Five quick thoughts after the Sharks acquired Roman Polak and Nick Spaling from Toronto, and what the next few days leading up to the Feb. 29 trade deadline might hold…
1 – At first glance, giving up a pair of second round picks for a third pairing defenseman and a bottom six forward may seem a little steep. But, it’s on par with the price of doing business these days in the NHL around the deadline, especially for blueliners.
Last year, for example, the Flyers got a first and a third round pick and Radko Gudas from the Lightning in exchange for Braydon Coburn. Philly also managed to get a second round pick and a conditional fourth rounder from Chicago for Kimmo Timonen, a 39-year-old who was wrapping up his career. It cost the Kings a first round pick for rental d-man Andrej Sekera. Sharks fans also likely remember getting a pair of second round picks out of Pittsburgh for Douglas Murray prior to the 2013 deadline.
Polak, according to reports, was a pretty highly sought after guy. One team apparently looking for a blue line upgrade is the Kings. It’s not a stretch to think that Los Angeles may have been in the Polak discussions, among other teams, driving up the price. Wilson was quick to point out that the Sharks have plenty of time to try and recover those 2017 and 2018 second rounders in future deals, too. Perhaps a Patrick Marleau trade in the summer is one way to do that.
The Sharks are going for it. They needed some more pieces. Just my opinion here, but It’s probably a good time to start getting excited about their opportunity at a deep playoff run, because it is palpable, rather than worrying about draft picks that are two and three years away.
2 – Now, that being said, it’s never ideal to give up second round picks, although San Jose has squandered some of those high selections in recent years (William Wrenn, Taylor Doherty, Gabriel Boudreau, trading one for Tyler Kennedy, trading one to move up two spots to select Mirco Mueller, and trading one for rental Dominic Moore).
The Sharks wouldn’t have had to deal those two picks to Toronto if only some of their recent picks and prospects bore fruit. The club has had a difficult time in recent years finding defensemen in the draft, in particular. It’s evident that Mueller and Nikolay Goldobin need more seasoning, too, when the hope was they would be ready by now.
3 – The one remaining glaring hole on the roster is obvious, as backup Alex Stalock still hasn’t been able to put together back-to-back quality starts in more than a year. Fortunately for San Jose, Martin Jones seems to be in a groove right now while starting 13 of the previous 14 games.
Stalock could potentially go back to the Barracuda for another brief conditioning stint, since his previous stretch there was only five days in early January. That might provide an opportunity for Aaron Dell to get an NHL start. According to GackleReport.com, Dell has a sterling .943 save percentage in his last 11 games with the Barracuda.
The next probable date for the backup to play, whoever it might be, is Feb. 29 against Montreal in the second of a back-to-back with travel (the Sharks are in Vancouver on Feb. 28). Perhaps it’s Stalock, or maybe it’s Dell, but relying on either of them to fill in for Jones at any point down the stretch or in the playoffs is taking a mighty big risk on a team that’s clearly trying to win now.
4 – So, are the Sharks done making trades before the deadline passes? If they aren’t it won’t be easy, as they have less than $700k in salary cap space according to generalfanager.com. Wilson and Pete DeBoer have both mentioned how much they like the team’s chemistry right now, and that’s shown on the ice. Removing a piece of any kind now may not be a good idea, and that’s probably a part of the reason they’ve stuck with the popular Stalock for as long as they have.
Wilson should still try to find a way to get a low priced, veteran goalie in the fold somehow. Other than that, I would tend to think they’re done making moves.
5 – With the additions of Polak and Spaling the Sharks’ roster now stands at a full 23 players, meaning someone will have to make way for Tommy Wingels when he is ready to come off of injured reserve. Wingels will be ready soon.
My initial guess Monday on what the Sharks were going to do was to waive and reassign Matt Tennyson, who suffered a scary hit from Ryan Reaves in St. Louis Monday night. Dylan DeMelo has clearly locked down the seventh defenseman role if everyone is healthy.
The other option would be to waive a forward, and Mike Brown would be the most likely candidate there, but my money would be on Tennyson re-joining the Barracuda if he gets through waivers and if he recovers quickly from that probable head injury.