Trade rumors have been following Ryane Clowe around for several weeks now, both before and after his suspension for cleverly jumping off the bench to slap at Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw. Scouts from Pittsburgh and Boston have been following the Sharks around a bit, and it’s no secret that both teams would like to add to their respective group of forwards. According to TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger, however, these rumors are more media driven than anything.
The fact is, Ryane Clowe has struggled for the Sharks this season. Mightily. The rugged winger, who is usually good for upwards of 20 goals and 50 points over a full campaign, finds himself goalless 24 games into this abbreviated season, while shuffling between all four lines. But regardless of that, teams around the NHL view this player as a top-six forward. And as such, nobody is expecting to find Ryane Clowe in the bargain bin between now and the NHL’s trade deadline on April 3.
According to Dreger, the price for Clowe will be high. A first rounder? Absolutely. A pair of seconds in addition? Quite likely. A prospect or a roster player? Possibly. If Clowe goes, it will cost the recipient of his services a pretty penny. And while that price might seem absurdly high, that’s simply the cost of doing business for a team that feels like it’s one player away.
Legitimate contenders like the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins boast a young enough core that they can afford a light year at the draft table. They can afford to part with a lower-line roster player, because their organizational depth allows it. While one might consider Clowe’s pending unrestricted free agency a mark against his value, both the Penguins and Bruins may actually be enticed by the financial flexibility his expiring contract will give them this summer.
For Pittsburgh, the opportunity to add a big body to their top six has to be of significant interest. Considering the injury history of their star players, adding Clowe as a protector who can chip in offensively might be just what the doctor ordered (pun, of course, intended). Boston has been looking to add to its top-nine for weeks now, and the injury to Chris Kelly will only increase their efforts to augment that group. Both teams are fast enough to more than make up for Ryane Clowe’s greatest flaw – his skating ability.
The Sharks, however, are not your typical seller. It’s quite possible that internally, the Sharks feel they are just a player away. While that might seem laughable given their recent struggles, it might not be too far removed from reality. The Sharks still have an immensely talented core, eight NHL-caliber defensemen on their roster, and a goaltender putting up Vezina-worthy numbers. They’ve also struggled to score, and, as a result, have bounced between the fourth and ninth seed in the West for the last few weeks. If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because last year’s Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings went through pretty much the same thing all season long.
Despite San Jose’s difficulty stringing together regulation wins, the Sharks have to like the way they stack up against the league’s elite. In recent years, the Sharks have put up stellar records against teams like Pittsburgh and Boston. They have beaten Vancouver twice this year. They owned Los Angeles in last year’s season series. They’ve taken three of a possible four points from the St. Louis Blues team that embarrassed them in the first round of last year’s playoffs.
So it seems unlikely, barring a one-for-one deal that benefits both the Sharks and their trading partner immediately as well as down the road, that Clowe will be going anywhere. If Dreger’s price is right, however, and someone makes Doug Wilson that offer? I imagine it would be hard to refuse.