The 2014 NHL draft kicked off Friday, June 27. The biggest news of the day for the San Jose Sharks had to be trading down in the first round with the Chicago Blackhawks.
It was far from the only news but anchors the photo list breaking down the time each story broke because it was the last and most significant development. The Sharks traded away the 20th pick in the draft and their sixth-round selection (179 overall) to get the 27th and 62nd pick.
More coverage of the move and subsequent pick of Nikolay Goldobin will follow in the draft review Sunday. At the very least, general manager Doug Wilson got good return in the first and most important news of the day. It also makes San Jose’s subsequent rounds (starting at 7:00 a.m. PDT) more interesting, especially early as the trade gave the team the 51st, 53rd and 62nd picks.
Prior to the draft, the San Jose Mercury News reported that a management departure has changed the team’s structure and it had bought out a contract for the first time ever. They also reported Thursday that Wilson reaffirmed he is looking for draftees that show mental toughness to prevent another collapse like what happened in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Meanwhile, NHL.com carried a piece in which Wilson reiterated chemistry issues were to blame for a collapse from a 3-0 series Stanley Cup series lead. There had been speculation that he would move some of those Sharks he said we “coworkers, not teammates” for 2014 draft picks.
The only player moved was the long-anticipated buyout of probably the worst example of that, Marty Havlat. As the team’s first-ever buyout, it does not have to count against the salary cap and leaves the team with one more such compliance buyout.
The question of whether there has been a bigger bust to wear teal is ironic given who was traded for him straight up. San Jose fans boo Dany Heatley every time he touches the puck and talk about how badly he underachieved, but the reality is he was far better than Havlat even for the size of the contract.
For one, the Sharks made it to the conference finals in both seasons Heatley was in teal. He played in 162 of 164 games, scored 65 goals and had 76 assists. His production did drop off in the Stanley Cup playoffs as did most of the team’s, but he was injured for the bad postseason of his two with the team and he did still play in 32 of 33 total games, scoring just five goals but notching 17 assists.
Havlat was a healthy scratch at times and his ability to play hurt in question for more of them while he took the ice for just 127 of 212 games in three seasons. He had 27 points in just 39 games in that first season, but just 40 points over the next two seasons. He scored his only three postseason points in his first three Stanley Cup games with the team, playing under 60 minutes total in San Jose’s next 21 postseason games.
If Havlat was defending during that time it would be different. He had a total of 21 hits, 41 blocked shots and 42 takeaways in three seasons. Heatley amassed 185 hits, 64 blocked shots and 67 takeaways in his two seasons that did include 35 more games played, but as they say the best ability is durability.
Even after he left the offensively-skilled Sharks for the lower-scoring Minnesota Wild, Heatley played in 194 of 212 games and scored 47 goals with 55 assists. In the Stanley Cup playoffs, he was in for 11 of their 18 games with a goal and five assists. That is definitely more than half-again Havlat’s production for half-again the pay.
As a news story, even the combination of a first-ever buyout and the release of such a bust hardly registered. Havlat’s buyout had not only been anticipated this season, but was expected last summer before off-season surgery made him ineligible. Wilson had also confirmed they would part company just over a week after the team became the fourth team to choke a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Likewise, John Ferguson’s departure as San Jose’s director of pro scouting to become exectuve director of player personnel for the Boston Bruins should barely affect the team. David Pollack’s article described some reshuffling of roles in the department that may have actually begun with Larry Robinson’s expansion into the front office in May.