The San Jose Sharks traded away fan-favorite defenseman Brenden Dillon on Tuesday in a move that was sad, but not one that was unexpected.
But that didn’t make the pill any easier to swallow.
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Dillon was officially shipped to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday in exchange for a 2020 second-round draft pick and a conditional third-rounder that could be in either 2020 or 2021.
The move was widely speculated to occur and it gives the Sharks some much-needed draft capital at a time when it’s at a premium. But just because it was expected, just because it was for the best, doesn’t mean that it’s any less tragic.
Dillon had become a fan-favorite for his team-first, physical style of play. He was endearing to fans for his soft-spoken demeanor and the pure joy and admiration he showed for San Jose Sharks hockey.
Even in his final days with the team, he made it clear that San Jose was the place he wanted to be. And what a fairy-tale ending it would have been if the Sharks decided to keep Dillon despite their cap situation and need for draft picks.
Unfortunately, the business side of sports often gets in the way of fairy-tale endings.
The Sharks left themselves in quite the cap bind and without their first-round pick this year, they need all the draft picks they could get their hands on. Dillon was a victim of circumstance, and that’s a sad thing to see.
The 29-year-old has spent the last five-and-a-half seasons with the Sharks after originally being sent over from the Dallas Stars back in November of 2014. He had been playing on a five-year, $16.25 million extension he signed with the team in the 2015 offseason but was on his final year.
Because of that, trading him became a priority.
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The Sharks are unlikely to make a move to re-sign him in the offseason as they just don’t have the financial flexibility to invest more money into their defense.
In his place, San Jose will need younger left-handed defensemen to step up. Radim Simek is the obvious top choice to replace Dillon — who had played primarily in the top-four — but he will also be in need of a new contract this offseason.
Simek is a very similar player to Dillon when he’s healthy and playing his best, but the Sharks will need to see more from him now that their lovable veteran is gone.
Outside of Simek, the Sharks will likely lean on rookie Mario Ferraro who has played exceedingly well this season. This trade will likely prompt a switch back to the left side for Ferraro who had been primarily playing on his unnatural right side.
Brenden Dillon is gone and while it’s easy to see how this was the correct move to make, while it’s easy to see that it was inevitable, it doesn’t make it sting any less.
We wish ‘Dilly’ all the best with the Capitals and hopefully he could finally get that Stanley Cup victory he deserves.