For the third time this offseason and the fourth time in about 13 months, San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson and Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher completed a trade. No, it wasn’t the vigorously debated Jason Demers for Cal Clutterbuck swap, but nonetheless the Sharks did pry yet another Minnesota player away from the Wild—if you want to call it that.
The Sharks will receive 2006 first round pick in forward James Sheppard in exchange for a third round selection in the 2013 NHL entry draft. From listening to the various twitter feeds, it appears many Wild followers couldn’t be happier to be see the once highly touted prospect leave the organization. Instead of repeating Sheppard’s detailed history here, take a look at the blog of Sharks beat writer David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News…
As Pollak points out, Sheppard missed all of last season due to the knee injury occurred during the previous offseason. Although Sheppard was taken ninth overall in the 2006 draft and played immediately in the NHL the following season, nothing since has seemed to have gone according to plan for the 23-year-old. In his first season he notched 19 points in 78 games and backed it up with 24 points the following year in 82 games. Not exactly impressive offensive numbers for a heralded prospect to begin with and a third season definitely was not the charm. During the 2009-10 campaign Sheppard notched a mere six points in 64 games.
Now I’ll confess, unlike the many scouts in the league, I have no “book” on Sheppard’s talents, so in a way, my guess is as good as yours in projecting what type of future he will have in San Jose.
In theory, based of Sheppard’s numbers, the most reasonable comparison to make is that he is a slightly more skilled version of Jamie McGinn but with a severe, Torrey Mitchell-esque injury to overcome.
With a two-way contract that will pay him around $700,000 at the NHL level, Sheppard may not even sniff the NHL roster with the Sharks but at the same time he could end up on the third line left wing in replace of McGinn if everything goes his way. After all the forward depth in San Jose certainly isn’t the strength of the organization.
While many will point out that the minimal success rate of third round draft choices making it to the NHL, the third round draft choice does seem a bit high for a player with poor numbers and a serious knee injury.
After all, the Sharks acquired Ian White at the trade deadline last season to be their No. 2 puck moving defenseman and sent a second round pick to Carolina to make the deal. Yet for a third round choice they receive a player who may not even make the roster?
Furthermore, the defenseman Colin White, who San Jose signed earlier this week was bought out by the cash-strapped New Jersey Devils. Plenty of experts seem to pencil White in as a solid third pair option who could fill in a top-4 role in a pinch. Yet the Devils organization couldn’t find a trade suitor for White to take his only somewhat hefty $3.o M contract? Not even a fifth, or a sixth round pick? Instead they elected to pay him $2.o M (which goes against their cap) to play for another team?
Yes, the Devils needed to save cap room but it seems odd that Sheppard would fetch a third rounder in return in comparison to some of the other deals out there. However, that is based purely on his production.
What the third rounder given up might signify is the Sharks organization’s high level of confidence that a change of scenery will restore the top-10 selection potential Sheppard showed in major juniors. After all, former Shark and highly touted winger in Milan Michalek suffered a serious knee injury that knocked him out for nearly his entire rookie year of 2003-04. But Michalek, San Jose’s sixth overall selection in 2003, returned after the lockout to post point totals of 66, 55, and 57 for the Sharks before being traded away in the Dany Heatley deal.
Clearly Sheppard needs the change of scenery to simply get away from the organization which suspended him for his offseason injury. But will that change of scenery include a bounce back in production? We ‘ll just have to wait and see, but at the minimal cap hit, anything close to a consistent two-way left winger with 25 points would be quite a value.