Which tells us at least one thing about Marleau: He has a terrific sense of humor.
That’s not to say that there’s no substance to the story. The 36-year-old has been the subject of trade rumors for much of the past decade and it’s entirely possible that now, with the Sharks swimming in rapidly decreasing circles yet again, that he wants out of San Jose.
But likely? No.
Because if Marleau had any real interest in leaving the Sharks after 18 (!) seasons, he wouldn’t make it so difficult for GM Doug Wilson.
Asking to be sent to Los Angeles or Anaheim? That would be like P.K. Subban telling the Canadiens he’d accept a trade to Boston or Toronto. The last thing the Sharks want is for their former captain to remain within the Pacific Division, ideally situated to torment them the rest of the way. They have three dates remaining this season with the Kings and two with the Ducks. Those are games that could make or break their playoff hopes.
The Kings also make for a lousy match from a practical perspective. They’re already tight up against the cap, with less than $1.5 million of space available, meaning they’d have to move one or more significant contracts as part of the deal to fit Marleau and his $6.6 million hit. They also lack the future assets that might appeal to the Sharks. They’ve already moved their 2016 first rounder to Carolina in the Andrej Sekera trade, and with their system nearly barren of prospects it’s hard to imagine them divesting themselves of someone like Adrian Kempe, Nick Shore or Valentin Zykov.
The Ducks, on the other hand, probably could make a Marleau deal work. They have both the cap space and a fairly deep pool of young talent, both at the NHL level and in the system, that would allow them to make a trade without harming themselves long term. And as they’re slowly finding their form after a brutal start, they might be interested in adding a versatile top-six forward with a bit of speed in his game. But like the Sharks, they’re in no big hurry to send someone like Nic Kerdiles or Shea Theodore to a divisional rival and have to face them down the road, either.
As for the Rangers? Well, Marleau would be out of sight, all right. And from a player’s perspective, it’s easy to understand the appeal of playing for the Blueshirts, an Original Six team with a legitimate shot to win the Stanley Cup this season and next. Who wouldn’t welcome that for the final two years of his current contract?
Of course, it’s that contract that makes the Rangers an unlikely fit. Even if they had the assets to build an interesting package (which they don’t after trading away three first-round picks, two second-round picks andAnthony Duclair within the past three years), New York has just over a million dollars to play with this season. So unless the Sharks were willing to take on a bad contract in return (say, Dan Girardi, who has a no-movement clause along with a brutal hit that counts $5.5 million against the cap through 2020-21), it’s hard to see these two teams as partners.
Again, none of this precludes a deal from happening, but the rumored destinations don’t add up.
Apparently Marleau’s wife doesn’t think much of them, either.
The numbers game
• Alex Ovechkin failed to break Sergei Fedorov's NHL career record for goals by a Russian player (483), but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. He peppered Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek with 15 shots, equaling his career high set on Oct. 7, 2006 vs. the Hurricanes.
• With his goal against the Capitals on Tuesday night, forward Andreas Athanasiou became the fourth Red Wing—and first in 66 years—to pot his first NHL tally in a 1-0 victory. The last to do it was Steve Black on Oct. 29, 1949 at Montreal.
• The Rangers, who at 11-2-2 have tied their franchise record for the best 15-game start to a season, have won 17 of their last 18 games against the Hurricanes dating back to Feb. 22, 2011.
• A famous autocorrect error is now a team-approved t-shirt. The internet sure knows how to have fun.
• The stars of the Canadiens share memories of how their fathers helped pave their path to the NHL on the eve of the team’s biannual dads road trip.
• Buzzfeed offers a gif-filled look back at 21 badass moments in Canadian women’s hockey history.
• The WHL’s Saskatoon Blades are the latest team to schedule a Star Wars appreciation night, and boy are their special occasion sweaters something else.
• Craig Button’s draft rankings always skew wide of the mainstream view, which means they’re always worth a look. Here’s his early take on the top prospects of 2016.