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NHL trade deadline: What Sharks fans need to know before February 25

NHL trade deadline: What Sharks fans need to know before February 25

We’re five days away from the NHL Trade Deadline, and the silly season is underway. 

Teams are already sitting possible trade targets, seemingly to avoid risking injury. Well, unless you’re asking John Tortorella, that is.

With Monday’s noon PT deadline right around the corner, what are the Sharks in position to do? Who are the best players available? We set out to break it all down, FAQ-style.

When is the NHL trade deadline?

Monday, Feb. 25 at noon PT. Did you read the previous paragraph?

No comment on that one. So, what’s the Sharks’ salary-cap situation?

Before claiming enforcer Micheal Haley off waivers Wednesday, San Jose was projected to have just under $5.4 million ($5,374,870, to be exact) in cap space on at the deadline, according to CapFriendly. 

That projection shouldn’t change much, however. Haley’s cap hit is $100,000 lower than rookie center Dylan Gambrell, who was sent down to the Barracuda on Wednesday to make room for Haley.

How does that compare to other Western Conference contenders?

As it stands right now, the Sharks would have less cap space ahead of the deadline than the team they’re chasing (Calgary Flames) and the teams chasing them (Winnipeg Jets, Nashville Predators, and Vegas Golden Knights). 

There’s still space to add a player, but San Jose doesn’t have the cap room or assets to compete with its peers for some of the bigger fish. 

Speaking of assets, what picks do the Sharks have?

Great segue, nebulous question-asker! 

Here are the picks San Jose has in each of the next three years, with a round-by-round breakdown as things stand right now.

2019: Five (second round, third round, fifth round, sixth round, seventh round)
2020: Five (second round, third round, fourth round, two in fifth round)
2021: Seven (first round, second round, third round, fourth round, fifth round, sixth round, seventh round)

The Sharks’ first two picks in 2021 are in flux, depending upon what happens with Erik Karlsson. If the defenseman is re-signed, the Ottawa Senators receive San Jose’s second-round pick. Should the Sharks make to the Stanley Cup Final, that pick becomes a first-rounder. 

What other trade chips can they work with?

Kevin Labanc has been mentioned as a trade possibility, and has heated up offensively in February alongside Joe Thornton on the third line. Gambrell has become San Jose’s preferred forward to call-up over the last month, but it’s worth noting that former prospects Nikolay Goldobin and Danny O’Regan were on the NHL roster in February before being traded in 2017 and 2018, respectively. 

Fellow rookie centers Rourke Chartier and Antti Suomela have not suited up with the Sharks since November and December, respectively. They’ve become mainstays with the Barracuda in the AHL, and are the only Barracuda players to suit up in the NHL this season other than Gambrell and defenseman Jacob Middleton.

As for who won’t be traded, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Tuesday that the Sharks are shooing away teams asking about forward Sasha Chmelevski. Chmelevski starred for the United States at the World Juniors, and has 65 points in 46 games with the Ottawa 67s. It’s also hard to imagine San Jose parting with 2018 first-round pick Ryan Merkley.

Where might the Sharks try to improve?

San Jose reportedly is looking to make a move up front. Nine Sharks forwards have scored at least 10 goals, and the Sharks’ top three lines have found a groove lately. But coach Peter DeBoer continues to rotate options on the fourth line, and Friedman also reported on Tuesday that the Sharks “will try to add a winger.”

How about in net? 

It’s a fair question. San Jose ranks dead-last in 5-on-5 save percentage (.897) per Natural Stat Trick, while Aaron Dell (.907) and Martin Jones (.881) are 55th and 67th among the 68 goalies who played 500 minutes at full strength this season. 

The Sharks aren’t committed to Dell beyond next season, but Jones is the franchise goalie playing in the first of a five-year extension he signed two summers ago.

While a trade for a netminder seems unlikely, it was reported on Thursday that the Sharks are talking to the Ducks about Ryan Miller.

