For the first time since Al Iafrate, the Sharks have a true, #1 offensive defenseman to lead them into the playoffs. It was a great move by Sharks GM Doug Wilson to get the prize defenseman of today's trade deadline without giving up any core players. Bernier was liked in San Jose, but the consensus of Sharks fans is that it was time for Bernier to move since he hasn't really met the expectations of the organization.
DWilson also filled another gap on the roster, quietly picking up the tested veteran goalie in Brian Boucher that was needed to backup Nabby. Not many goaltenders can play every game like Nabokov has this season, and having someone like Boucher around to provide well needed and well deserved breaks will be a huge plus for San Jose. Boucher was hanging around the AHL with the Philadelphia Phantoms, but he should be able to step right back into the NHL with a top defensive team like the Sharks.
Rob Davison also has left the Tank, going to the Islanders for a draft pick. Davison is a big, gritty defenseman that will add toughness to the Islanders blue line. He was lamenting behind the logjam of young, talented defenseman in San Jose and was not getting much playing time (only 15 games this season). The Jody Shelley trade signalled the end for Davison.
The biggest surprise for Sharks fans was the fact that Patrick Marleau is still on the team. Unless DWilson just could not find any takers today, he just provided the Sharks Captain with a HUGE vote of confidence. Patty just has not been the same since coach Ron Wilson blamed him for the Sharks playoff exit against Detroit last season, and Marleau has lacked confidence. Now the Sharks have shown they still think Marleau can be the guy they drafted with the #2 pick in the 1997 draft (behind some nobody named Joe Thornton).
The pressure now has landed squarely on the shoulders of coach Ron Wilson. His GM was a buyer at the deadline and filled two huge holes on their roster. The vote for Marleau may not have been a vote against RWilson, but it sure can easily be viewed that way. If the Sharks don't close out the season strong and go DEEP into the playoffs, you can say adios to Coach Ron.
So we say goodbye to some old friends, embrace some new ones, and we look forward to the playoffs. Goodbye Steve, goodbye Rob, thank you for your service. Brian, do you know your way to San Jose?? See you tomorrow in Columbus!