As we always do with these trades, we reach out to our fellow SB Nation site for the team(s) involved. Today, we welcome Sie Morley, Managing Editor for Fear the Fin. It was supposed to reassure us Sens fans, but their analysis really just furthered my own frustrations with the trade.
Q: To Sens fans, we’ve heard of Chris Tierney and Dylan DeMelo, but don’t think very highly of them. They sound like a 3rd-line centre and a 5th defenceman. At ages 24 and 25 respectively, we don’t expect them to do much more growing. Are there any positives to these guys in a trade for the best defenceman alive that we don’t know of?
Sie: Despite what Sharks fans say on Twitter, Tierney probably tops out at 3C and realistically a very good 4C and is a two-way forward. DeMelo hasn’t gotten a look as anything other then a 6/7D, so it’s harder to judge what he’s capable of handling, simply because he hasn’t done it.
The good news is that these players have continued their development. They are young and haven’t started to get worse yet (as all players inevitably do), so while the Senators aren’t getting game-changers in this deal, they are getting players who have pushed themselves to get better year after year and are solid in the roles that they play.
Q: Who are Josh Norris and Rudolfs Balcers? Where do you project them ending up in an NHL lineup? Norris just showed up in your Top 25 Under 25 at 9th, and Balcers seemed to be higher than that -- is there anything else wee need to know about these guys?
Sie: Josh Norris was a controversial first round pick. He represents some of the worst of Wilson’s drafting strategies, which is playing it incredibly safe in the first round. He was one of the better forward prospects for the Sharks, and measured very well in how he affects his team’s scoring rates at UMich. He’ll almost certainly make the NHL, but whether he becomes the second-line player he’s been projected to be or falls to the bottom-six will be reliant on his development. I’ve also gotten the impression that he intends to finish school (though he hasn’t said as much directly), so that cuts out prime years. And as with any NCAA prospect, he has no real obligation to sign, which could always complicate things.
Spoiler: Balcers ranked 7th in our Top 25 Under 25 and a big piece of that is the lack of NHL-ready prospects the Sharks have. Though he didn’t play any games, he was called up last spring, which made it seem as though he’d be near the top of the list for a call-up this year. He’s likely a bottom-six guy, who has some speed and much like Karlsson (Melker, of course), could potentially fill in at various parts of the line up for short amounts of time. He’s not a huge body, which had been a concern of Sharks fans who would have rather not seen him broken.
Q: With Karlsson in the mix, the Sharkshave suddenly jumped to near the top of Stanley Cup favourites. Do you think there’s a chance of them re-signing him? Trading two of the better prospects from the Sharks, do you think this has shrunk the Sharks’ window for winning a Cup with Pavelski/Couture/Vlasic/Burns? Do you think this was necessitated by the Sharks getting older and older?
Sie: Wilson has made it clear that his goal is to re-sign Karlsson and that he’s part of San Jose’s future. All of the players you mentioned have signed extensions except for Pavelski, which would be the biggest wrinkle in contract negotiations. Can Joe and Joe come back next year? I don’t have that answer, but I do know how much these players love this city and this team. Joe Thornton has been willing for the last two years to take a discount if it means the Sharks can use that cap space to build a competitive roster.
I don’t think you can look at a trade where the Sharks lost a lot of youth and say it was necessitated by them getting older, but I do think there’s something to be said about the window closing for this particular core group of Sharks players. I think 2017 in particular was difficult for this team after their 2016 run, so 2018 and beyond is about wedging that window open for as long as possible. Joe Thornton deserves it.