The trade the Sharks and Coyotes should have made


The trade the Sharks and Coyotes should have made

The San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes both had their CBA-mandated ‘bye week’ this past week, but the Desert Dogs were far busier during their time off.

On Thursday, the Coyotes acquired winger Richard Panik and defenseman Laurent Dauphin from Chicago. Leaving Arizona were 22-year-old forward Anthony Duclair, as well as minor-league defenseman minor league defenseman Adam Clendening.

Duclair’s departure from the Pacific division, not Panik’s presence in it, most affects the Sharks. That’s not because he’s been particularly successful against San Jose, since Duclair has not scored a single point in nine career games as a Sharks opponent.

Instead, San Jose should lament the Duclair deal as one they did not get done.

He would have fit well on a team desperately needing speed and youth as the league trends in each direction. San Jose will never be mistaken for the league’s fastest group, and they’re already the fifth-oldest, according to The Athletic.

Only Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier are younger than Duclair, who could have given the Sharks another (baby) face in their emerging youth movement. The same cannot be said of the other players San Jose’s been linked to.

Evander Kane, for example, is 26, and half-a-season away from unrestricted free agency. Meanwhile, Duclair will become a restricted free agent this summer, and is (at the earliest) three seasons away from becoming an unrestricted one.

That kind of cost certainty will become increasingly important to the Sharks, and soon. Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic will see their new deals kick in next season, while Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski are eligible to sign new contract extensions.

Tomas Hertl and Chris Tierney are restricted free agents this summer, while Labanc and Meier will need new deals after next season. San Jose should still have space to spend, but that’s a sizeable commitment as is.

In other words, a pending free agent like Kane will be hard to retain. Meanwhile, acquiring a player with term on their deal, such as Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman and Montreal’s Max Pacioretty, means the Sharks would not only give up more trade assets, but future flexibility.

For good reason, it didn’t take as much for Chicago to acquire Duclair as it would have to trade for those other players. He’s coming off of a 15-point season, and has only scored 20 goals once so far in his career.

Plus, there are concerns about what drove Duclair to request a trade in the first place. Duclair told Chicago reporters that he “felt like [he] needed a change of scenery” and that he “didn’t have the leash others had” in the desert.

Arizona general manager John Chayka, for his part, told AZ Central “the team wasn’t particularly happy with the player and the player wasn’t particularly happy with the team.” Given San Jose head coach Peter DeBoer’s shorter leash for young players at times, it’s fair to wonder how Duclair would have handled a similar situation with the Sharks.

But his upside is difficult to deny, and San Jose will be hard-pressed to find another available player at the trade deadline that young and that skilled. The Sharks could’ve used Duclair this season and beyond, but now will have to turn their attention to older, pricer options.

Sharks vs. Lightning watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs


Sharks vs. Lightning watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

The Sharks played one of the best games of their season when the Lightning visited SAP Center earlier this month, defeating the NHL’s leading team 5-2.

In that game, Evander Kane found the back of the net twice while Brent Burns contributed as a helper on three goals. San Jose’s collective team defense also kept elite scorer Nikita Kucherov off the scoresheet.

[RELATED: Why Sharks' play against playoff teams is encouraging down the stretch]

The Sharks would like to put on a similar performance against the Lightning on Saturday evening. Especially since they are coming off a disappointing effort in Arizona where they fell 6-3 to the Coyotes and had their winning streak snapped at seven games. 

Tampa Bay is also looking for a rebound victory on Saturday after being defeated by the Maple Leafs 4-2 on Thursday. They’re still the best team in the Atlantic though – and in the league, for that matter – with a whopping 74 points. Despite Thursday’s loss to Toronto, they’re still 7-3-0 in their last 10 contests.

[RELATED: Sharks' Marc-Edouard Vlasic practices in Tampa, moves closer to return]

In 41 total franchise meetings, the Sharks have a 20-17-2-2 record against the Bolts.

Sharks projected lines and pairs

Marcus Sorensen – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Lukas Radil – Logan Couture – Timo Meier
Evander Kane – Tomas Hertl – Joonas Donskoi
Kevin Labanc – Barclay Goodrow – Melker Karlsson
Radim Simek – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Erik Karlsson
Tim Heed – Justin Braun
Martin Jones – projected starter
Aaron Dell

Lightning projected lines and pairs

Ondrej Palat – Steven Stamkos – Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Mathieu Joseph – Anthony Cirelli – J.T. Miller
Adam Erne – Cedric Paquette – Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman – Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh – Erik Cernak
Braydon Coburn – Anton Stralman
Andrei Vasilevskiy – projected starter
Louis Domingue

Sharks' Marc-Edouard Vlasic practices in Tampa, moves closer to return


Sharks' Marc-Edouard Vlasic practices in Tampa, moves closer to return

After injuries broke up the Sharks’ defensive corps at the start of the new year, it looks like San Jose’s blue line is inching closer to getting the band back together.

Injured defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic isn’t likely to see game action, although coach Peter DeBoer called him a game-time decision against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. The news was reported by Paul Gackle of the San Jose Mercury News.

“We’ll see how he feels," DeBoer told the media after Friday’s practice. "I think he’s getting closer.”

Vlasic has been sidelined since the beginning of the month when he sustained an upper-body injury against the Colorado Avalanche. He participated in the Sharks’ practice in Tampa Bay on Friday ahead of the game against the Lightning – the first time he has been a full participant in team practice since sustaining the injury. 

While it’s a positive sign Vlasic has rejoined his teammates, DeBoer remains cautious about putting him back in the lineup too soon.

“We’re not going to put him out there and get him reinjured,” the Sharks’ bench boss said. “Especially with the 10-day break on the horizon. But if he can help us and get in there then he will.”

Vlasic has registered 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) in 42 games played so far this season for Team Teal.

Sticking with the theme of blueliners: Erik Karlsson was absent from morning skate on Friday with an undisclosed ailment. DeBoer told the media he was taking another maintenance day and is expected to be in the lineup Saturday in Tampa Bay.