On February 1st, 2020, the San Jose Sharks had a record of 22-26-4 and were 10 points out of a wildcard spot. The evening prior to their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, General Manager Doug Wilson addressed an assembled group of season ticket holders during a Ice Insights event.
Wilson was barely over a month and a half removed from firing head coach, Peter DeBoer. Three days prior to the Q&A with the fans, Tomas Hertl was lost for the season after tearing his MCL and ACL in a game versus Vancouver. Logan Couture was injured a couple weeks prior in a match against reigning cup champs, the St Louis Blues, after the captain went awkwardly into the boards. Wilson answered questions from the fans with an optimistic outlook despite the clear downward trajectory the Sharks were on.
“We’ve got some guys who are coming into the prime of their careers” – Doug Wilson, February 1st, 2020
I presume Wilson is referring to forwards Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc. Any other Sharks on the current roster are either in their primes or beyond. Perhaps Wilson is referring to current Barracuda players. However, some scouts recently had a different outlook and vehemently disagreed with Wilson’s assessment of the youth in the Sharks pipeline.
Since that Ice Insights event, the Sharks went 4-6-0 and fell further out of wildcard spot as the deadline approached. After a lackluster matinee performance on President’s Day against the Florida Panthers, Brenden Dillon teared up and abruptly ended a postgame interview after being asked about the possibility that the defenseman had played his last home game at SAP. The next day, Dillon was traded to Washington for a 2nd and 3rd round pick.
NHL Trade Deadline
Today, on NHL Deadline day, Wilson only made 2 moves of note, trading Patrick Marleau and Barclay Goodrow.
Patrick Marleau was traded to Pittsburgh for a 3rd round pick, that becomes a 2nd if the Penguins win the cup. Wilson explained that Marleau was very involved in the trade process. It’s clear Marleau knows time is running out to get his name on the big shiny thing and Pittsburgh offered a clear opportunity. It also helps that the Penguins were a childhood favorite of Marleau’s.
Wilson appeared to suggest that he expected Marleau to return to the Sharks next season. This seems perplexing as last September, Wilson essentially proclaimed the Sharks had moved on from the Marleau era. Starting the season on a 3 game losing streak quickly changed his mind. But if we’re to believe Wilson when he talks about players coming into their prime, why is Marleau’s name all but penciled on the roster for the 2020-2021 season?
The other, somewhat curious, move was Barclay Goodrow and a 3rd round pick to Tampa Bay for Anthony Greco and a 1st round pick. Greco was evidently involved in the move in order for Tampa to get under contract restrictions. In 5 years, Greco has played in 1 NHL game.
Considering Goodrow is “in his prime” and making under $1M for another season, some questioned why Wilson would let go of the defensively sound forward.
"We made some tough decisions to add some pieces that we think can be great assets for us to make decisions going forward and getting back on track next September." #SJSharks GM Doug Wilson addresses the media after the trade deadline. pic.twitter.com/0aXX1vDDf2
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) February 24, 2020
The other name garnering the most interest was Joe Thornton. Early speculation predicted the 40-year-old center would make his way back to Boston. As the deadline got closer, there was talk that Dallas was pushing hard for Jumbo. While a reunion with former Sharks captain, Joe Pavelski, was not in the stars, this would not be the first time Thornton nixed a deal to go play in big D.
In an article on The Athletic (paywall), Sean Shapiro detailed a story from Stars CEO Jim Lites:
“…the only guy that ever turned us down and enforced his no-trade is Joe Thornton, because he wasn’t going anywhere. He had his deal, his kids were young, he loved his house — he wasn’t going anywhere.
“He got into a ‘fuck you’ with the GM there (in San Jose),” Lites added. “Before we acquired Jason Spezza the same offer had been made to San Jose for Joe Thornton, and it was accepted, but Joe wasn’t going to make it happen.”
— Teal Town USA – A San Jose Sharks Podcast (@TealTownUSA) February 2, 2020
We Will Rebuild
Doug Wilson previously admitted missing the playoffs in 2015 really hurt the bottom line of the Sharks. That is likely why Wilson is so hesitant to say the word “rebuild” in public. Last summer, the Sharks lost Joe Pavelski, Gustav Nyquist, Joonas Donskoi. The current youth in the pipeline have proven they aren’t ready to replace that missing offensive output. Today, the Sharks moved out two more proven forwards in Patrick Marleau and Barclay Goodrow. As Wilson recouped draft picks lost in previous deals today, have we finally reach the point of not a reset, not a retool, not a revamp, but a rebuild? And after missing the playoffs only twice over 16 seasons, will fans accept it and support it?