PHILADELPHIA -- The NHL Entry Draft, typically a prime opportunity for some wheeling and dealing, has come and gone without any major transactions for the Sharks. Each player that was on the roster before the start of Friday’s first round is still there on Saturday afternoon.
Doug Wilson indicated late Friday night after the first round there might be some trade movement on Saturday. As it turned out, that only meant swapping draft picks with some other clubs, including moving up in the second round to select defenseman Julius Bergman.
Expecting captain Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau, among others, to be sent packing? That will have to wait.
“We were focused on the draft,” Doug Wilson said. “These picks were really important. There were times for lots of other conversations with other GMs that will continue starting tomorrow, but the main focus was on this.”
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It seems more and more likely that both Thornton and Marleau will still be on the club when training camp gets going in September. That’s not inconsistent with Wilson’s message of turning over the team to the younger players regardless of who is still on the team, but it’s thought that the club would prefer to move at least one or both of its veteran forwards.
A revelation from head coach Todd McLellan to Yahoo! Sports on Friday makes that even more evident, as McLellan suggested the team could enter next season without a captain regardless of if Thornton is still in San Jose. That wasn’t shocking to anyone who has been paying attention to Wilson’s offseason comments, including when he said in May that he would like new players in core leadership roles.
The real deadline for movement could be next year’s trade deadline, or earlier, if Thornton, Marleau or other veteran players like Brad Stuart and Antti Niemi eventually come to Wilson and tell him they’d be open to relocating.
“The timing will take place over the course of a period that fits for everybody involved,” Wilson said. “You’ve got many different pieces – young guys coming in and [getting] the opportunity; some veterans that want to maybe reestablish their game, or in a different role. And, also, asset management, which is what you get in return. All three of those things sometimes have different timelines. The first two you can’t do without competing on the ice.”
Wilson hasn’t changed his tone regarding the unrestricted free agent market, either. Earlier this offseason, he said he didn’t expect the Sharks to be big players for a top free agent, although that group is a bit thin, anyway.
That doesn’t mean he hasn’t had offers, though.
“People have called us. We’ve had, certainly, conversations to gather information,” Wilson said.
“As I said before, I don’t see us being very active in that, because it would be probably hypocritical to the opportunities we’ve handed to our young players. We expect them to take over lead roles on our team.”