We shall see ... 

Let’s say they make a move elsewhere. Who are the names to know? 

Without a first-round pick, the Sharks probably won’t be in contention for bigger names like Matt Duchene and Artemi Panarin. Friedman reported on Tuesday that the Sharks “have checked in” or are “looking at” a trio of pending free-agent wingers from the Metropolitan Division: Marcus Johansson, Wayne Simmonds and Mats Zuccarello. 

Johansson is the youngest of the bunch (28 years old), and the New Jersey Devil is generating 5-on-5 attempts, shots and chances at career-high rates, according to Natural Stat Trick. 

Simmonds has struggled working his way back from offseason surgeries. But, the Philadelphia Flyers winger on pace to score 20 goals for the seventh straight season. 

Zuccarello continues to drive play in a positive direction, and the diminuitive New York Rangers fan favorite is picking up primary assists at full strength at the highest rate of his career. 

Friedman also floated out a reunion with Minnesota Wild center Eric Fehr as a possibility. Fehr was a key cog in the Sharks’ fourth line last postseason. 

[RELATED: Sharks looking to cut down trips to penalty box]

Who are some other available names that might interest Sharks fans?

That’s an oddly specific question, but I do like where your head’s at. 

Andre Burakovsky, Washington Capitals LW: The former first-rounder is having a down year, his age (24 years old) and contract ($3 million cap hit) make him an intriguing candidate for the Sharks to take a flyer on. 

Micheal Ferland, Carolina Hurricanes LW: The longer the ‘Canes are in the race, the less likely they are to trade Ferland. Still, he was the bottom-six forward du jour in trade rumors for much of the season, and general manager Doug Wilson has never been afraid to add size. 

Gustav Nyquist, Detroit Red Wings RW: Nyquist has always been a strong possession player, and his versatility makes him a fit just about anywhere among the Sharks’ top-nine forwards. 

Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings G: If the Sharks don't land Miller, Howard (.931 5-on-5 save percentage) is the best option available in net outside of Sergei Bobrovsky, who the Columbus Blue Jackets might or might not trade. 

We know what the Sharks have. We know what they might want. Will they make a trade?

Wilson’s history would indicate it’s pretty much an inevitability. The 2013-14 season was really the only time San Jose was in contention in Wilson’s tenure that he didn’t add a piece at (or around) the trade deadline.

Still, the Sharks are within striking distance of the top seed in the West as things stand right now. Wilson said last month the team was happy with its depth, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him stand pat on Monday. 

NHL free-agency review: How Vegas Golden Knights stack up in Pacific Division

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NHL free-agency review: How Vegas Golden Knights stack up in Pacific Division

Editor’s note: NHL free agency was fast and furious, and the moves that teams did (and did not) make set the tone for next season. All week, we’ll examine the Sharks’ Pacific Division rivals, and whether their free-agency approach put them in better, worse or the same position. Today, we dive into the Vegas Golden Knights.

The 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs can't be talked about without Game 7 between the Sharks and the Golden Knights in the Western Conference first round

In addition to being the ultimate edge-of-your-seat viewing experience, it gave the rest of the hockey world a glimpse into the bitter rivalry that has very quickly manifested between these two teams.

Despite being around for only two seasons, the Golden Knights have become a force to be reckoned with. And with most of the Pacific Division teams having down seasons, Vegas has emerged as San Jose's biggest competition on the West Coast.

So while the Sharks have a lot to focus on this offseason in terms of their own roster, it doesn't hurt to take a peek at what the opposition is up to, especially a team with no cap space to work with.

Here's a look at what Vegas has been up to since the free-agent market opened up.

Players who stayed

Vegas has been incredibly busy getting its players signed to deals this offseason, keeping important pieces of its roster together. They made the most noise in late June when they signed high-scoring center William Karlsson to an eight-year deal. The top-line pivot ranked second on the team last year with 56 regular-season points.

