How the mighty have fallen. Or is it just age?
For many years, Marleau, as the longest tenured Shark and a top offensive forward, was voted as the fan favorite each spring. But in the last few seasons, he’s been surpassed by Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski in the fan voting.
His stats have been falling as well: from 70 points in 13-14 to less than 50 this past season (with his +/- going negative too). And he’s been moved from the top line(s) to the third line (but still on the top PP unit).
He is 36 today and has one more season left on a three-year $6,666,667 AAV contract. The contract has a No Movement Clause (NMC), which means he cannot be traded nor demoted without his permission.
But there are many rumors swirling out there, and some fan dissatisfaction in his performance. Not to mention the utter fall off in fan support for the entire team after losing to the Kings being up 3-0 in the opening round two years ago, and then missing the playoffs last year.
Now, I can argue that based on his past performance, the contract he signed THREE summers ago, and started two seasons ago, was justified. But in the past two seasons, with the falling offensive production and two years of playoff flops/misses, today, he is not worth the contract he has.
And that’s probably one main reason for the fan dissatisfaction and rumors. If he remained with good offensive numbers, or had a much (half?) smaller contract, there probably wouldn’t be such an outpouring of disappointment. But if you have to focus displeasure on one player, Marleau might be the one guy who has disappointed the most.
There was a rumor last year that Marleau had asked to be traded. It was never confirmed, but this year during the end of season interviews, Marleau expressed a desire to remain a Shark.
He still is producing, so a buyout probably isn’t worth it as you’d be down cap space and still have to replace his offense.
The problem with moving Marleau, NMC notwithstanding, is that the Sharks would probably have to add an asset (draft pick or prospect), and/or take back a “bad” contract, to move him. With the cap remaining somewhat flat this season, it makes it that much harder to do a deal.
So I think that Marleau will remain with the Sharks for the 2016-17 season.
The question then becomes: will he sign an extension and/or when might he retire? That will be answered next summer.