Sharks make no moves at trade deadline
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP)
San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson stood pat at the NHL trading deadline on Wednesday, believing he already has the pieces in place to make the long playoff run that has eluded the team in recent years.
``We believe in them,'' Wilson said shortly after the deadline passed. ``We're pleased with our team and are looking forward to staying healthy as we go forward.''
San Jose entered the day atop the Western Conference standings with 89 points, two points ahead of Chicago. The Sharks trail Washington by one point for the most in the NHL.
Wilson said he had a few discussions with other teams before the trade deadline but did not see any deal that would improve his team under the constraints of the salary cap.
Wilson made two deals before the Olympic break, acquiring defenseman Niclas Wallin from Carolina for a draft pick and sending enforcer Jody Shelley to the New York Rangers.
``We have all the tools to move forward,'' goalie Evgeni Nabokov said. ``We are second in the league for a reason.''
Coach Todd McLellan said he is pleased with his team, which has undergone many changes since last summer with the addition of players such as Dany Heatley, Manny Malhotra, Scott Nichol and Jed Ortmeyer.
He also has confidence in a group of young players who have been shuttling back and forth from Worcester of the AHL for most of the season.
``We believe in the rest of the guys in the locker room,'' McLellan said. ``The leadership is there. The guys just have to go out and do it and make good on it.''
Regular season success is nothing new for San Jose but has not led to postseason glory. The Sharks set franchise records and NHL bests with 53 victories and 117 points last season. That raised hopes that after three straight second-round losses, the Sharks could finally get over that hump and into a Western Conference final or beyond.
But they struggled late in the season and then lost the first two games at home to the eighth-seeded Anaheim Ducks and were eliminated in six games. That marked just the third time since the current playoff format was adopted before the 1993-94 season that the team that won the Presidents' Trophy failed to get out of the first round.
Questions about playoff success will hound the Sharks in the upcoming weeks.
``Until we get to that point we won't be too sure about anything,'' captain Rob Blake said. ``We've accomplished what we needed to do so far in this season. We have 19 games left to secure a spot up top and move on to the postseason.''
The Sharks are missing defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who was placed on the injured reserve list with a lower body injury. He has missed nine straight games but is expected back before the end of the month.
The Sharks reassigned forward Dwight Helminen and defenseman Jason Demers to Worcester of the American Hockey League. McLellan said the team sent down Demers for a week to 10 days in order to get a better look at Wallin and Jay Leach, who was acquired from Montreal in December.