With the dust settling after perhaps the biggest day in NHL free agency thus far (Ryan Suter and Zach Parise signing with the Minnesota Wild), teams can now settle down, re-strategize, and add some other free agents.
The San Jose Sharks are one of those teams; so far, they have lost Torrey Mitchell to the Wild, and UFA Daniel Winnik will not be re-signed. Dominic Moore, Brad Winchester, Benn Ferriero, Jim Vandermeer, and Colin White are their other free agents, and as of now, none of them have been offered a contract.
Their only additions so far have been defenseman Brad Stuart, fourth liner Adam Burish, and a few minor league players.
So, assuming that all of their UFAs not be re-signed, here is a look at how the Sharks’ stand with their line combinations and defense pairings right now:
1st line: Logan Couture, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski
2nd line: Ryane Clowe, Patrick Marleau, Martin Havlat
3rd line: T.J. Galiardi, Michal Handzus, Tommy Wingels
4th line: James Sheppard, Andrew Desjardins, Adam Burish
D1: Marc-Eduoard Vlasic, Dan Boyle
D2: Brent Burns, Brad Stuart
D3: Jason Demers, Justin Braun
Healthy Scratch: D Douglas Murray
There are a number of routes that the Sharks could go at this point, but there is clear that most Sharks fans are interested in just one of them:
Trade Patrick Marleau, Acquire Rick Nash
The Sharks have made it no secret that they want to acquire the disgruntled Columbus superstar Rick Nash. Bringing in Nash would add a proven playmaker and goal scorer to their top-line. Plus, the Thornton-Nash combo would just be absolutely filthy to watch.
Now, what about Patrick Marleau, you may ask? The Sharks, who are just $8 million under the salary cap, may be trying to trade Marleau in order to clear room for Nash, according to a source:
TOR UPDATE: #Sharks CLEARLY trying to make room for Rick Nash. I’m told Brian Burke has made ENORMOUS progress to acquire C Patrick Marleau.
— Creasy (@The_Creasy) July 5, 2012
This makes sense; the Toronto Maple Leafs have a lot of cap room (about $14 million, to be exact), so the Sharks could trade Marleau and his $6.9 million salary to Toronto for a few players, prospects, and draft picks.
That would give the Sharks plenty of cap space to work with, so GM Doug Wilson would feel at ease to include any player in the deal, regardless of his salary. In other words, the salaries of the players going to Columbus would not have to “match-up” with Nash’s salary, so no players would have to be traded because of their expiring contracts.
How they would get Nash is still the biggest question. Columbus GM Scott Howson has insisted on Logan Couture being a “deal-starter”, but Wilson has refused to entertain that trade.
But what’s intriguing is that the Sharks already have an offer on the table for Nash, according to the Columbus Dispatch. No word on what the offer is, but I’m guessing that anybody not named Couture or Thornton is fair game at this point. The Dispatch also noted that the deal could be “sweetened”, implying that the Sharks are more than willing to give up quality pieces to acquire Nash.
Regardless of how they get him, Rick Nash would be a much-needed boost to this team. Adding him would signify that the Sharks think that they are still contenders, and not quite ready to go into “rebuilding” mode just yet.