Wilson 'refreshes' roster, keeps core together

Wilson 'refreshes' roster, keeps core together
April 3, 2013, 1:15 pm
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The Sharks enter Wednesday's tilt with Minnesota at sixth place in the Western Conference.

Programming note: Coverage of Sharks-Wild begins at 7:00 PT with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California.

So in the end, Doug Wilson sanded a bit at the ends, traded two low picks for two higher picks, Douglas Murray for Scott Hannan, and Ryane Clowe for Raffi Torres. If that’s “refreshing” the Sharks’ roster, then so be it.

It does reinforce the long held belief that Wilson as general manager still believes in the true core of his team as a Stanley Cup contender. He has always been an active but conservative trader in that way, and confronted with the opportunity to make a loud statement, he preferred to whisper.

It is interesting, though, that the chip people pointed to the most, Clowe, netted only draft picks. It leads to one of the major disconnects between the outside world and the reality – Clowe was a favorite everywhere except in the marketplace. Indeed, the marketplace clearly wonders if he might not simply be on the back few holes of his career.

He could thrive in New York under John Tortorella. He could find a place and role that fits his current skill set better than his place in San Jose. This could turn into quite the deal for the Rangers.

But the picks say otherwise. Between his struggles the past couple of seasons and his unrestricted status, that fact is hard to avoid.

Hannan, of course, came west for a sixth-round pick and is equally free come summer, so one could make a similar argument for him. But Wilson’s decision there is a simple one – he decided the Sharks still need what Murray used to be able to do, and concluded that Hannan was the best buy in a restricted market for that.

And Torres, the little ball of other people’s hate, will chafe a lot of purists, is designed to be the less banged-up version of Clowe. He is still the classic disturber, and if he can stay within the guidelines of play that everyone else in the game has generally agreed upon, he could have a value down the stretch.

He might also needlessly consume a lot of teammates’ energies if he cannot.

In sum, the Sharks changed their shows and hat but not their overall look, and the only real ways that this can end badly are if (a) Hannan and Torres provide less than Murray and Clowe and the team finishes poorly . . .

. . . or (b) if head coach Todd McLellan is forced to play them both when he desires otherwise. There is no indication that Wilson has ever imposed his will on McLellan’s lineups, and this would be an odd time to change their interpersonal dynamic. In addition, it is unlikely that McLellan objected strenuously to either deal or could not see the values in Hannan and Torres, so the daily decisions on their presence among the 18 won’t be acts of self-justification.

So no, the Sharks were not remade. They did not make a play for Marian Gaborik or Jason Pominville or Blake Comeau or Ryan O’Byrne because Wilson still wanted to keep the working heart of the group together. Whether this decision will pay off in May – or if there will be a May – remains to be seen. But for the moment, this is what Doug Wilson calls “refreshment.”