NHL Salaries: The Sharks’ Tough Decisions

Sixty four million dollars – an enormous amount of money for most people on planet Earth. However, for 30 general managers around the league, this amount is very small and limiting. With the salary cap being lowered to $64.300.000USD next season, there will be many teams around the league that will need to make hard decisions and needed adjustments. According to capgeek.com – for the 2013-14 season, the Sharks have already committed to 13 players with the projected cap hit of $53,726,667 (you can thank Dan Boyle and his annual salary hit for the oddity of the number). This means that the Sharks will have about ten and a half million dollars of cap space to get a backup goalie, at least one defender, and at least five forwards.

Most of the players making up the ‘core’ of the Sharks team are under contract for the next season, perhaps with the exception of Ryane Clowe who is due to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. According to Kevin Kurz at csnbayarea.com – there have been reports that Clowe had preliminary discussions with the club about a contract extension with the Sharks. Clowe has also expressed his interest in staying with the only NHL club he has played for, via csnbayarea.com:

“Obviously, this is where I’ve been my whole career, and I’d like to stay here for awhile”

However, extending Clowe would really put a strain on filling up the roster. Assuming that he signs for something similar to what he is getting paid now – the Sharks would have around six million to allocate for one goalie, one defender, and four forwards – and that’s the very minimum. At the same time, regardless of whether Clowe resigns or not – there will be 5 players who will eat up half of the team’s cap space – all five of them have either NMC or NTC clauses, and four of them bound to become unrestricted free agents after the end of the 2013-14 season. They are Thornton, Marleau, Havlat, Boyle, and Burns (whose contract runs until the end of 2016-17 season).

Ryane Clowe nhl salaries
Ryane Clowe (Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE)

Assuming that the Sharks re-sign Clowe, fail to reach the Stanley Cup final, but once again decide against shaking things up come summer time – the top six forwards for the next season would be Thornton, Marleau, Havlat, Pavelski, Clowe, and Couture. It would be the same bunch of forwards that have not been able to deliver in the playoffs in the past few years. It would also mean that the bottom six would not consist of quality forwards – as there is simply not enough cap to spread around. If that is Doug Wilson’s plan, then he has an enormous amount of belief in the current group – willing to risk his own job by keeping the team intact.

Looking at the salary cap numbers, remembering the past few years, and watching the Sharks lose their sixth straight game – changes need to be made. If not for the sake of this season, do it for the long term future of the team. With strict salary cap rules in place, inability to come up with successful results, and several expiring contract in the summer of 2014 – Doug Wilson should actively seek an opportunity to get something in return for his ageing superstars.