San Jose Sharks (13-4-3) at St. Louis Blues (6-7-4), 5:00 PM PST
Way, way, way, way,way back when, Doug Wilson tested my faith in him by making one of the dumbest trades in Sharks history. If you'll remember the horror of the 2002-03 season, that was the year when it all fell apart, when the Sharks -- picked by such glamourous prognosticators such as Barry Melrose to win the Stanley Cup -- fell flat out of the gate and just never recovered. It marked the end of the Darryl Sutter era and it brought about one of the biggest trades in Sharks history: Owen Nolan for Brad Boyes, Alyn McCauley, and draft picks.
The rumors had been swirling for weeks, but ultimately the word came out that the centerpiece of the deal was Brad Boyes, a former first rounder by the Maple Leafs. He wasn't the best skater, but people talked about his swift hands and keen hockey sense.
That trade was made by Dean Lombardi, a guy I still think did a bang-up job as GM (except for all those contract negotiations). His successor Doug Wilson saw the rebuilding Sharks, under new coach Ron Wilson, overachieving in the following year, though a nasty Marco Sturm injury forced the team to re-think its forward lineup.
Exit Brad Boyes. Enter Curtis Brown.
These days, Doug Wilson's lauded for pretty sound moves, even though some of them work out and some of them don't. But back then, we didn't know what to expect from the new Sharks GM, and moving the key player in the Owen Nolan deal (all due respect to Alyn McCauley, who I always liked as a player) for a checking center who'd only eclipsed 20 goals twice in his NHL career to that point, well, that seemed pretty stupid to me. And it seemed pretty stupid to every other Sharks fan I knew.
In his first full NHL season, Boyes put up 26 goals and 69 points. Two years later, he tallied 43 goals, and last year he put up 33.
Sweet Jebus, what was Doug Wilson thinking back then?
For the past two years, every time the Sharks play the St. Louis Blues, all I can think about is that horrific trade. Had the Sharks kept Boyes, one has to wonder how he would have developed. The entire team could have played out differently -- perhaps the Joe Thornton deal would have never occurred, and the Sharks top two centers during that era would have been Patrick Marleau and Boyes. Guys like Brad Stuart and Marco Sturm may have been moved for different pieces, and it's certain that Jonathan Cheechoo would have never hit 56 goals.
Would the team have done better? It's hard to tell. With several seasons already passed, and the hindsight knowledge of how aggressive Doug Wilson can be when he wants to, who knows how the roster might have shaped up.
So maybe it's better that the Boyes-for-Brown trade happened, but that's a shot in the dark. All I know is that if you just focused in on that particular move, it was one of the dumbest trades I'd ever seen and made absolutely zero hockey sense.
The Blue I Would Like On My Team: Brad Boyes, simply because he's the focus of this entire post.
Prediction: Sharks 4, Blues 1. Goals by Heatley, Clowe, Pavelski, and Boyle.