Sharks

Nash to Sharks doesn't make sense -- right now

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Nash to Sharks doesn't make sense -- right now

RALEIGH Its only natural to fantasize this time of year, with the NHLs trade deadline just 10 days away.

Its a little easier if youre a follower of the San Jose Sharks, too. Columbus superstar Rick Nash is on the market, and its being reported that the Sharks are interested. The feeling is at least somewhat mutual from Nash, who has San Jose on his list of acceptable destinations according to the Columbus Dispatch.

At this point, it seems very unlikely that he will get a chance to line up with his good buddy Joe Thornton for the stretch run and playoffs, in which San Jose will try and put an end to its 20-year Stanley Cup drought.

Heres why.

Put yourself in Columbus general manager Scott Howsons shoes for a moment. If you were trading one of the league's marquee players, and the man that has been the face of your franchise and most popular player for a while now, what would you want in return?

Howson is undoubtedly asking for a kings ransom in exchange for Nash. That includes a current established NHL player and a combination of prospects and draft picks. Its surprising enough that Howson, who has made a multitude of questionable moves for the organization, is even allowed to make this decision in the first place but thats a story for another day.

That being said, if Doug Wilson is on the line, what would you be asking him in return for Nash?

Well, for one, this deal likely wouldnt get done without Joe Pavelski, since hes one of the clubs major offensive threats that doesnt have a no-movement clause. It's doubtful that the Sharks would part ways with their 22-goal scorer that has been piling up goals and assists lately, not to mention that the power play has surged since Pavelski was put back on the point just before the All-Star break. Oh, and Pavelski is one of the NHL's best faceoff men for a team that relies so heavily on puck possession.

Ryane Clowe? With 10 goals and 23 assists thats not sexy enough of a name if youre in Howsons unenviable position of selling the trade to an overtly skeptical fan base. Sharks fans, as well as the coaches and management, know how valuable Clowe is on and off the ice. That wouldn't do it.

Logan Couture is obviously a non-starter.

But the Sharks have goaltending, you say, and thats a position in which the Blue Jackets desperately need help. Steve Mason has been every bit as bad as his numbers suggest (7-20-2 record, 3.40 goals-against average, .887 save percentage), and may be the single biggest reason that Columbus finds itself buried in last place in the league.

Thomas Greiss has been good as an NHL backup that much is true. But the sample size of his performance is just not large enough. Hes 4-0-1 in his last five starts but all of those were against teams not currently in playoff position, including a pair of wins over the Blue Jackets themselves.

Alex Stalock is intriguing, but has to prove he can play after sitting out for a year due to a serious severed nerve injury. Tyson Sexsmith isnt a big enough prospect, despite his AHL All-Star appearance last month.

Theres also the matter of Nashs huge contract. Hes signed through the 2017-18 season at a 7.8 million salary cap hit, and the Sharks already have more than 54 million committed to 14 players next season according to CapGeek.com. The salary cap will probably stay right around the 63-65 million mark next season.

They could fit Nash under the cap this year even if they kept Pavelski and his 4 million salary, but would have to shed some serious dollars next year.

As for draft picks, the Sharks have a first and second round pick, after trading their other second round pick for Dominic Moore. After that, they don't have a third or fourth round pick, and their prospect pool is already viewed as somewhat thin (in fact, the website Hockeysfuture.com has them ranked dead last).

So, where does Nash end up? Smart money right now says the Los Angeles Kings, who can offer goalie Jonathan Bernier and are desperately in need of scoring. The Boston Bruins have Tuukka Rask, while Vancouver Canucks have Cory Schneider, all of whom would have be part of the deal.

Or, maybe Nash stays put in Columbus. Theres no urgency for the Blue Jackets to make the deal, and a trade at the NHL draft in June may give them a better chance to get maximum value as more teams would likely be interested. The Blue Jackets have a number of other commodities on the market like Jeff Carter, R.J. Umberger and Antoine Vermette, and they may want to see what they can get for those players while waiting to deal Nash.

If the Sharks have an abbreviated playoff run, though, that could make a major trade with the Blue Jackets a possibility should Nash still be there. Wilson showed last summer hes not afraid to make big time moves to try to try and get his team over the hump, and knows the window is closing for a core group that includes an aging Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle.

Right now, though, it just doesnt seem feasible.

