expectations their forward situation is deep enough to make up for it. The biggest question mark has been their fourth line, which has been a very mixed bag throughout the season with differing constellations. Surprisingly to many, Michael Haley has gotten a lot of playing time despite posting the poorest possession numbers among the main Sharks, and young prospects such as Ryan Carpenter posting better numbers in limited time.
With all the options with their AHL affiliate, and what seems to be a poor buyers market this year, it’s hard to see Wilson doing much in terms of acquiring depth forwards. There also doesn’t seem to be many depth forwards who would provide much more than a Carpenter, Timo Meier or Daniel O’Regan.
If anything it seems like the Sharks might look for a blockbuster trade. With the rumored availability of Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene and their long-term contracts, perhaps that is what the Sharks will and should be looking at. Those players wouldn’t come cheap, but the Sharks might be willing to give up a prospect and draft pick for the long-term services of such players. Especially with a need to soon get younger, considering the ages of Thornton and Marleau.
The Sharks blueline is as deep and solid as it’s ever been, and it seems unlikely that much will change. Brent Burns is having one of the best offensive seasons for a defenseman in recent history, Marc-Edouard Vlasic is still a high-end shutdown defenseman, and David Schlemko and Brendan Dillon have formed a very solid third pairing. They also have Dylan DeMelo ready to jump in in case of injury. DeMelo would be good enough to be a sixth defenseman on several teams in the league.
Should it come down to it, the Sharks also have Tim Heed in the minors. Heed has only played one NHL game, but he didn’t look out of place in that game, and is having a good season in the AHL. Any depth defenseman acquired would likely just become a seventh defenseman, unless one of the current roster players were to be involved in the trade. Another option could be to subtract from their deep blueline, to improve their forward options.
In goal the Sharks, at first glance, look set. Martin Jones is having a decent, if not great, season and will be the starter come the playoffs. Aaron Dell has provided great goaltending in very limited time this season and seems a capable backup. However, there could be a trust issue among the coaching staff, given that this is Dell’s first NHL season and their heavy reliance on Jones throughout the year. Last season the Sharks acquired James Reimer when Alex Stalock wasn’t a good enough backup and they may be considering a similar move. If the Sharks decide to upgrade their backup goalie, the question is where they will find him as the options around the league are a bit limited.
All in all the Sharks seem set for a playoff run, and there aren’t many ways they can make significant improvements to their lineup. The blueline is their strongest option and they could potentially give up a piece to improve in other areas. The Sharks biggest need might be a middle six or top six forward who can supply some scoring heading into the playoffs. While there are options like that available, they likely won’t come cheap. It also won’t be an easy trade to pull of with the Sharks limited cap space, so the Sharks might be better suited looking inwards and improving from their solid stock of prospects.