These days, Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher probably doesn't even need to look in his cell phone address book when he wants to get a hold of San Jose Sharks, GM Doug Wilson. He can just skim down his recent calls list and he should quickly happen on his favorite trade partner.
Fletcher and Wilson consummated another deal today with the Wild sending James Sheppard to San Jose in exchange for a third round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
To summarize the assets involved in Wild-Sharks trades over the past six weeks: The Wild gets Devin Setoguchi
, Dany Heatley
, Charlie Coyle
, a 2011 first round pick (Zack Phillips
) and the 2013 third rounder. The Sharks get Brent Burns, Martin Havlat, Sheppard and a second round pick in 2012.
The third round selection in 2013 will replace the pick the Wild gave up in its trade for Darroll Powe
And so ends the James Sheppard era in Minnesota. Sheppard, was the Wild's first round pick (ninth overall) in the 2006 Draft after a stellar 84 point season in Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Sheppard followed that session with 96 points in 56 games with the Screaming Eagles, but the offense didn't translate as expected in the NHL.
Immediately making the jump to the NHL in 2007-08, Sheppard scored four goals and 15 assists in his 78-game rookie season. He improved those numbers to five goals and 19 assists while playing every game the following year, but the hope of a breakout season didn't come.
In 2009-10, Sheppard scored just two goals and added four assists in 64 games. And of course, last year he never played a game for the Wild after suffering a serious knee injury in a non-hockey related accident.
Sheppard is a restricted free agent and his departure means the Wild has every one of its current players locked up with the exception of Mikko Lehtonen
, who has signed to play in Russia next season.
The move further solidifies Fletcher's intent to let younger Wild players like Colton Gillies, Cody Almond
and Casey Wellman battle for roster spots among forwards.
The departure of Sheppard means there are just two Wild first rounders (Mikko Koivu
and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
) that are still with the organization and were drafted prior to 2007.