SAN JOSE, Calif. – Although the San Jose Sharks took a good look at the player rental market, they elected to stick with the skaters who got them to the top of the NHL standings.
General manager Doug Wilson acquired only left wing Travis Moen and defenceman Kent Huskins from the Anaheim Ducks at Wednesday’s deadline, sending a vote of confidence to his locker room despite three losses in the Sharks’ last four games.
The two Stanley Cup-winning veterans will add depth to the Sharks, who began the day in a tie with Boston atop the NHL standings.
Moen and Huskins aren’t likely to be big contributors or big risks in the Sharks’ attempt to win their first NHL title.
Instead, the Sharks’ hopes will rest with the core of their roster: Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle, Rob Blake and Evgeni Nabokov, who likely won’t get significant reinforcements in the season’s final weeks.
Wilson kept together the Sharks’ core, including right wing Jonathan Cheechoo, the subject of numerous trade rumours.
“We believe in the group that’s in there,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said after Tuesday night’s 4-1 loss to Dallas, the worst home defeat of San Jose’s season.
“We’re going to have tough nights,” McLellan added. “Our start and our record has put us in a position where demands are put on us from outside that locker room to be the best every night.
“The intent is there. The confidence is there. We’ve just got to get a little polish in our game. It may take us a little while to get there, but we’re going to get that back in our game.”
The Sharks have tried renting star players at the deadline before.
Most recently, they added defenceman Brian Campbell at last season’s trade deadline, and they picked up veteran forward Bill Guerin in 2007 for the stretch run.
Neither big-money player performed particularly well in the postseason, and both left the Sharks for huge contracts elsewhere a few months later. Moen and Huskins both will be free agents at the end of the season.
Moen has just four goals and seven assists in 63 games with the Ducks this season, his fourth NHL campaign, but is best known for his checking and physical play.
He also developed a reputation for clutch post-season scoring during the Ducks’ title run in his rookie season by getting three game-winning playoff goals, including the eventual winner in the Cup-clinching victory over Ottawa.
Moen is expected to play with Cheechoo on San Jose’s third line while Mike Grier is sidelined with a knee injury that could keep him out until the postseason.
Huskins has played in just 33 games in his third NHL season while sitting out since Dec. 31 with a broken foot, but Wilson said he’ll be cleared to play this weekend.
If he’s healthy, he could be a welcome addition to a defensive corps that has struggled in recent weeks.
Neither Sharks newcomer is expected to play in Thursday’s home game against Minnesota, but both should be ready for Saturday’s game in Vancouver.
“These two players understand that the team comes first,” Wilson said. “They have both won a Stanley Cup and will be great additions to our club, without cannibalizing any of our current players’ roles.”
The Sharks also formally cut ties with veteran defenceman Kyle McLaren, dealing him to Philadelphia for a sixth-round pick this summer.
The oft-injured McLaren fell out of favour with coach Ron Wilson last year and couldn’t get back in with McLellan this season, resulting in his banishment to the Sharks’ AHL affiliate in Worcester.
The Sharks also sent left wing Lukas Kaspar back to their minor-league affiliate in Worcester after one game.