SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The San Jose Sharks traded forward James Sheppard to the New York Rangers on Sunday for a fourth-round draft pick in 2016 in the team’s latest move for the future.
The 26-year-old Sheppard had five goals and 11 assists in 57 games with San Jose this season. He played mostly as a third-line center for the Sharks but also has played wing in the past. With Sheppard eligible to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, general manager Doug Wilson wanted to get whatever compensation he could before Monday’s trade deadline.
“Shep played well for us, but this is an opportunity to acquire more assets and get Tomas Hertl back to playing the center position,” Wilson said.
Hertl has struggled in his second season in the NHL while playing mostly wing but is expected to be a building block for the franchise as a center.
This move is part of a process that began in earnest after San Jose blew a 3-0 series lead to Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs last spring.
Wilson responded to that by saying the team needed to take a step back in order to take two steps forward and committed to younger players.
That step back has put San Jose in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2002-03 season. The Sharks have lost 10 of 13 games to fall into 10th place in the Western Conference. San Jose has also lost eight straight home games for the first time since the 1994-95 season.
“Nobody is pleased with the situation we’re in because we don’t feel like we’ve played up to our capabilities,” Wilson said. “We’re certainly not pleased with where we’re at, but we have to go forward.”
The Sharks have lost their past two games in regulation despite leading after two periods, a first in franchise history. The team responded by canceling practice Sunday for a players-only meeting. Wilson said he also talked to players on Sunday but that change needs to happen on the ice.
“We haven’t played hard enough long enough to get ourselves in a position we think we should be in,” he said. “Whether that happens going forward will be seen on the ice and not flushed out with words.”
The Sharks also could move additional pending free agents before Monday’s trade deadline, including goalie Antti Niemi, defensemen Matt Irwin and Scott Hannan and forwards Tyler Kennedy and Andrew Desjardins.
While San Jose is mostly targeting draft picks and prospects, Wilson said he would also look into acquiring proven players who could help the team long term — although he said that would be easier to do in the offseason.
This article was written by Josh Dubow from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.