For years and years, the San Jose Sharks have been a model of consistency. Under longtime General Manager Doug Wilson, the Sharks had an untouchable group of talent – including star forwards Joe Thornton and Patrick Marlowe and defensemen Mark Eduard Vlasic and Brent Burns. They were a regular presence in the deepest parts of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
However, over the past three seasons, the Sharks have struggled to ice a competitive team, and have not made the postseason for three straight years—the longest drought in their 30-season history. Wilson moved on from GM, and longtime NHLer Mike Grier was hired this past summer to guide the Sharks out of the muck and back on the road to becoming an elite team again.
Grier has a number of notable assets to move ahead of the March 3 NHL trade deadline. And he should not hold on to emotional ties with his key players, because those key players simply don’t get the job done.
Greer started the process by shipping Burns to Carolina in the off-season, and he still has valuable defenders to have on the trading block. First and foremost in this regard is the star D-man Eric Carlson. In the NHL’s fixed salary cap era, few teams have the capacity to afford Karlsson’s $11.5 million cap for this season and the next four seasons, but this is where Grier needs to get creative and keep a portion of Karlsson’s salary to make the trade possible.
And Carlson isn’t the only person Greer can move. Right defender Matthew Benning is contracted at $1.25 million for this season and the next three years. At 28 years old, he wouldn’t be in his prime when San Jose finally turned to the competitive corner.
The same goes for Sharks forwards Nick Bonino (34, an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season) and Thomas Hertel (29, but signed at a $8.31 million cap during the 2029-30 campaign).
Hertl would be more difficult to move, but also has a sure cost, making him attractive to a team like Seattle with the long-term space to match.
Center and leader Logan Couture, 33, is likely not going anywhere. But the Sharks’ most intriguing potential starting trade target for the Sharks is 26-year-old winger Timo Meyer, who will be a restricted free agent this season and whose $6 million salary this season will see a healthy hike. It would be an expensive acquisition for Meyer, but Grier should be able to get quality picks and above-average prospects for him.
Finally, in a market with few reliable goaltenders on the commercial block, the Sharks have 34-year-old James Raymer to shop. Like Hertl, Bonino, and Karlsson, Reimer has one form of a no-move/no-trade clause in his contract, but Reimer is in the final year of his contract that pays him a very reasonable $2.25 million, and he’s going to be strong. Depth capture for any potential business partner.
The Sharks are not making the playoffs this year, and it will be difficult for them to make the playoffs next year. This is why the status quo is not an option for Grier. He has the proprietary backing for demolishing most of the existing ones and starting over.
San Jose could end up winning the Connor Bédard sweepstakes, and that player is sure to accelerate rebuilding plans. But even if they fall short of first place, the Sharks will likely have a major player to add to their mix. Be it Adam Fantelli, Leo Carlsson, or any other potential. Taking out the veterans, and suffering through the rest of this miserable season for them, seems like the perfect path to real cup competition in the future.
Greer has just over five weeks to make major adjustments to his squad. He cannot exit the trade deadline with nothing to offer on the assets he is selling. He needs to hit his home run, help other teams in the short term, and lay the foundation for success in San Jose for a long time from now.