We'll give you moment to let that soak in.
Everyone back? OK good. This is not a move I saw coming at all, but not one I am sorry to see made, and not one we are likely to see many Wild fans overly upset about. Sheppard was what ever the opposite of a fan favorite is, a pariah with the credentials to deserve the tag.
What do we think of this trade? After the jump.
First, from our friends at Fear the Fin, it appears at least that expectations are properly managed:
All in all, you get an under-performing winger with some serious injury questions. Not the prettiest picture, but there are still some reasons why Doug Wilson was keen on acquiring him.
First, Sheppard is young. At just 23, he still has time to recapture some of his potential. Second, he's a huge kid coming in at 6-2, 210. Third, there is an absolute dearth of forward talent in the Sharks pipeline. Taking a chance on a former top-ten draft pick may not be the worst idea.
If the Sharks wanted a former top-ten pick, they really should have called earlier. The Wild had a shiny third overall pick on defense that would have looked great in teal. Moving on.
Sheppard's stats are, shall we say, unimpressive:
One season in the Q that showed any real promise, ninth overall pick, thrown into the NHL without earning the spot, development completely ruined by the HWSRN regime, a career on a downward spiral, all fittingly punctuated by an ATV accident during a training trip to Colorado that ended his make or break season before it ever started. James Sheppard has been a punchline in Minnesota for nearly seven years, and Chuck Fletcher got something of value in return for him.
Well done, Mr. Fletcher. Well done, indeed.
To Sharks fans, we offer our sincere thanks, and our deepest sympathies. What your general manager sees in James Sheppard escapes me. Six points in 64 games in his last season played, with no real hint at anything more before that crash does not tell me that there is lighting in that bottle. If Wilson wanted a helium balloon on the ice, I'm thinking a trip to the local party supply store would have been cheaper.
According to Russo on Twitter, Sheppard is not expected to be ready for training camp (which we had inclinations of in late July) after having more work done on his knee. This just makes this move even more confounding. They trade a third round pick for a player who has shown absolutely nothing in his three NHL seasons, is an unsigned RFA who held out after being offered a qualifying offer with a two way deal he didn't deserve, and isn't even going to be ready to participate in camp?
The words honestly escape me.
I'll give credit where it is due. Doug Wilson has built a franchise in San Jose that is beyond reproach. Perennial playoff team with several deep runs, a star studded roster, and some solid success in the draft. The man is good at what he does. Maybe he sees something that no one in Minnesota or Houston has ever seen from Sheppard.
I hate to drag the guy through the mud on his way out the door, but his entire career was wholly unimpressive. Generally, I can find some redeeming on-ice qualities, but with Sheppard, they elude me. He did deal well with the media, and is one of the most professional men I have ever seen facing some tough questions. So there's that. On the ice, however, I don't see where his value lies.
For the sake of his career, I hope he takes this chance to sign a two way deal with the Sharks, head to their AHL affiliate, work his tail of, and try to be a cup of coffee type player when the Sharks need a guy to fill in. Whatever his goals were for his career in 2005, that dream is over. It is time to accept the player he is, develop a work ethic and show it on the ice. Anything less will make Wilson look silly, and no one wants that.
As for the Wild, the poster boy of the old regime is gone. The days of poor drafting and piss poor development look to be behind the franchise, and Sheppard's departure is the perfect symbolic end to that era. There were bigger busts in the draft, to be sure, but none were as long and as painful to watch unfold as James Sheppard. The fault for that is shared, the end result now squarely on his shoulders.
All-in-all, a great trade for the Wild, one I never would have predicted in a million years. Chuck Fletcher deserves a nomination for fleecing of the year, if only because he got something, anything, in exchange for one of the biggest flops in team history.What it means for the Sharks is up to their team and their fans to debate. I don't get it, but I'm not an NHL GM for a reason.
Everyone should just wave good-bye to the last scapegoat on the team, and wish him luck on his new direction. I just hope he doesn't float away en route.
Author's note: Take a moment and think about this. Cam Barker is gone, Antti Miettinen is gone, James Sheppard is gone. Let me know when that reality sets in.