Programming note: Sharks-Hurricanes coverage starts Tuesday at 7 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
SAN JOSE – It’s a much different feeling this time around among the Sharks who were with the team just before the trade deadline in 2013.
Then, it was nearly inevitable that Ryane Clowe was on his way out of town. Douglas Murray and Michal Handzus were also sent packing, neither of which was much of a surprise. Raffi Torres coming to San Jose was downright shocking, as he was on a short list of NHL players most loathed by the fan base.
More than anything, though, the Sharks looked like a team that was lost in the woods just a few weeks before the April 3 cut-off date to alter the roster. Something had to be done, and it was. The result was a much faster, mobile and gritty team that was playing its best hockey of the season when it lost in seven games to the defending Stanley Cup champions in the second round.
The Sharks have been able to maintain their success and identity for much of 2013-14. Sure, they could make some modifications before noon on Wednesday, but a major shakeup is highly unlikely. If the Sharks are finally going to make it to the Stanley Cup Final, it will be done with the core guys that are here already.
“I think we’ve got the pieces and the players in this room that we think we can win with,” Tommy Wingels said. “Guys increasing their roles or guys creating more points or whatnot, we’re confident in the group we have here.
“That being said, if someone is brought in or out, we’ll take it as it is, but I don’t think we’re expecting too much to happen.”
Still, there will be a sense of relief after the deadline passes, and the players know they will undoubtedly be Sharks for the remainder of the season.
“It’s still a day that creates some anxiousness around the league for players,” Todd McLellan said. “They have families, some of them are bred in communities, and they don’t know if they’re leaving or not. It’s part of the business that you have to accept when you join the league.”
Torres has been traded just before the deadline twice, including last season when he was acquired from Phoenix for a third round pick. He echoed his coach’s thoughts.
“Guys would be lying if they said they weren’t thinking about it,” Torres said. “It’s always in the back of your mind. Being traded a couple times at the deadline, it’s not a fun thing. It’s pretty much just getting up and leaving. It’s a new chapter. It could work for you, it could not. It all depends on how the player gets accustomed to the room.”
The Sharks’ salary cap situation makes it difficult for them to make a deal, although earlier on Tuesday there was a report the club was interested in bringing forward Devin Setoguchi back from Winnipeg. Really, Torres is like a trade deadline acquisition all over again, and he’ll play in his third game since right knee surgery on Tuesday night against Carolina.
He already has three goals in his first two games.
“I still think I can be a lot more physical out there,” he said. “I know it’s going to take time for me to be able to go out there and be physical and bring that acquisition type player that you need.
“My daily thing is just get a little bit better every day, more strong every day, and keep moving in the right direction.”
Whether he has company in terms of other players that could give the team a different look for the final stretch, will be determined in less than 24 hours.
“Doug [Wilson] is very good at what he does,” McLellan said. “He’s got very good people around him and the staff that has been watching a lot of hockey.
“As the days move on, today and tomorrow, I’m glad that we’re playing tonight, because it keeps the focus on that. Tomorrow, we’ll show up and while we’re practicing the trade deadline will be over, and we’ll be able to move on.”