Colorado Avalanche

NHL rumors: Execs believe Joe Thornton trade to Bruins, Avalanche fits

NHL rumors: Execs believe Joe Thornton trade to Bruins, Avalanche fits

The Sharks already have begun wheeling and dealing ahead of the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline. 

San Jose traded defenseman Brenden Dillon to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday for a 2020 second-round draft pick (Colorado's previously acquired by Washington) and a third-round draft pick in either 2020 or 2021. And Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is expected to stay busy before the deadline. 

The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported Sunday that "the belief is Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has put up the “For Sale” sign and is trying to move as many pieces as possible before the deadline." All eyes now are on a franchise icon. 

Will the Sharks trade Joe Thornton to give him a better chance at finally winning a championship? It sounds like they might be leaning that way. 

"He has a full 'no move' clause, but the Sharks would like to give him the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup," Garrioch wrote. "If he’s going to be dealt, then league executives believe he’ll only go to a team that has a chance to win, so the Colorado Avalanche and Boston Bruins are both viewed as good fits." 

The Bruins (37-11-12) lead the NHL in points (86) and are the top team in Eastern Conference. The Avalanche (33-18-7) are third in the Western Conference with 73 points. 

Thornton, 40, spent his first seven-and-a-half seasons with the Bruins before the Sharks acquired him from Boston in November 2005. He won both the Art Ross Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy that season. 

The center has scored 25 points -- two goals and 23 points -- over 59 games this season. Thornton is the active leader in points with 1,503 and currently ranks 14th in NHL history in that category. 

[RELATED: How Sharks can benefit from injuries at NHL trade deadline]

The Sharks (26-29-4) have the third-worst record in the Western Conference. It would be no surprise if they have more moves to come, but would San Jose really trade its all-time assists leader in what possibly could his final season in the NHL?

With less than a week to go before the trade deadline, there will be plenty of attention on Wilson and what he does with a legend in San Jose.

Programming Note: The "2020 NHL Trade Deadline Show" is coming your way this Monday at 11:30am on the MyTeams app and on NBCSportsBayArea.com! How will the Sharks be impacted heading into the Noon deadline? Don’t miss it!

How struggles in faceoff circle plagued Sharks on disastrous road trip

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How struggles in faceoff circle plagued Sharks on disastrous road trip

That is not how the Sharks wanted to enter the All-Star break.

Coming off consecutive wins over the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars, San Jose had a chance to reach the unofficial midway point of the regular season riding a massive wave of momentum, perhaps large enough to carry the team back to the postseason. All that sat between the Sharks and that development was a crucial three-game road trip against Western Conference foes.

At the very least, San Jose needed to keep its head above water. Instead, the Sharks drowned in disaster.

Facing the Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks -- all teams San Jose potentially would have to leapfrog to make the playoffs -- the Sharks reverted back to kind of performances that put them in such a deep hole in the first place.

San Jose was outscored 14-4 and outshot 117-73 over the course of the three games. Those two stats obviously are interconnected, but Sharks interim head coach Bob Boughner pointed to another area of failure as a big reason for his team's struggles.

"The big difference this road trip is we've been horrible in the faceoff circle," Boughner said following the 4-1 loss in Vancouver on Saturday night. "You're never starting with the puck. Even in the offensive zone, you're chasing, and you can't chase pucks all night. That limits your possessions and tires you out."

Boughner's correct. The Sharks were thoroughly dominated in the faceoff circle over the course of the road trip, which might have had something to do with them scoring only one goal over its final six periods of play. San Jose won only 45.1 percent of the draws against the Coyotes, 45.6 percent against the Avalanche and only 38.0 percent against the Canucks.

It's only the third time this season the Sharks have won fewer than 49.0 percent of the draws in three straight games, and the most recent instance also coincided with a three-game losing streak. Whether it's shooting, scoring or simply gaining possession of the puck, Boughner is hoping the All-Star break will provide the Sharks with the needed respite to address their shortcomings.

"This is probably a great break for everybody, mentally," Boughner said. "Recharge the batteries and come back and try to forget about this week of hockey and put a good week in as soon as we get back."

[RELATED: Report: Wilson won't disrupt Sharks' core at trade deadline]

The Sharks' final week heading into the All-Star break was an unmitigated disaster. If they're still planning on qualifying for the postseason, they can't have any more like it.

Bob Boughner urges Sharks to 'man up' after shutout loss to Avalanche

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Bob Boughner urges Sharks to 'man up' after shutout loss to Avalanche

Just when you think the Sharks have figured things out, they drop a couple of games in a row and look really bad in the process.

After beating the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars at home last week, San Jose headed to Arizona and lost to the Coyotes 6-3. Two days later, it got even worse for Bob Boughner's club as the Colorado Avalanche shut out the Sharks 4-0 on Thursday night.

San Jose heads to Vancouver to face the Canucks on Saturday before getting eight days off due to the NHL All-Star break.

For Boughner, it's time for his club to put up or shut up.

"I think it's crucial for us," Boughner told reporters in Colorado. "I think Vancouver, a team that's in the division and ahead of us, before we get into this break and end it off on the right note, we felt really good about ourselves and the way we were playing before this trip and things haven't gone our way for the first two games.

"I think it's time to man up. We've got too many guys that are not on the same page right now in the last two games and we're not a good enough team to do that. We proved that we can play with the best teams if we play the right way and we've got all 20 guys going and stick to the plan. But when we don't, we're average at best."

The Sharks are in danger of missing the playoffs for just the second time since the 2003-04 season, and Brenden Dillon understands every game the rest of the way is vitally important.

"Yeah, it's a division game, it's a team we're chasing and I think all these games we've got to have that playoff mindset of do-or-die mentality going in and show some desperation," Dillon told reporters. "A lot of these teams are battling, whether that's for playoff spots or home-ice or whatever it is in the division. But especially against Vancouver, a good team that's going well, so we've got to finish on a high."

[RELATED: Boughner reacts to Vegas hiring DeBoer]

After the loss to the Avs, the Sharks sit at 21-24-4 with 33 games remaining. They are nine points out of a wild-card spot, but every loss chips away at their margin for error.

If they don't turn things around in a hurry, it will be a long summer in San Jose.