Sharks ship Sheppard to Rangers for draft pick

In what could be a harbinger of moves to come in the hours leading up to the trade deadline, the San Jose Sharks traded away forward James Sheppard to the New York Rangers for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The deal was announced Sunday afternoon, and will also involve the Sharks retaining $100,000 of Sheppard’s salary.

Sheppard, 26, is making $1.3 million this season and will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

He has spent the past three seasons with the Sharks after being acquired in a trade in 2011 from the Minnesota Wild. Sheppard was the ninth overall pick in 2006 by the Wild, but was set back by a knee injury prior to the 2010-2011 season.

Sheppard has spent time at both center and on the wing for the Sharks this season, primarily on the third line. In 57 games, he has five goals and 11 assists.

According to GM Doug Wilson, Sheppard’s departure will give Tomas Hertl the opportunity to develop as a center.

Sheppard may not be the only Sharks’ player to be shipped off by Monday’s noon PST trade deadline. Tye McGinn was waived earlier on Sunday, and Wilson may be shopping other veterans with one or two-year contracts such as Scott Hannan, John Scott, and Andrew Desjardins.

Wilson will likely not pursue an upgrade or rental player to make a playoff push, as the Sharks, losers of eight straight home games and currently on the outside looking in on the postseason, are trending in the wrong direction.

In fact, fresh off back-to-back third period collapses at home against the Red Wings and Senators, the players skipped their morning skate on Sunday and instead went out to lunch together in an effort to regroup.

One of those players has already said his good-byes. Whether more adieus will happen tomorrow remains to be seen.