Vegas also kept some of their depth from last season, locking up forwards Tomas Nosek and Brandon Pirri, and backup goalie Malcolm Subban. 

The Golden Knights still have a couple of players hanging out as free agents. But given they currently have zero room under the salary cap, according to CapFriendly, there will be moves made before anyone else gets signed.

Players who left

The lack of breathing room under the salary cap has, as expected, signaled the exit of a handful of players Vegas had on its roster last season.

Defenseman Colin Miller was traded to the Buffalo Sabres and forward Erik Haula was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes ahead of free agency. Center Ryan Carpenter signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks in the first couple hours of free agency, and French forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare became one of many players scooped up by the Colorado Avalanche that same day.

Rumors have also been swirling that RFA Nikita Gusev could be headed to another team given Vegas doesn't have any room left under the cap, but there could also be another trade in the works to free up some money.

While the moves leave roles to be filled on Vegas' roster, it allows some of its promising young prospects to step up. The Golden Knights likely aren't done making moves this summer.

Better, worse, or the same?

Even with some pieces being moved around this offseason, the core of the Golden Knights is still intact.

With no cap space to work with, Vegas probably will make more moves this offseason. The Knights still, however, look like they're going to be the Sharks' toughest division rival for another season.

NHL free-agency review: How Edmonton Oilers stack up in Pacific Division

NHL free-agency review: How Edmonton Oilers stack up in Pacific Division

Editor’s note: NHL free agency was fast and furious, and the moves that teams did (and did not) make set the tone for next season. All week, we’ll examine the Sharks’ Pacific Division rivals, and whether their free-agency approach put them in better, worse or the same position. Today, we dive into the Edmonton Oilers.

It was only a couple of postseasons ago when the Oilers booted the Sharks from the Stanley Cup playoffs. But boy, have they spiraled out of control since then.

Despite having one of the best hockey players in the world on their team, the Oilers have developed a reputation for being inconsistent and sometimes looking like they really don't give a darn. The drama got turned up an extra notch this past season with the firing of coach Todd McLellan in November and of general manager Peter Chiarelli in February.

Now Edmonton is set with a new bench boss and GM and is making moves in free agency to improve its roster. But is it enough to completely rebound from a disappointing 2018-19 campaign?

Here's a look at what the Oilers have done since the free-agent market opened. 

Players who signed

New GM Ken Holland has gone to work trying to provide the Oilers with offensive depth in free agency, re-signing forwards Alex Chiasson and Jujhar Khaira and adding Markus Granlund, Tomas Jurco, and Gaetan Haas. 

But the most interesting signing thus far has been that of goaltender Mike Smith, previously with the Calgary Flames. Smith is coming off an inconsistent season where he lost out on the starting job to David Rittich, but was good down the stretch -- although the Flames were booted pretty quickly from the playoffs.

This addition could go one of two ways. Smith could have a bounceback season playing for David Tippett -- who has been his coach twice before -- or lose out on the starting job yet again, this time to Mikko Koskinen. 

Whichever goalie wins the job is going to have a challenging time with the lack of quality defense being played in front of them. Speaking of ...

Players who left

Edmonton started clearing room before the market opened by buying out the rest of Andrej Sekera's contract. Even though Sekera's career has been on the decline since he sustained an ACL injury a couple of seasons ago, it leaves a void on the Oilers' blue line.

Not ideal if your team is going up against an offense like the Sharks' multiple times a season.

[RELATED: Sharks re-sign RFAs Gambrell and Suomela to contracts]

It's believed Holland is going to make a big trade at some point this summer ahead of training camp to beef up the blue line. Until that happens, though, Edmonton's defense isn't looking too sturdy.

Better, worse, or the same?

As of right now, the Oilers don't appear to have made any big changes that could completely turn their fortunes around and still have pieces they need to add before next season starts.

They may have a new coach and general manager in place, but they'll need to do more than that if they want to be more competitive next season.