Wilson trades for Stuart’s rights: not surprising but kind of odd

KuklasKorner : Petshark: Talking Stick : Wilson trades for Stuart’s rights: not surprising but kind of odd:

News that Doug Wilson had traded a conditional 7th round pick and talking rights with Andrew Murray for talking rights with Brad Stuart was met with general approval by Sharks tweeters. To me it seemed odd. When I say “odd” I don’t mean wrong or crazy, just less straightforward than it appears to be.

Brad Stuart will be a free agent on July 1, unless he signs a contract with the Sharks before that.  If, as was strongly rumored, Stuart had expressed a specific desire to come back to San Jose, why did Wilson have to trade anything at all to talk to him before July 1?  Why did he have to officially talk to him before then?  Because the market would swallow Stuart up with grand offers? 

This is a good deal for both sides. The Sharks get a couple of weeks to work out a deal with Stuart without time pressures. Stuart gets a chance to figure out if that deal can be made, since he clearly wants to avoid free agency if he can.

The Sharks give up Andrew Murray, an older July-1 free agent depth player that the organization wasn’t going to re-sign anyway, and if they sign Stuart, a 2014 7th round draft pick. That’s a minimal expense for a chance to take this deal off of July 1 and get it squared away ahead of time.

Think about this from the organizational standpoint, and it’ll be obvious why they did it. As of midnight July 1, the Sharks are going to have a number of players they’re contacting, and each of those players will have a number of teams contacting them. It gets really insane really quickly — not difficult to see them trying to coordinate talks with six agent/player combos all at once, and deals with some of those players contingent on what’s going on with other deals (or non-deals) with other players. 

Given that my feeling was that Dean Lombardi in LA was likely to be one of those July 1 bidders, and playing for the Kings isn’t quite as convenient to the family as playing for the Sharks, but it’s still pretty darn convenient (especially if the team gives him permission to visit family on off days and miss some of those practices), a team like the Kings or the Ducks could potentially force the Sharks to pay more for Stuart, or steal him away completely. 

So for minimal cost, Wilson brings Stuart in, gets him signed, or knows he can’t get the deal done, and on July 1, he’s reduced the number of players he’s chasing and simplified the strategy for the team so he can focus on other key needs. In return, Stuart gets what he wants — a return to San Jose — probably at some discount to what he’d get if he offered himself to all bidders, but he can settle in and not worry that something else might pop up and make a return to San Jose impossible. And since he wants to come back to San Jose, he loses nothing by doing this because he’s under no pressure to sign a deal he wouldn’t be willing to sign on July 1. Since he has the option to just go to July 1 and see what happens, Even if the deal doesn’t get made, it’ll set a floor value for him to use July 1, and that’ll help his agent if they need to find another team to work with. 

This deal is not a “hockey deal”, in that it’s not really about trading for talent. it’s about shifting time and risk around they make July 1 a less crazy day for the team management, which means they can (hopefully) focus more on solving other needs that day as well. 

So this deal works in small ways for everybody. We shouldn’t over think it, since it’s really the Sharks trading some mostly-disposable assets to make their life easier on July 1. It just happens Brad Stuart is at the center of that, but this deal isn’t about Brad, it’s about dealing with the business of July 1.