Although the Sharks currently sit without a first round draft pick in next week’s NHL Entry Draft, Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson sat down with reporters on Wednesday to answer questions about the team’s direction and expected moves in the coming weeks.
While reporters hinted that the team might explore shuffling members of the existing roster, including one of the team’s talented goaltenders, Wilson responded without revealing too much of the organization’s plan. Click here
to watch a short video interview with Wilson.
“We’re comfortable, with the amount of picks that we have, that we’ll get players that will play for us,” said Wilson. “There might be some specific players that teams want. So I think you’ll see guys moving. And at the draft we always move up and down.”
Joining the Sharks without a first round pick this year is Atlanta, Buffalo, Dallas, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders and Tampa Bay, all of whom made the playoffs. By having eight teams without a first round pick this year, many other teams have found themselves with multiple first round picks.
“Right now Edmonton and St. Louis both have three, first round picks,” said Wilson. “Now whether they want to keep them or not, who knows. I think you’ll see quite a few trades, of picks anyhow. There are more trade discussions this time of year than I’ve ever seen. We’ve had conversations of moving up substantially or acquiring additional picks. And there’s more chatter and conversation now than the prior three years.”
Regardless of whether or not the Sharks make a big splash at the 2007 draft, Wilson noted that the Sharks will remain committed to their organizational philosophy of drafting and developing their young players.
“Under this system, drafting and developing is still really crucial to what you do. And for us, we have guys coming up that are thinking they are going to compete and make this team in training camp. Good for them. They should think that way.
“There are always going to be surprises at training camp. We want (our players) thinking that way. Why wouldn’t they think that way? Guys can come in and play. Look at (Marc-Edouard) Vlasic. People looked at us sideways on that, but he’s a hockey play. To be honest, I would trust him in a Game 7 in the playoffs as much as I would anybody.”
As far as the free agent market is concerned, Wilson acknowledged that in the same way that you draft and develop your players to put them into a position to compete for a roster spot, there is also a corollary.
“I think everyone has to understand that there comes a point that you may have to let people go. Ottawa let (Zdeno) Chara go, they let (Dominik) Hasek go and (Martin) Havlat, too,” said Wilson referring to personnel changes made by the Senators.
Despite losing their number one defenseman in Chara (free agency to Boston), their number one goaltender in Hasek (free agency to Detroit) and one of their most talented forwards in Havlat (three-way trade with Chicago and San Jose) before the 2006-07 season, Ottawa prevailed all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. While the Sharks may not look to follow Ottawa’s specific offseason path, Wilson is looking to upgrade his team in the same way he did by adding forwards Mike Grier and Curtis Brown to the roster one year ago.
“July 1st (the opening of the free agency period) is often irrational exuberance. It doesn’t always make sense. (The thought is) if you get a player for nothing, you can just flush it away. Emotions come into play again and so does the competitive natures of people. Some people have said that there’s more mistakes made in that first week, than any other time in the whole year. But there are also some good decisions that can be made.”
As Wilson and his staff continue to look to the future through the draft as well as the free agency period, they remain committed to constructing an environment that will be attractive to all players who may look to San Jose as a destination.
“Teams have a responsibility to build a place where players want to play. Now it’s even more important. And that’s the way it should be. Players should talk to other players. It’s really important to treat the players well on their way in as well as there way out. Look at Curtis Brown; he left and came back. If you’re not a place where a player wants to be, you’re going to have to overpay drastically.”
To follow San Jose’s progress through the 2007 NHL Entry Draft and the upcoming free agency period, be sure to Crash the Net at sjsharks.com.
Click here to watch Dan Rusanowsky's interview with Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson.