Sharks UFA situation: blessing or curse?

Photo courtesy of C. AlexanderThe Hockey Gods have quite the sense of humor.  I was helping my aunt yesterday, while avoiding writing this article, clean out the shed when I stumbled upon a Chicago Blackhawks hockey puck.  For those of you that don’t know I’m the only hockey fan in my entire family so finding this was odd and well completely random.  I picked it up looked to the sky and smirked thinking “Well played sirs, well played”.  I evened the score though when 5 minutes later I found four AC/DC cds in a gym bag (score!) and alas everything is right in my world again.

I’ve been avoiding the cap space/UFA issue since I last went on and a disclaimer popped up saying “WARNING: The San Jose Sharks are screwed!!”  Kidding aside GM Doug Wilson has quite the situation on his hands.  To start the Sharks are not in a rebuilding phase they have the talent, just have fallen short of expectations the past 6 or so years.  They also have one of the largest UFA/RFA lists out of all 30 teams.

As of right now their salary is at $36 million having Thornton ($7.2), Heatley ($7.5), Clowe ($3.6), Mitchell ($1.3), Boyle ($6.6), Vlasic ($3.1), Murray ($2.5), Huskins ($1.7), Greiss ($500K), McGinn ($996K), Demers ($543K) and Couture ($1.2).  That gives them only $20 million to work with which seems like a lot but really is nothing.  You’re talking about 12 players in contract, three of which are call-ups from Worcester and one is our back up goalie, yikes!

Now it comes down to who stays and who goes.  This is how I see it, San Jose will re-sign Pavelski and hopefully they get him into a 3-5 year deal.  The kid has proven to be clutch under pressure and was just shut down in the Chicago series.  I think Ortmeyer and Nichol will be back, Orts with a 1 year deal and Nichol they will extend a 2 year offer.  Setoguchi could get a decent offer but his play this past season will factor in if he is better for trade bait.  If they keep him great, cause a healthy Devin is a lethal one.

Malhotra may get another 1 year deal but I have a feeling that San Jose may go with a youth movement.  Which leads to Blake, he’s probably done but if the Sharks re-sign him for 1 year at $4-5 million that would be, how should I say, hmm dumb.  The guy has done and accomplished so much in his career but it’s time to hang up the skates.  Others that won’t be back are Leach, Staubitz, and Wallin.  Leach and Wallin were brought in for one reason and they didn’t perform.  Staubitz was a healthy scratch through the playoffs and became a liability in the regular season.

Photo courtesy of C. Alexander

Marleau or Nabakov?  Ahhh the topic that’s the giant elephant in the room.    If they choose Marleau they will be committing over 22 million to the top line alone.  If they choose Nabby they will be gambling if he can show up the whole season.  So much has been said about these two players but has anyone thought that maybe neither will be back?  This is a very real possibility considering the number of free agents out there and figuring that’s about 12 million you don’t have to worry about.

In less then a month you have the draft and free agency.  I’m not one to speculate or talk about all the rumors going around so I’m not going to start here.  I’m not the GM nor would I want the job.  All I know is that every team goes through this cap situation and will lose good players along the way.  Any way you look at it the San Jose Sharks are in for a long off-season.

  • The Rick

    If Sharks do not have Marleau under contract by 7/1 he is going to be elsewhere there is no doubt, Nabby on the other hand with the number of goaltenders out there, Wilson will have a bit longer to work something out. I don’t know if signing Marleau is the answer, as you pointed out 22 million for one line is a lot. I liken this to the Ottawa situation a few years back. Look at what it costed the Sens. Chara, Redden, Vermette, Heatley, Comrie among others. SJ has to be smart in how they play this. You don’t want to see guys like Pavi and Clowe get traded in a year in order to keep the first line entact.

    • Chelsea Alexander

      Good point on Pavs/Clowe they in my opinion are too valuable to the team for the next few years. Every year its a numbers game, let’s just hope they end up where they need to.

  • Meg Jarrell

    Great stuff Chelsea! I completely see your point, although I have to say a Sharks team without EITHER Nabby or Patty Marleau would be… just…..weird! Although maybe a little bit of weird is what the Sharks need to put them over the hump and into a Cup final. And on the Blake subject….you nailed it. Great career, but time to play some golf and wait for the call from the Hall.

    • Colligan

      I think Meg is exactly right. There was a window of opportunity for the Sharks and I think now that’s closed. The status quo won’t cut it, so maybe they need to shake it up a little more than just interchanging 3rd and 4th liners every year.

      Marleau and Nabakov are in very different situations I think. Nabakov is more replaceable and after years of average play in some of the most important games, I think the Sharks would rather throw a few million at a fresh face.

      Marleau on the other hand brings so much to the table that probably can’t be replaced by one or even two guys. The league has also entered an era where depth at center is top priority and someone will be willing to really overpay to get Marleau as a quick fix in so many aspects of the game. This is his chance to cash in and I don’t think the Sharks are in any position to compete with other suitors.

      Pavelski has really taken a step forward this year, but he’s probably going to get paid like a first line center – can he fill that role? I’m not sure. Interested in your thoughts.

    • Chelsea Alexander

      Meg- If neither player re-signs it will be weird but like I said every team eventually goes through this. The end result is the cup and we still aren’t there. :)

      • Chelsea Alexander

        Colligan- You took the words out of my mouth regarding both Marleau and Nabby. As for Pavs I do believe he can step up into that role. A of people criticized him in the Chicago series re: not scoring but you can’t just rely on one person to put it in the back of the net, that’s where Marleau stepped up. Pav’s line was solid after the Olympics and throughout the entire playoffs, hats off to them for creating chances and putting the pressure on a tough Blackhawks team. HE shows great poise and leadership, two things this team needs. Cheers~