After making a big splash at the trade deadline last season with the acquisition of winger Evander Kane, Sharks GM Doug Wilson indicated to Paul Gackle of the Mercury News that they’re once again open to going after an impact rental player. Before Kane’s addition last season, San Jose was typically content with adding role players and shoring up their depth around the deadline but they’re open to a more aggressive approach this time around.
It’s certainly understandable that Wilson is open to trying another big swing. The Sharks are built to win now and have several prominent unrestricted free agents on the roster already in defenseman Erik Karlsson plus centers Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton. With Karlsson unlikely to sign a contract extension until after the trade deadline (when he becomes eligible for an eighth year), an impact addition plus a strong playoff run could certainly bolster their chances of keeping him in the fold beyond this season.
However, there are a couple of potential complicating factors here. For starters, San Jose projects to only be able to add a player making just shy of $4MM on deadline day, per CapFriendly. Most impact rentals have a higher price tag than that. Accordingly, the Sharks would either need to send someone off the roster to help offset salary or have the other team retain part of the contract, resulting in a higher asking price.
That leads to the other challenge that Wilson will face. As a result of the Kane acquisition (and subsequent extension), San Jose doesn’t have their first-round pick this season. They also have to give up the higher of their 2019 second-round picks to Ottawa as part of the Karlsson trade, a move that also cost them their 2020 first rounder. On top of that, their top two 2021 top picks are presently encumbered from the Karlsson trade as it’s a conditional selection contingent on him re-signing and how far the Sharks go in the playoffs this year. (There’s also the conditional first-rounder they’d owe if they deal Karlsson to another Eastern Conference team although that’s extremely unlikely to occur.) That certainly limits their trade chips.
With their pursuit of John Tavares last summer and their eventual acquisition of Karlsson, San Jose served notice that their window to win is now so adding another impact rental player makes plenty of sense. However, given their shortage of top picks and somewhat limited salary cap space, their options may wind up being more limited than they’d like.