The direct line between the Wild and San Jose Sharks buzzed again Saturday night when the Wild shipped disappointing former first-round pick James Sheppard to Silicon Valley for a 2013 third-round pick.
Sheppard, 24, was suspended all of last season after breaking his kneecap in an all-terrain vehicle accident. Sheppard, a restricted free agent drafted ninth overall in 2006, had his qualifying offer expire when he didn’t sign a new contract by the July 15 deadline.
However, it’s believed the trade was on hold because just prior to that, Sheppard underwent a second operation on his knee. Sheppard is not expected to be ready in time for training camp.
Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant GM Brent Flahr couldn’t be reached for comment, but the Sharks confirmed the trade.
The move was the third of the offseason between the Wild and Sharks.
On June 24, Brent Burns and a 2012 second-round pick were traded to the Sharks for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and a first-round pick that became Zack Phillips. On July 3, the Wild acquired Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat.
Sheppard, who was rushed to the NHL from Cape Breton at age 19, scored 11 goals and 49 points in 224 games for the Wild. Of the seven players taken in 2006 by the Wild, only Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Medvec are still in the system.
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Asked why this team is so fragile with a lead, coach Mike Yeo said, "Because we're afraid of losing it. We're hoping to win and afraid of losing."
Coach Mike Yeo explained why he's stayed with that line combination and said that Devan Dubnyk will be back in goal tonight.
The Wild coach tried to hold an upbeat, morale-boosting practice in New York on Wednesday. "We just needed a good workday," Yeo said afterward "That's what we got."
The Wild battled for the tying goal late in the second period but managed to give up the go-ahead goal less than a minute later in its latest loss, this time to the Islanders.
The Wild, which lost 10 of 13 games in January, looks to start anew in February with a three-game road trip that starts in Brooklyn.