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Why Trade Weatherby for Criscuolo?

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Credit: AP Photo/Josie Lepe

The San Jose Sharks have traded prospect Jasper Weatherby to the Detroit Red Wings for AHL veteran Kyle Criscuolo.

Weatherby, 24, was a San Jose Sharks’ 2018 fourth-round pick. He made his NHL debut last season, scoring five goals and six assists in 50 games. This season, in a reduced role with the San Jose Barracuda, the 6-foot-4 centerman didn’t quite take a big leap forward with three goals and three assists.

Subscriber Q&A: Weatherby on Being Chirped by Marchand, “Brent Burns Is My Spirit Animal” | SJHN+

Criscuolo, 30, was signed out of Harvard University by the Grand Rapids Griffins in Mar. 2016. The 5-foot-9 center earned himself an NHL contract with the Buffalo Sabres the following year and has spent most of his pro career in the AHL, scoring 187 points in 335 games over eight seasons. This season with Grand Rapids, the Griffins alternate captain had five goals and five assists in 28 appearances.

Criscuolo has suited up for 15 NHL contests over parts of two seasons with Buffalo and Detroit, notching a pair of assists.

On the surface, it’s a bizarre trade: Why would you ever trade a 24-year-old prospect for a 30-year-old AHL veteran?

By the way, Weatherby did not request a trade. That was my first thought, but Weatherby’s agent Pat Brisson said they did not.

Instead, this deal provides immediate help to the Barracuda.

Weatherby, a perhaps low-ceiling NHL prospect to begin with, had struggled this season. You might not miss him either way if you’re the big club.

“I thought he was trying to play heavier and harder,” an NHL scout from outside the San Jose Sharks organization told San Jose Hockey Now. “Question how much offensive upside there is, but still think he has a chance as a fourth-line role player because of the size. Likely a depth guy and it’s filled up top at the end of the day.”

Criscuolo hasn’t been as productive this season, but he’s considered a rock-solid AHL forward.

“Criscuolo can play anywhere in your top-nine,” an NHL executive told SJHN. “He’s decent.”

This could be in line with GM Mike Grier’s plan to build a more competitive Barracuda squad this year. I think the San Jose Sharks organization would like top prospects William Eklund and Thomas Bordeleau to see some playoff action this season.

The Cuda are currently hanging on to the seventh-and-last playoff spot in the Pacific Division with a 16-21-0-2 record, the Henderson Silver Knights nipping at their heels, just three points back.

The Barracuda and Griffins also concluded another deal after the Weatherby trade:

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