With the All-Star break in the rearview, the trade deadline looms large and is now less than two weeks away. Where does each team stand, and what moves should they be looking to make? We continue our look around the league with the San Jose Sharks.
The San Jose Sharks are in the midst of a monstrously bad season. The year kicked off with an 11-game losing streak, which the Sharks have since topped with a 12-game losing streak in December. They’ve wrestled with the Chicago Blackhawks for dead-last in the league for most of the season, currently tied with 35 points, though San Jose has played in three fewer games. The franchise has trained their focus entirely on the future, eagerly anticipating their chance to draft local talent Macklin Celebrini in the 2024 NHL Draft. But the Trade Deadline offers an exciting appetizer before the draft, with San Jose offering some of the best value on the open market and likely in a position to take on any assets they’re offered. With the right aggression and a lucky market, San Jose could be poised to make foundational moves over the next few weeks.
15-36-5, 8th in the Pacific Division
Deadline Cap Space
$11.38MM of cap space on deadline day, 2/3 retention slots used, 48/50 contracts used, per CapFriendly.
Upcoming Draft Picks
2024: SJS 1st, PIT 1st*, SJS 2nd, NJD 2nd**, VGK 4th, PIT 5th, SJS 7th, NJD 7th
2025: SJS 1st, SJS 2nd, SJS 3rd, SJS 4th, WPG 4th, SJS 6th, SJS 7th, WSH 7th
* 2024 pick is top-10 protected. Penguins will have the option to send their 2025 first-round pick if the pick ends up in the top-10.
** If the Devils make the 2024 Eastern Conference Final, they will send their 2024 first-round pick.
San Jose has a nearly endless list of assets available at this deadline, offering value at every position and at every scale. They likely won’t find a blockbuster deal at forward, with both Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl carrying hefty cap hits and again dealing with injury, but the Sharks could make a splash by trading starting goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen, who carries a .905 save percentage despite San Jose’s losing season. Kahkonen has a modest $2.75MM cap hit and is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, making any trade a short-term commitment for contending teams.
But really, there are likely not many names San Jose wouldn’t hear out offers on. Anthony Duclair and Mikael Granlund headline a long list of Sharks forwards that could be moved. Granlund has a pricey $5MM cap hit through the end of next season, but he’s proven to be a dynamic playmaker in San Jose, recording 25 assists and 32 points through 43 games this season. Duclair is a budget option, coming in at $2MM cheaper than Granlund, and is set to become an unrestricted free agent this off-season. He has a measly 19 points in 51 games this season, but he scored 31 goals and 58 points in 74 games with the Florida Panthers two seasons ago, and could benefit from a livelier offense than San Jose’s. San Jose also offers admirable depth in Nico Sturm, Mike Hoffman, and Justin Bailey – all likely cheap options for teams that find a lineup fit.
There is also the matter of Mario Ferraro, who’s appeared in trade rumors every time they flare up, and for good reason. The 25-year-old defenseman has a great contract, boasting a $3.25MM cap hit through the end of the 2025-26 season, and has established himself as a strong defensive presence through San Jose’s woes. It’s always hard to place the right value on defensive stalwarts, but any trade for Ferraro comes with the added benefit of opening room for Shakir Mukhamadullin in the Sharks lineup, making any potential return easier to pallet.
1) Take What You Can Get – The Sharks have a great framework forming. Fabian Zetterlund and Filip Zadina are each finding their own groove, supporting William Eklund’s push of youth into San Jose’s forward group, and the team boasts strong prospects in Quentin Musty, William Smith, and Daniil Gushchin. That should be enough to let San Jose seek out as much value for their veteran forwards as they can find, confident that they find proper replacements. The Sharks only have six picks in the top two rounds of the 2024 and 2025 NHL Drafts, while the Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks each have nine. San Jose is a step behind of their counterparts in the race for future capital but they have a chance to catch up this March. An ideal deadline will see Mike Grier’s phone constantly ringing, and players like Duclair, Granlund, Kahkonen, and Ferraro all moved out for modest draft capital at the least. Future capital is more valuable to the Sharks than veteran talents – and it will be better for the team to leave the Deadline with any semblance of the former, rather than too much of the latter.
2) Be Active Sellers – The market is too rich for San Jose to get bogged down with just negotiating their own pieces. Players like Kaapo Kakko, Arthur Kaliyev, and Philip Broberg have all been made available and could help the Sharks kickstart their lineup of the future. The Sharks could also try to go all-out by acquiring Trevor Zegras, who has reportedly been shopped around by the Anaheim Ducks. Zegras has everything a team would want in a young player. He’s in the first year of a bridge contract that carries a $5.75MM cap hit until the end of the 2025-26 season, giving any new team plenty of time to fit him into their lineup before they commit big dollars. And Zegras will certainly demand it at some point. The 22-year-old forward has scored 23 goals in each of the last two seasons, rounding them out with 61 points and 65 points respectively. He’s quickly proven effective in the NHL, capable of playing top-line minutes and serving as his team’s leading scorer. Zegras also entered the league as a winger but worked with the Ducks development staff to take on a center role, giving him flexibility that few young players have. There may not be a pricier player this Trade Deadline – but there also may not be a team more poised to pay big than the Sharks. San Jose doesn’t have the draft capital of some of their peers, but they have a deep prospect pool, strong lineup pieces, and plenty of cap space, giving them a chance to take something on in addition to offering a big return. Zegras is undoubtedly a longshot for any team this Deadline, but he headlines a long list of young players available this year – a list the Sharks should be eagerly engaged in.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.