After one too many kicks in the teeth, the Sharks were bound for changes following their 4-2 defeat at the hands at the Ottawa Senators. But I don’t think anybody was ready for how bizarre the next day and a half leading up to the trade deadline was going to be. As in, what recently transpired made the season that Douglas Murray and Ryane Clowe got traded look like no big deal.
Now, a super secret Sunday brunch date and a few roster changes later, the Sharks still have the same predicament ahead of them: Roughly six weeks to get their heads on straight. The question now is if the winless February and subsequent trade shenanigans will put them in any different a position mentally than they were in just a week ago.
Of course, the one name that got the most attention leading up to the deadline was Antti Niemi, whose streaky play over the course of the last couple seasons has been reflective of how the team has played in front of him. Yet despite the Sharks “aggressively shopping” No.31 right up until the noon deadline, he was still in San Jose’s game plans. While you can’t blame every single one of the Sharks’ losses on Niemi, he hasn’t been in shutting-out-the-Blackhawks mode often enough for the team to want to keep him long-term. How is that going to affect his play, knowing his tenure in teal has an expiration date that the team tried to expedite? When I say “team” I don’t mean his immediate teammates, as he has a rep for being a good dressing room guy, someone who shoulders losses instead of throwing his brethren under the bus. Still, he’s a UFA still in the building whose future is in the balance.
Other UFAs semi-expected to make an exit by Monday’s trade deadline did just that:
- Andrew Desjardins went to the Blackhawks in exchange for winger Ben Smith.
- James Sheppard went to the Rangers in exchange for a fourth round pick in the 2016 draft.
- Tyler Kennedy went to the Islanders for a conditional pick.
- Tye McGinn was claimed by Arizona after being put on waivers on Sunday.
Hertl a bit lonely as locker neighbours (Desjardins, Sheppard, Kennedy) all gone pic.twitter.com/sFlXbUzrzY
— Curtis Pashelka (@CurtisPashelka) March 2, 2015
Pictured above: The Hertl Locker
Beyond the Desi and Shepp trades being widely unpopular with the fan base, it also brings to light the fact players remaining in that bottom six — Hertl, Nieto, you get the idea — now have less than two months to create some type of chemistry with new linemates, and the Sharks are, almost to a fault, a very chemistry-driven team. Granted, I think the trade for Smith is a positive one, in that he’s a utilitarian player that can help bolster San Jose’s special teams. His success, at least for the time being, could depend on whether or not he meshes well with his new teammates.
Speaking of chemistry: Monday’s mashup on the trade front was only of San Jose’s start to the month of March. Let’s not forget that the lineup shakeup comes on the heels of the Sharks players-only pep session that set the scene abuzz. Instead of practicing after the loss to Ottawa that gave San Jose their first winless February since the mid-’90s, the team asked to skip out on Sunday practice to get together for a players-only lunch meeting. I’m pretty sure it’s not conventional to get together over turkey clubs away from the bigwigs, but this team needs a jolt and appears to be trying just about anything to jumpstart themselves.
Add to that, that after this 32-some-odd hour rollercoaster, the Sharks have to put a product out on the ice Monday night against the Montreal Canadiens and snap an eight-game losing streak at home.
It’s not an ideal scenario for the team, or anyone watching them for that matter. Now it’s about seeing how the Sharks come out on the other side.