The Sharks finish to this past season, a quick first-round exit from the playoffs, is bound to bring about some changes to the roster, likely sooner rather than later.
The biggest name available, and often linked to San Jose, is Columbus’ Rick Nash, who the Sharks made a push to trade for back in February. That deal ultimately fell apart when Columbus requested Logan Couture be the centerpiece of any package from San Jose.
Nash is currently signed through 2018 to a contract worth a total of $82.4 million. The Blue Jackets will trade him at some point this offseason, but given that his contract includes a no-movement clause, their options are limited to cities that he has already pre-approved. San Jose is on the short list of such moves Nash would approve, leaving the door open that the two teams could revisit a trade.
Indications are that Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson has notified Columbus that he would be willing to sweeten the deal this summer to reunite Nash with Sharks captain Joe Thornton, helping add fuel to the Nash-to-San Jose rumors.
Nash and Thornton played together on the Canadian Olympic team as well being teammates during the 2004-2005 lockout in Switzerland. The two players are considered good friends have shown great chemistry together on the ice. Wilson is hoping the two can recreate that chemistry for the length of an entire season and ignite the Sharks offense.
Nash, the first overall draft pick of the 2002 NHL Draft, has led the Blue Jackets in goals scored in every season except his rookie year in 2002-2003 and has a reputation of making the other skaters on the ice with him better. He finished the 2011-2012 season with 30 goals and 29 assists (59 points).
Is Rick Nash worth the cost of trading a promising young star such as Logan Couture though? Would it be less of a hit to deal Joe Pavelski or Ryane Clowe instead? How about AHL prospect Taylor Doherty?
Trading Couture would probably be the hardest for Sharks fans to swallow after watching Wilson trade away another promising young star in Devin Setoguchi last offseason. Couture emerged as a leader for San Jose last season and scored 31 goals while adding 34 assists (65 points) and playing solid defensively.
Pavelski also emerged as a leader over the last few seasons after showing flashes of stardom and becoming a fan-favorite over the course of his six seasons in San Jose (as well as his performance for the US Olympic Hockey team in 2010). There would certainly be a backlash among some fans if “Little Joe” A.K.A. “The Big Pavelski” were dealt.
Clowe had the worst season of the three mentioned players, scoring just 17 goals and 28 assists (45 points) last year. Still, Clowe is a tough player whose presence is felt when he is on the ice for the Sharks.
Regardless of the player, trading any of the aforementioned three would effect the Sharks depth, a move that could prove costly come playoff time. After the moves that were made last season failed to vault the Sharks to their ultimate goal of hoisting the Stanley Cup, Wilson better hope this move pays off if he decides to pull the trigger.
Anything less than a Stanley Cup Finals may end Wilson’s reign as Sharks GM, especially if Pavelski or Couture are the cost…