SAN JOSE (AP) — San Jose general manager Doug Wilson has seen more than enough from his team in the first three-quarters of the season to justify sacrificing a bit of the future for a playoff push.
So Wilson didn’t hesitate when he got the chance to add winger Jannik Hansen from Vancouver less than 24 hours before the trade deadline for former first-round pick Nikolay Goldobin and a conditional fourth-round pick that would turn into a first-rounder if San Jose wins the Stanley Cup.
“Our group should feel very good about themselves, where they are. I still think our best hockey is ahead of us,” Wilson said Wednesday after the deadline passed. “This is about building momentum down the stretch and playing the right way. We’re excited today. The players they feel good about where they’re at.”
The Sharks head into the stretch run in first place in the Pacific Division, five points ahead of Edmonton and seven in front of Anaheim. San Jose has two games in hand on the Oilers and one on the Ducks, putting the team in prime position for another playoff run after making it to the Stanley Cup Final a year ago.
Wilson believes the addition of Hansen only enhances those chances. Hansen scored 22 goals last year for the Canucks and has experience playing on the top line with the Sedin twins and in more of a checking role. He has been hampered by injuries this season with just six goals and seven assists in 28 games but is 100 percent healthy now.
“We think he plays the right way, he’s really versatile, he can go up and down in the lineup,” Wilson said. “His speed, obviously, his grit. He brings all the things that I think a playoff player epitomizes.”
Hansen jumped at the opportunity to leave the rebuilding Canucks and have another shot at the playoffs. The Canucks are in sixth place in the Pacific and were looking for young assets like Goldobin instead of a 30-year-old like Hansen.
Hansen said the Sharks were his top choice of the eight teams he was willing to be traded to and is excited to be on a contender.
“It’s a team that can win. That definitely played a huge part in putting them on there,” he said. “I’m very excited for the opportunity to play some meaningful games in the spring and hopefully in the early summer.”
Hansen has one year remaining on his contract and the Canucks will pay 20 percent of his remaining salary.
Hansen will not join the Sharks in time for Thursday’s game against the Canucks. He still must get his work permit approved and the team doesn’t know yet when he will be available to play or where he will fit into the lineup.
The deadline was also notable for a deal the Sharks didn’t make. Wilson opted against adding a more experienced backup goalie to ease the pressure on starter Martin Jones during a busy March that features 16 games.
But the Sharks have seen enough from first-year goalie Aaron Dell in his 10 starts this season to be confident to play him down the stretch, especially in some of the five back-to-backs San Jose has this month. Dell is 7-3-1 with a 1.95 goals against average this season.
“It was the body of work,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “I think we just kept putting him in there, expecting him to maybe hit a bump, and he didn’t. He just kept winning, kept playing well. Every time he went in there the guys had confidence, and just speaking to the guys, they felt he could do the job.”