Wednesday, January 18, 2012

NHL Trade Speculation: 3 Players the San Jose Sharks Will Inquire About

San Jose Sharks' GM Doug Wilson always seems to come alive this time of year. With a little over a month before the NHL Trade Deadline, rumors of Wilson on the trade prowl have crept into the Twitterfeeds, blogs and rumor mills of Hockey Nation.

Wilson's reputation as a trade machine even garnered the attention of NBC Sport's Pro Hockey Talk, as he recently explained the trade strategy he has when dealing with other teams.

Even worse this season for opposing GM's, Wilson has players to trade and teams are more than interested. Instead of the usual pattern of Wilson inquiring about players and going to teams, teams will be coming to him this season because he has players that could be of great value to them.

Antero Niittymaki has not been shy when expressing his frustration as the "third guy" in net for the Sharks. He is sure to be traded before the February 27 deadline.

Other Sharks that could be on the trading block are apart of the depth on defense. Jason Demers and Justin Braun come to mind if Wilson wants to deal for large support on the top two lines while Martin Havlat is still recovering from injury. Also, do not be surprised if Torrey Mitchell's name gets thrown around if Wilson covets a more seasoned player on the third line.

Here are three players Wilson is sure to inquire about before February 27.

Tuomo Ruutu

Rumors swirling about Ruutu being shopped by the Carolina Hurricanes have intrigued a few teams over the past month. The Sharks, Penguins and Red Wings seem to be the serious contenders. Ruutu has 15 goals and 11 assists so far this season.

The Hurricanes are ranked third to last in goals against, averaging 3.17 per game, and clearly lacking in the goalie department. The team sits in a tie for last place in the Eastern Conference, but if they want to make a play for next season, we might see them make a move for the Sharks' Niittymaki or Thomas Greiss, while adding in Jason Demers or Justin Braun. In return, Ruutu could be headed to San Jose.

Teddy Purcell

It is no secret the Tampa Bay Lightning need a goalie, ranking dead last this season in goals against per game this season. They also sit in a tie for dead last in the Eastern Conference with 40 points.

Purcell has been a slight disappointment this season, as an upstart 51-point 2010-11 season figured to be just the beginning for the young winger. However, an up-and-down 2011-12 has him sitting at 24 points in 44 games played this season, which is no improvement, but no disappointment nonetheless.

The kicker here is that Purcell and Sharks' winger Ryane Clowe are good friends, dating back to their ties in Newfoundland. The two could reunite in San Jose if Wilson can find a way.

For Wilson to pull it off, it will take a lot more than talk of a past friendship. The Sharks will need to offer Niittymaki and throw in others like Mitchell and either Demers or Braun to pull this one off.

Drew Stafford

Similar to the Purcell offering, it will take a lot to get Stafford to San Jose. The Buffalo Sabres have been open about the possibility of trading Derek Roy, Stafford or Brad Boyes before the trade deadline. Stafford has been in a slump this season, and the team is a disappointing 19-22-5, as well.

Again, it will take a similar trade involving Demers and Mitchell if Wilson want to pull this one off.

The Sharks would like some serious thump on the third line. Depending on how Havlat's recovery develops between now and the end of February, we could see Stafford be a nice replacement for San Jose's loss if the Sharks get desperate enough on the offensive front.

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