San Jose Sharks push patience at critical juncture

San Jose Sharks push patience at critical juncture

For the San Jose Sharks, Monday’s trade deadline ended in a proverbial no man’s land.

Did San Jose continue its rebuild or refresh? Didn’t look like it, especially with Antti Niemi’s expiring contract still on the roster.

Did it muscle up for trying to make the playoffs? Negative.

So what did San Jose do?

The Sharks added Ben Smith, lost James Sheppard, Tyler Kennedy, Andrew Desjardins and Tye McGinn. And that was about it. All minor pieces

And then, post deadline, the Sharks went out and crushed Montreal 4-0.

So is this team a legit contender? Is it trying to build for the future? Does it really have a plan? Because it doesn’t look like a contender. Its young pieces aren’t panning out this year really. And it didn’t do anything bold at the deadline either.

Said Sharks GM Doug Wilson to the San Francisco Chronicle:

One is our goal to continue to compete this year and be prepared for the future — the assets, the picks, the ample cap space — but I think our hockey team can look at it and line up and play.

And on some nights, this team looks tremendous, like in its crushing of Montreal. And on other it plays inconsistent hockey, like the Stadium Series loss to LA when San Jose won two periods and then lost in regulation because of a hot Kings third period.

Currently the Sharks have 70 points – tied with the Kings for the last spot out of the postseason, though San Jose has played two more games. Calgary, which is the last Pacific Division team in the postseason, could fall out with Mark Giordano’s injury. So it’ll likely be San Jose against Los Angeles for the final playoff spot?

According to Sports Club Stats, San Jose has a 24.9 percent chance of making the playoffs. The Kings are at 56.0 percent – though these numbers seem to change weekly.

Between those two squads, who do you put your money on? Plus, if the Sharks make the postseason, they don’t seem like a group that could make a run, at least with how they’ve limped along recently at 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.

Not that we know the inner-workings of San Jose's trade war room, but why didn’t the Sharks just say adios to their veterans and go full rebuild on trade deadline day?

Per Wilson again

“The marketplace dictates what happens.”

This is very true. Also the veterans he could have sold, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, have no-trade clauses. Maybe he felt he could get better value for them in the summer?

But the current incarnation of this rebuild or refresh doesn’t seem to be working with Tomas Hertl, Matt Nieto and Mirco Mueller underperforming, at least for this year.

At age 35, it’s a lot to ask Thornton and Marleau to try to lead San Jose deep into the playoffs … again. Even in their primes, the Sharks couldn’t seal the deal with a Stanley Cip. And San Jose has both players under contract for two more years of likely decline time.

Said coach Todd McLellan to CSN Bay Area

“For so many years, we’ve sat and anxiously awaited what was maybe coming and who was coming in to try and put us over the top and help us,” Todd McLellan said. “Obviously we’re in a different situation now, so emotions are a little bit different.

“Our record over the past month indicated that we weren’t prepared to step forward and go after some older players. We can’t blame anybody for that except for our performance.”

But maybe there’s a different plan afoot here. There’s a chance Wilson is hoping, praying, that this core can stay competitive for the rest of the season, squeak into the playoffs and go on a surprise run. There’s still a good amount of talent on the Sharks even if it is aging. Then make a move in the offseason to continue the refresh or whatever it’s called.

From Comcast’s Kevin Kurz:

Wilson has indicated more than once that his next major transaction will come over the summer, as the team continues with its plan this season of integrating younger players. Only bottom six forward Ben Smith was added on Monday, while four players on the active roster departed.

If that’s the case, then it’s patience for the Sharks. But it could be a long rest of the season.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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