DOUG WILSON: THE CONSTANT HORSETRADER

by Ron Spence

There’s been talk of a Sens/Sharks swap – Dany Heatley for unnamed parties.

Doug Wilson has a history of big trades (He was named the Sharks’ GM on May 13, 2003, replacing his former boss, Dean Lombardi.).

Wilson wasn’t that active – in the trade market – during his first three years as top dog, and didn’t acquire a free agent until 2006.

His first move was to toughen up the Sharks, and he grabbed Scott Parker from Colorado for a 5th round pick – a month after his hire.

Then, he had an extra pick from Toronto – 21st overall – from Lombardi’s Owen Nolan trade and swapped that – plus his 66th and 107th selections in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft – for the 16th overall pick – Steve Bernier.

After trading the Kipper, Wilson swapped Jeff Jillison and the Sharks’ 2005 7th round pick for Curtis Brown and Andy Delmore – and traded the latter to Boston for future considerations that same day – March 9th, 2004.

Wilson made few trades until the 2006 post-season, when he swapped a 2nd round pick – 53rd overall – and a 1st round pick – 20th overall – to acquire Montreal’s 16th overall pick – Ty Wishart.

He also traded two players for Mark Bell and two more for Carolina’s 2nd round pick in the 2007 Entry Draft.

Wilson had players to spare with his free agent signings: Mike Grier, Graham Mink, Scott Ferguson, Matthieu Darche, Patrick Travers, Matthieu Biron,  and re-signing Curtis Brown.

For the next while, Wilson could do no wrong.

The Devils were having cap problems with Vladimir Malakhov’s $3.6 million salary, so Wilson took him off of Lou Lamoriello’s hands for a 1st round pick and a couple of throwins.

That was on October 1st, 2006, and on November 30th, he acquired Joe Thornton for Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau.

The Thornton swap energized the Sharks and San Jose became a top echelon team.

On a roll, Doug Wilson made the first of his many deadline deals.

On February 25th, 2007 he traded Josh Gorges and his 1st round choice – in 2007 – for Craig Rivet and Montreal’s 5th round choice in 2008.

And two days later, he acquired Bill Guerin from St. Louis for Ville Nieminen, Jay Barriball  and that 1st round pick that New Jersey had given him.

Guerin didn’t stay with the Sharks, but this didn’t stop Wilson from continuing to roll the dice.

On June 22, 2007, he traded the 2nd of his Euro goalies – Vesa Toskala – and the troubled Mark Bell to Toronto for three draft picks.

The top Toronto picks – the 13th and 44th overall – were traded – along with San Jose’s 3rd round pick in 2008 – for St. Louis’ 9th overall pick in the 2007 Entry Draft (San Jose retained Toronto’s 2009 4th round pick from the Toskala trade.).

Then, late in the same 1st round, Wilson traded two 2nd round picks to Buffalo – the 41st pick in 2007 and the a 2008 2nd round pick – to move up to the 29th spot – and he selected defenseman Nick Petrecki.

The following 2008 deadline, Wilson gave up another of his 1st round picks – and Steve Bernier – to acquire Brian Campbell and Buffalo’s 2nd round choice in 2008.

Campbell, like Guerin, left for greener pastures, and Wilson made two significant trades during the 2008 post-season. He swapped Ty Wishart, Matt Carle, San Jose’s 1st round selection in 2009, and a 4th round selection in 2010, for Dmen Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich.

Wilson next dipped into the 2008 free agent market and signed Dman Rob Blake, and was able to trade Craig Rivet and his 7th round choice in 2010, for Buffalo’s 2nd round choices in 2009 and 2010.

Wilson recently swapped two players – Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich – with Vancouver, to create some salary cap space.

sjcourtesy of hockeydb.com

What are the results of Doug Wilson’s constant horsetrading?

The Sharks finished first overall – last season – and won the President’s Trophy, but were defeated during the first round of the playoffs.

Doug Wilson twice gave up 1st round picks for rental players – Guerin and Campbell – and swapped up for two draft picks – Ty Wishart and Steve Bernier – and then traded them away

With all of this trading, the Sharks had few draft selections in the 2009 Entry Draft.

This has resulted in San Jose having a weak farm system – Hockey’s Future ranks San Jose 21st of the 30 NHL teams.

prospectscourtesy of hockey’sfuture.com

Could Dany Heatley improve the Sharks?

In the short term – depending on who they would have to give up.

But, Doug Wilson can’t trade away any more of San Jose’s future, because there isn’t much to give.

*****

Doug Wilson learned something early in his GM career that Bryan Murray should take note of – you don’t always get what you want for a player who needs to be moved.

Six months into his tenureship, on November 16, 2003, Wilson had to trade one of his three very talented goalies. He had to swap Miikka Kiprussoff for only a second round pick in the 2005 Entry Draft.

Fortunately, San Jose’s compensation, Dman Marc-Edouard Vlasic has been one of the Sharks’ best picks.


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2 responses to “DOUG WILSON: THE CONSTANT HORSETRADER

  1. My initial reaction to your article is simply, keen sense of the office, you outline his trades and the rating of the team from futures, but make no real comment. You say he has very little future to trade but make no suggestion as to what he should do or what others have done given the same situation. I know writers are suppose to stay neutral and just report, but bringing in Lemieux et al after all the horse trading was like getting to the top of Mt. everest and wondering what to do! He should have retrenched and planned out the last few moves at the time, then made the moves to get over the top top. Doug got them to the top but just had not planned on what to do when they got there.That is when the real horse trading starts. D

  2. Thanks for your observation.
    He can’t trade any of the future because he doesn’t have any.
    He has to decide who to keep and who to trade.
    He has kept his core group. Should he trade one of them for Heatley?
    It seems that he needs leadership and chemistry and I don’t think Heatley is the guy to bring that to the Sharks.
    I think that Doug put together a very good team last season – at considerable expense to the Sharks’ future.
    But, they lacked the character and leadership to push them over the top.
    And his expensive goalie and D were allowing Anaheim to score 3 goals a game.

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