Five most tradeable Sharks players ahead of March deadline


The Sharks, despite their 8-13-4 record entering Wednesday's game, have their share of excellent players, though they don’t have a lot of easily tradeable ones.

Blame the contracts – in a vacuum, any team in the NHL would love Erik Karlsson’s offensive derring-do on the blueline, Logan Couture’s dedicated two-way play up the middle or Tomas Hertl’s ability to dominate down low in the offensive zone. Even Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who has struggled in recent years, has re-emerged as a capable defensive stopper.

But there aren’t many franchises that can seriously consider taking on the remaining four years of Karlsson and Couture’s contracts or last seven seasons of Hertl’s newly-commenced max deal. That’s the reality of a hard $82.5 million dollar salary cap, especially when it comes to aging vets.

That said, the Sharks do have tradeable players, appealing both for their more appetizing contracts and on-ice contributions.

Let’s take a look at the five most tradeable Sharks. 

Timo Meier

If – and it’s a big if – Meier seriously gets shopped, he might command the highest price of any forward in the NHL likely to be moved before the March 3, 2023 deadline.

It’s not every day that a bona fide first-line winger, just 26, with just a $6 million AAV, hits the open market. Even as a pure rental, Meier -- a pending Restricted Free Agent -- can be that one player to put a Stanley Cup contender over the top.

What Meier can bring to any team is an ability to create his own shot from virtually anywhere in the offensive zone – he’s instant offense. Underscoring that, the machine-gun winger is on pace for 400 shots this season. If he were able to surpass that figure, it’d be just the 15th time in NHL history. Meier would also be just the second player, Alex Ovechkin three times, to accumulate 400 or more shots in the past two decades.

Big picture, Meier’s value is capped by his $10 million dollar qualifying offer – basically, if a team trades for Timo, they probably want to be sure that he’s going to be around for a while – but if a team sees him as part of their core, they're almost certainly going to be able to re-sign the star winger to a long contract at a lower AAV than the qualifying offer.

RELATED: Trade rumors to affecting Meier, Couture

Could Meier command an Alex DeBrincat package (No. 7 and 39 picks in the 2022 Draft, third-rounder in 2024 Draft) on the open market? Both Meier and DeBrincat were prolific scorers about to hit restricted free agency. The 24-year-old DeBrincat is younger, a better finisher, and has been more consistent over his career than Meier, while Meier is probably the overall higher-impact player.

James Reimer

Reimer will be appealing to any team that’s looking for high-end insurance in net. 

Adding to his appeal is a team-friendly contract – the pending Unrestricted Free Agent -- has just a $2.25 million dollar cap hit.

However, despite his exemplary performance in difficult circumstances – last year, he became the first Sharks goalie to register a Save Percentage over .910 since 2017-18 (.911) – he’s not thought of as a top-flight starter for a contender.

San Jose’s best hope, probably, is to net a second-rounder for Reimer, though that might be too rich. The Chicago Blackhawks, through various machinations like having middle-man Toronto Maple Leafs retain salary, were able to get a second-rounder from the Vegas Golden Knights for Robin Lehner at the 2020 Trade Deadline.

But Lehner at the time probably was regarded more highly league-wide than Reimer is right now.

Alexander Barabanov

Barabanov has proven to be a solid complementary winger on a skill line, be it with a Hertl or a Couture. He won’t carry a trio like a Meier and needs to be surrounded by other skill forwards, but if a team needs a little offensive injection in their lineup, the 27-year-old winger can definitely help.

Barabanov’s relatively low-cost two-year, $5 million dollar contract, inked last offseason, is also part of his appeal.

He’s underrated hanging onto the puck: Per SPORTLOGiQ, Barabanov was third on the Sharks in both Controlled Zone Entries and Offensive Zone Possession rates at 5-on-5 at the quarter mark of the season.

But the truth of the matter is, somewhat one-dimensional middle-six skill wingers don’t garner much in trades.

An older, but still dangerous Ilya Kovalchuk was able to attract a third-round draft pick during the 2020 Trade Deadline. That might be about what to expect for Barabanov. Perhaps a second-rounder, at best.

Matt Nieto

Notching his fifth goal in the Sharks' win Tuesday night, Nieto is enjoying a surprising offensive campaign next to Couture and Barabanov. But the 30-year-old still is seen as a fourth-line penalty-killing specialist around the NHL.

Nieto is a pending UFA and has just a near-minimum $850,000 cap hit this season, so any team can afford him.

Credit where credit is due though, Nieto’s speed has been put to good use, and he has been smart with the puck: Per SPORTLOGiQ, he’s fourth on the Sharks in both Controlled Zone Entries and Zone Exits rate at 5-on-5.

The Sharks can look in their own backyard for a realistic trade comp: At the trade deadline last year, they got a fifth-round draft pick from the Colorado Avalanche for Andrew Cogliano.

Nico Sturm

Like Nieto, Sturm has enjoyed a surprising offensive campaign with six goals in 20 contests. But like Nieto, I don’t think anybody’s sold on Sturm being a consistent scorer.

The 27-year-old is far more expensive than Nieto too, in the first season of his three-year, $6 million dollar contract.

But Sturm is seen, I think correctly especially after his Stanley Cup-winning turn with the Colorado Avalanche last year, as a player that you win with. He’s an all-out competitor who would be a perfect fourth-line center on any team, as he was for the defending champs.

He's a luxury, but he’s a luxury that helps a team win.

RELATED: Are Sharks better than their record indicates?

A testament to that, Sturm is fourth on the Sharks in Puck Battle Win rate at 5-on-5, according to SPORTLOGiQ. He’s someone that teams want in the trenches, which playoff hockey is often about.

It’s hard to find a comp for Sturm, an ace 4C PK’er who might just be a tad overpaid. I might be overvaluing him, but I wonder if he can get a third-round draft pick back in return?

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