In case it was not yet clear, Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Avalanche reiterated a fundamental fact about the Sharks: Scoring is an issue.
They won’t face Jonathan Bernier every game, but they’re not going to score five goals per game, either, as they did 13 days ago against the Rangers. San Jose scored 10 goals on its five-game road trip sans Joe Thornton, and only six in five-on-five situations.
That’s 1.43 goals per 60 minutes of five-on-five play, according to Natural Stat Trick, and only bumps up to 1.98 goals per 60 if you include San Jose’s last game before the All-Star break. Even with Thornton, the Sharks only scored 2.11 goals per 60 minutes of five-on-five play, the league's 26th-best rate.
With the trade deadline less than three weeks away, the Sharks have unsurprisingly been linked to scoring forwards, including with the aforementioned Rangers. The New York Post first listed San Jose as a possible destination for winger Rick Nash when they reported last month that New York would look to trade its pending free agents.
Others have backed up that reporting, and on some level, the reported interest makes sense. The Sharks were rumored to have interest in Nash six years ago when he was first traded to the Rangers, and he played with Thornton in Switzerland during the last two lockouts.
Most importantly, he can put the puck in the net. Since joining the Rangers in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, Nash is tied for 18th in the NHL in goals (142), and his 15 goals this season would place him second on the Sharks.
In other ways, the links don’t make a whole lot of sense for San Jose, given New York’s reported asking price. According to TSN, the Rangers are asking for a first-round pick, a top prospect, and another prospect or pick.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that New York would likely accept a package of a first round pick and a prospect, or a first and second round pick. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has said publicly he’s not willing to trade “key young core players” for a rental.
Nash appears to be one. He’s not only a 33-year-old pending unrestricted free agent who was publicly disappointed about the possibility of leaving New York, but would “surprise no one” if he re-signed with the Rangers after a playoff run elsewhere, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Plus, San Jose doesn’t have a second or third round pick in this upcoming draft. The Sharks do have those picks in 2019, but trading a first means they wouldn’t pick until the fourth round in June, a major risk for a team that is already the league’s fourth-oldest, even as all of its top prospects are in the NHL.
Taken altogether, New York’s rumored Rick Nash asking price seems a bit rich for San Jose. The Rangers may ultimately end up asking for less, but the Sharks should steer clear if they don’t.