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NHL trade deadline: Is now the right time to deal Mikael Granlund?

NHL trade deadline: Is now the right time to deal Mikael Granlund?

SAN JOSE – Mikael Granlund has been everything the San Jose Sharks hoped he would be when they acquired him last summer as part of the deal that sent Erik Karlsson to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Granlund scored his seventh goal of the season Saturday in the Sharks’ 4-2 loss to the Nashville Predators, giving him 31 points in his last 35 games.

Through 43 games, Granlund is averaging a career-high 20:35 in ice time, helping fill the present void with both Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl injured and unavailable.

“I’ve had so much respect for him from afar without ever meeting him, thinking he was a hell of a player,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “Then you get to coach him and deal with him on a daily basis.

“There are few and far players in the league like him who bring that honesty. There’s no (b.s.) to his game.”

It’s easy, then, to see why Granlund might be general manager Mike Grier’s most valuable asset ahead of the NHL trade deadline on March 8.

The Sharks have a handful of wingers, like Anthony Duclair, Alexander Barabanov, Mike Hoffman, and Kevin Labanc, who could be on another team in less than two weeks.

But with only so many quality centermen available as the trade deadline nears, we can speculate that opposing general managers have checked in about a possible price tag for Granlund.

It should be high, and Grier shouldn’t waver.

With Granlund under contract for next season at a $5 million cap hit, what’s the rush to trade him right now?

Sure, if another team comes along and meets Grier’s price tag, Granlund, who turns 32 on Monday, should be traded for assets that better fit in with the Sharks’ long-term plan.

For now, though, as long as that price tag – whether it’s a first-round draft pick, a quality prospect or someone just breaking into the NHL – isn’t met, then there’s no harm in keeping Granlund in a teal uniform. He adds to the culture the Sharks are trying to build.

The same goes for defensemen Mario Ferraro and Jan Rutta, goalie Mackenzie Blackwood or any other Sharks player signed past this season.

A Granlund deal can also easily be made this offseason when more center-starved teams might be in the mix for his services, or even at the 2025 deadline when other GMs do not have to worry about creating as much cap space to fit in Granlund’s salary.

Waiting for what you want can be a good thing, as history has shown.

Exactly one year ago Monday, the Sharks sent Timo Meier, four other players, and a 2024 fifth-round pick to the New Jersey Devils for four players, including Zetterlund and defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin, and three draft picks, one of which was used to select forward Quentin Musty at No. 26 overall last year.

Meier was owed a $10 million qualifying offer as he was in the last year of a four-year, $24 million contract. But Grier, after much speculation, got the best deal he could, spurning other offers that included more draft picks and fewer older players, and pulled the trigger to try and lay part of the foundation for the future sooner rather than later.

“It was a unique situation because of the qualifying offer Timo was going to have. It was a little bit different situation than most guys in his position,” Quinn recalled. “So that probably hurt us a little bit in the return. But that being said, you look at the trade and I think we did very well.”

A Granlund trade won’t bring the same return as the Meier trade did.

Just last season, Granlund went from the Predators to the Penguins for a 2023 second-rounder. If the Sharks were to get the same kind of return – a 2024 second-rounder, for instance — before the deadline, they would have up to five draft picks in the first two rounds this year.

Grier would likely get a bigger return from the team he’s dealing with if he were to retain some of Granlund’s cap hit for the rest of this season and next.

But that would present another issue for the Sharks, who only have one retention spot left after Grier kept some salary on the team’s books in the Brent Burns and Karlsson deals.

Retaining some of Granlund’s contract might not only hamper efforts to move some of the Sharks’ pending UFAs this year, but any deals next year, as well, involving players with sizeable contracts.

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Perhaps getting the right package for Granlund supersedes all of those potential concerns.

But if the right package isn’t there for Granlund, there’s nothing with holding onto him, as he’s been a terrific fit in San Jose, providing what a rebuilding Sharks team needs.

“He could have a C on his jersey,” linemate Fabian Zetterlund said of Granlund. “He’s helped the team so much this year, in all ways, in the locker room and outside the rink.”

“He’s got this leadership ability to kind of talk to people in a mature manner, but he’s also has a fun side to him that endears himself to his teammates,” Quinn said. “He’s a guy that’s very valuable.”

Regardless of what happens, Granlund is keeping an even keel.

“I mean, there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said Saturday night. “So play hockey, enjoy the game. Playing in the NHL, it’s pretty fun. But really, there’s nothing you can do about it.”