SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Sharks added some toughness and defensive depth at the trade deadline Wednesday by dealing draft picks to acquire forward Raffi Torres from Phoenix and defenceman Scott Hannan from Nashville.
The Coyotes received a third-round pick in this year’s draft for Torres while the Predators will get either a sixth or seventh-rounder for Hannan.
After starting the lead-up to the trade deadline by dealing bruising defenceman Douglas Murray, physical forward Ryane Clowe and centre Michal Handzus, general manager Doug Wilson made some additions to help a team that has won five straight games to move from ninth place to sixth in the Western Conference playoff race.
“This group earned that equity by their performance,” Wilson said. “They earned the ability and the need to add these type of guys who are playoff type guys and give you the depth that you need.”
Torres has a bad history with the Sharks, becoming a player the San Jose fans have loved to hate. He delivered a blindside hit to the head during the 2006 playoffs that knocked out Milan Michalek and was considered the turning point of the second-round series won by Edmonton.
Then he delivered a hard, clean hit that separated Joe Thornton’s shoulder during the 2011 Western Conference finals when he was in Vancouver.
“That’s exactly what you want,” Wilson said. “You hate playing against him, you want him on your side. He can skate. People know when he’s on the ice. But he can play, too. With Ryane moving on to New York, having that physical presence is very important. He’s a guy we are all very familiar with. He can play the game and he can get in there. The speed to his game is a big part of it. You want your physical presence to have speed.”
Torres memorably went too far with that physical play during Game 3 of a first-round series against Chicago last year. Torres launched himself into Marian Hossa and sent the Blackhawks forward sprawling to the ice. Hossa had to be taken off on a stretcher and missed the remainder of the series.
Torres wasn’t penalized for the hit, but the NHL hit him with a 25-game suspension, which was later reduced to 21 games. Torres has five goals and seven assists in 28 games since returning from the suspension early this season and said he has changed his game because of it
“My game was a little bit reckless,” he said. “My problem is I get a little too caught up in the moment and I feel like I need to go out there and throw that big hit. My problem was that it was almost kind of deteriorating my overall game. I’m at a point now where I’m not looking for the big hit. I’m trying to work on stick on puck and trying to take away the puck instead of taking the body. Mind you that I will not back down from trying to run someone over to change momentum. I think I just do it a little bit more cautiously now.”
That’s just what the Sharks need now that Clowe is gone. Despite scoring no goals in 28 games this season, Clowe had been a stalwart for years in San Jose known for his physical play and willingness to stand up for his teammates.
The 30-year-old Clowe has 101 career goals and 170 assists for 271 points in his eight seasons with San Jose, averaging more than 20 goals a season the previous four years. But he struggled this season and was dealt before he could become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“It’s tough losing Clowe,” forward Logan Couture said. “But there’s nothing we can do about it now. Move forward and we have a pretty good team in here. It’s tough losing a guy like that, a guy who’s done a lot for me personally and as a player. The four years with him was a lot of fun. That’s just the way this business goes.”
The pick for Torres was originally Florida’s and acquired by San Jose in the deal for Clowe.
Hannan had no goals, one assist and a minus-11 rating in 29 games for the Predators this season. Nashville will get a sixth-round pick if Hannan appears in a playoff game or a seventh-round pick if he does not. San Jose entered the day in sixth place in the Western Conference.
Hannan played eight seasons for the Sharks before leaving as a free agent following the 2006-07 season. Hannan is out with a neck injury and was acquired mostly to add depth to the blue line with Brent Burns now expected to stay at forward the rest of the season.
“If you’re going to make a run you have to have an abundance of defencemen who can play and have experience in those types of situations,” defenceman Brad Stuart said. “He does. It’s a good addition.”
The Sharks also signed defenceman Matt Irwin to a two-year contract to keep him off the free-agent market this summer.