The Pittsburgh Penguins appear to go be in "go for it" mode. Makes sense. Between the 12-game win streak and the fact that Sidney Crosby is finally healthy and once again the best player in the world, they have a lot to be optimistic about. That in mind, GM Ray Shero has decided it's time to load up for a lengthy playoff run.
Or beef up, at the very least. On Sunday, he acquired Brenden Morrow from the Dallas Stars. On Monday, the Penguins announced that they had acquired former Elin Nordegren love interest Douglas Murray from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2nd round pick in 2013 and a conditional 2nd in 2014.
Good on Shero to get his guys early, even if it means he's singlehandedly ruining trade deadline day.
Like Morrow, Murray's best days are clearly behind him, but while his footspeed appears to be on the decline, he remains a steady 6'3", 240 lbs. With mass like that, it's not surprising that Murray leads the Sharks' blueline in running into guys and the entire club in getting hit by pucks.
He won't be a shutdown defenceman, and the Penguins would do well to pair him with someone who can motor, but he'll add size and toughness to the Penguins' backend. As a bottom-pairing defender, you could do worse.
I'm more interested in what this move means for the Sharks, however, who did well to get two 2nd rounders for a guy they didn't appear all that interested in retaining. But was this a move made in isolation, or does it signal a shift in San Jose?
Consider general manager Doug Wilson's statement:
"We have tremendous respect for Douglas as a hockey player and a person. He has been a warrior for our hockey club for the past eight seasons and he has been in the Sharks family for the past 14 years. This deal places Douglas in a quality situation which he deserves."
That last line is a curious one. Is Wilson referring to Murray's situation personally -- his ice time was declining and it's clear the Penguins valued him more than the Sharks -- or is Wilson referring to the situation in San Jose as a whole? The Sharks are currently sitting in ninth place, and they no longer look like the top-tier team they appear to be earlier in the season.
It's curious to see a club expected to be a contender trading away a body for draft picks. Have the Sharks become sellers?
Fear the Fin thinks they should be considering a few other moves:
Hopefully, this deal signals a willingness by management to trade players who aren't nailed down and have no actual impact on the Sharks' playoff chances. Ryane Clowe and Michal Handzus are two obvious names (although with the number of shootouts this team has been in, perhaps Handzus has a bigger impact on their playoff hopes than we suspect). If an over-the-hill Murray nets this much of a return, it's incredible to consider what Clowe might fetch in a trade market that seemingly values size and toughness over, you know, actual hockey-playing ability. No matter how you slice it, this is a big win for Doug Wilson.
What a strange season it would be indeed if the San Jose Sharks continued subtracting rather than adding.
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