Feb. 28, 2010RATTO ARCHIVE NHL PAGESHARKS PAGE SHARKS VIDEORay Ratto
As expected, the Sharks enjoyed the NHL trade deadline in the same way that the rest of you did -- from afar.
But the expected panic that will come from the Los Angeles Kings trading for Dustin Penner will stop at the feet of general manager Doug Wilsons desk. In short, he was unmoved.
The Kings deal was the most compelling deal of an otherwise quiet day, and the tradition of overreacting to a move and declaring the active teams brilliant was well in evidence as the trade was chewed over on CBC, TSN and Rogers SportsNet.
Typically, though, big deadline day moves do not translate into a huge improvement for the teams that invest in them. Big trades are big trades whenever they happen, and the Penner deal, for L.A.s first and a conditional third-round pick and former first-rounder Colten Teubert, is a kind of big deal.
NEWS: Sharks stand pat at trade deadline
It seems much bigger, though, because it happened on a nearly inert deadline day. And the Kings were in a more vulnerable state than, say, the Canucks, Red Wings or Sharks.
San Jose will claim that Antero Niittymakis health and the trade for defenseman Ian White serve as the Sharks deadline improvements, and in a semantic way thats probably true.
But the Sharks made their real move when they finally convinced the student-athletes already on campus to play a different way. That occurred six weeks ago, and they are now a much tougher out than they have been, or that they would have been if they had been the ones to trade for Penner.
Unlike the NBA deadline, which was really about Carmelo Anthony, the NHL had no Anthony to move. Dustin Penner is more a Josh Smith type, if you want to strain the analogy.
NEWS: Penner moves from Edmonton to L.A.
But does he change the balance the power in the West? No more than, say, the Blackhawks did with the Chris Campoli deal if they can figure out how to make Campoli actually access his skills as he has not in Long Island or Ottawa. Or maybe even the Phoenix deal for defenseman Rostislav Klesla.
The Penner deal actually enhances Los Angeles ability to make the playoffs, but it is hard to project the Kings as superior to Vancouver or Detroit, or even San Jose. It is harder for the Sharks to unlearn how to play their new style than it is for Penner to integrate himself onto a team with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown.
Put another way, if the Sharks lapse into their old silly ways, they deserve all the scorn they will get. If they do not, the Kings are not good enough to beat them four times, and in any event probably wouldnt meet them anyway.
The Kings are better with Penner next year, and by then the Sharks will have to address their cap squeeze and their weaknesses, but the turnaround here is too short. The Kings wont have the time to transform themselves into a conference power without a full camp, and the one thing nobody has now is time.
As to the Sharks, they will stand or fall on their own -- not because of Dustin Penner, but because what they did to straighten themselves out wasnt enough to elevate them past teams that remain their superiors.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.