Something smells fishy about Sharks' early success on power play

Something smells fishy about Sharks' early success on power play

By many traditional measures, the Sharks’ power play is off to a strong start.

They’ve scored seven times on 30 opportunities, including once in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders. That mark, 23.3%, would have been good enough for third in the league last season, and is nearly seven percent better than the Sharks were in 2016-17.

San Jose’s made some changes on the man advantage, and are getting a different look on their top power play unit with Tim Heed there instead of another forward. Second-year forward Kevin Labanc is playing a significant role on the second unit, operating as something of a focal point.

The puck’s found the net a lot for the Sharks on the power play, but a deeper look at the numbers reveals that success may be a house of cards.

According to Natural Stat Trick, San Jose ranks in the bottom third of the league in shots, shot attempts, and unblocked shot attempts per 60 minutes. Using those rates allow us to compare teams empirically, equalizing for the amount of time each team has spent on the power play. Those rates, by the way, are not very good.

And each of those are lower than last season, when the Sharks finished 25th in power play percentage. This season, the Sharks are converting more shots, despite attempting less.

It would be tempting to think San Jose can hang their helmets on higher shot quality, but they’ve struggled in that area, too. The Sharks finished just shy of the top ten in high danger chances per 60 minutes last season, but are in the bottom third of the league this season, according to Natural Stat Trick.

So the Sharks are shooting at a lower rate and generating chances at a lower rate than last season, when they had one of the league’s worst power plays, but are scoring at a much higher clip. They’ve converted on about 19% of their shots on the power play, almost doubling their conversion rate (10.5%) from a season ago.

If this doesn’t seem like a sustainable mix, that’s because it’s not. In a small sample size of seven games, the power play’s been good enough, but the Sharks can’t count on converting nearly a fifth of their power play opportunities if they continue to struggle generating shots and chances.

Of course, stranger things have happened in a hockey season, so it’s possible the Sharks can ride a sky-high shooting percentage all season long. Banking on that, however, would be foolhardy.

Sharks come up short in New York despite Couture's hat trick

Sharks come up short in New York despite Couture's hat trick

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Anders Lee had two goals and an assist to lead the New York Islanders to a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

John Tavares had a goal and two assists, Josh Bailey added a goal and an assist, and Andrew Ladd also scored to help the Islanders win for the third time in four games. Thomas Greiss stopped 28 shots.

Logan Couture scored all three goals for the Sharks, completing the hat trick with 1:52 remaining to pull them within one. Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves.

Ladd's goal at 3:12 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie. Rookie Mathew Barzal created the scoring chance by taking the puck around the net and then setting up Ladd in the high slot for his second of the season.

Lee's second of the game and fifth of the season gave the Islanders a two-goal cushion with 8:13 remaining as he converted an odd-man rush.

Tavares sealed the win with an empty-netter with 55.4 seconds remaining and helped improve to 22-4-4 in their two-plus seasons at Barclays Center. Tavares points were his first since he had two goals and an assist Oct. 7 against Buffalo, ending a five-game drought.

The Sharks scored the game's opening goal at 6:26 of the second period on the power play. San Jose came away with the offensive draw and Couture scored from the slot, redirected Brent Burns' point shot past Greiss.

The lead lasted just over a minute as Nick Leddy worked his way to the back of the net and then quickly fed Lee for the tying goal.

The Islanders went ahead 58 seconds later after Joe Thornton made a costly turnover in his own end to give Bailey a point-blank chance. Bailey was able to sneak the puck with a backhander between his skates and past Dell to put New York ahead 2-1.

However, an impressive effort by Jannik Hansen to spin past Brock Nelson in the neutral zone led to a quick feed to Couture, who took a few strides and then fired a shot past Greiss to even the score once again.

NOTES: The Islanders held a special pregame ceremony to honor alumni of the organization who were in town for an Islanders Alumni Weekend. Among the players on the ice were Bobby Nystrom, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier and Ed Westfall. ... The Islanders scratched D Scott Mayfield, F Josh Ho-Sang and F Nikulay Kulemin. ... San Jose scratched F Joel Ward, F Barclay Goodrow and D Dylan Demelo. ... The Islanders honored Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie by playing music from the band during warmups. Downie passed away on Oct. 17 after succumbing to brain cancer.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At the New York Rangers on Monday night.

Islanders: Host Arizona on Tuesday night.