RFAs re-signed – check

One of the items on General Manager Doug Wilson’s summer to-do list was re-signing his four Restricted Free Agents (RFAs).

And two weeks into the free agency period, that item can be checked off.

The four RFAs all re-signed for team-friendly, short term (max 2 years) deals.  (Hertl re-signed 6/29 for two years; DeMelo 7/11, two years; Carpenter 7/14, one year; Nieto 7/15, one year)

With the RFA signings, plus UFA signings of Schlemko, Boedekar and Kelly, the Sharks have 45 NHL deals signed (one slideable) and 5 AHL deals.

That may be enough to fill the NHL and AHL rosters for the season, with some extras in the ECHL.

But there’s still some possibility of additional signings, as well as some trades before the season opening rosters for the Sharks and Barracuda are set.

AHL Rule Changes for 2016-17

The AHL Board of Governors has announced a number of rule changes for 2016-17.  The most sweeping of which might be the change in how accumulating fighting majors may result in game suspensions.

Rule 46 (“Fighting”)/Rule 23 (“Game Misconducts”)

Players who enter into a fight prior to, at, or immediately following the drop of the puck for a faceoff will be assessed an automatic game misconduct in addition to other penalties assessed.
During the regular season, any player who incurs his 10th fighting major shall be suspended automatically for one (1) game. For each subsequent fighting major up to 13, the player shall also be suspended automatically for one (1) game.
During the regular season, any player who incurs his 14th fighting major shall be suspended automatically for two (2) games. For each subsequent fighting major, the player shall also be suspended automatically for two (2) games.
In any instance where the opposing player was assessed an instigator penalty, the fighting major shall not count towards the player’s total for this rule.

Eliminating (by threat of game misconduct) “staged” fights immediately after a faceoff, should reduce the number of fights. As may the automatic suspension after 10 or more fights.

The Barracuda are not riddled with returning players that fight.  Only one, Alex Gallant, accumulated double digits in fighting majors last season. I’ll just note that Gallant was at the development camp in July and working extra hard to be able to contribute more two-way play than just with his fists.

Another rule change is that after icing the offending team cannot call their timeout to rest players.  On the surface, this could result in additional goals being score.  Hopefully, it will not lead to more injuries from tired players.

And in a nod to the NHL and speeding up the game, there will not be a dry scrap (with Zambonis) before overtime.  (Just the ice crew with shovels.)  I never had a problem with the clock adding the dry scrape before OT; I felt it provided a better ice surface, free of snow.

So, all in all, these rule changes should not impact the Barracuda negatively this coming season.  But hopefully will result in more offense after icings.

Free Agent Frenzy – Day 1

(Post will be updated through the day as former Sharks get new deals and/or Sharks make a signing.)

Official NHL list of signings

Sharks sign David Schlemko to four year deal.

Sharks sign Mikkel Boedker to four year deal.

Sharks re-sign Aaron Dell to two year deal. (Think NHL backup this season and expansion draft dangle.)

Sharks re-sign Michael Haley to one year deal.


James Reimer signs with Florida Panthers; as does Jason Demers.

Jamie McGinn signs 3 year deal with Arizona Coyotes.

Alex Stalock signs with Minnesota Wild

Brian Campbell signs with Chicago Blackhawks; Brendan Mashinter re-signs with Chicago.

Carter Hutton signs 2 year deal with St Louis Blues

Jeremy Morin signs one year, two-way deal with Tampa Bay Lightning.

Karl Stollery signs with New Jersey Devils

Matt Irwin signs with Nashville Predators

Summer thoughts: the curious case of Patrick Marleau

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.

Update: It’s been revealed that the Marleau family adopted “Jo Pawvelski” (and sister “Stanley”)

Summer thoughts: RFAs

The Sharks had nine RFAs.  One goalie, one defenseman, and seven forwards.

But they only issued qualifying offers to four: Carpenter, DeMelo, Hertl, and Nieto

Carpenter is the only player with arbitration rights; but as he’s only played one NHL game, he probably doesn’t have a lot of klout to improve his deal by going to arbitration.  The other three are coming off  ELS contracts.

Hertl was a key piece of the top line with the Joes, providing the finishing touch; he absence was felt in the Stanley Cup Finals. Still no word on whether his knee/leg injury will require surgery. The big question will be bridge, or “long term” deal. He’s probably the only player that might warrant an offer sheet from another organization, but I think it doubtful (with so few actually being accepted and made public).

Nieto is a key piece of the bottom 6 and possesses some series wheels.  Probably 1-2 year bridge deal.

Carpenter finally got a chance to play in the NHL, and was around the team for the last three rounds of the playoffs.  Probably a bridge deal.

DeMelo was playing very well with Dillon, but sat on the sidelines for the playoffs.  Probably a bridge deal, but he’s real motivated to make the coaches (and hockey ops) staff(s) to forget about Polak.

Summer thoughts: forwards

In advance of free agency, what might the Sharks be looking to fill on the forward ranks?

The Sharks/Barracuda nominally have about 30 forwards under contract: 14 NHL, 14 AHL, and 2-4 in ECHL.

With three forward positions possible, lots of flexibility if a player can play multiple positions.  The Sharks’ strategy has to been to acquire the best player available, with lots of hockey sense, resulting in a plethora of centers (who end up playing wing and/or swap in/out of center and taking faceoffs).

21 – Currently signed through 6/30/17 (with position, years remaining, trade restrictions):

  • C Joe Pavelski (3 years, NTC)
  • C Joe Thornton (1 year, NMC)
  • F Joonas Donskoi (1 year)
  • C Logan Couture (3 years, NTC)
  • R Joel Ward (2 years, NTC)
  • C Chris Tierney (1 year)
  • C Patrick Marleau (1 year, NMC)
  • C Tommy Wingels (1 year)
  • C Melker Karlsson (1 year)
  • R Nikolay Goldobin (2 years)
  • R Barclay Goodrow (1 year)
  • C Nikita Jevpalovs (2 years)
  • C Rourke Chartier (3 years)
  • R Jonathon Martin (3 years)
  • R Alex Schoenborn (3 years)
  • R Marcus Sorensen (1 year)
  • L Adam Helewka (3 years)
  • R Kevin Labanc (3 years)
  • R Timo Meier (3 years)
  • C Daniel O’Regan (2 years)
  • L Alex Gallant (AHL, 1 year)

8 Pending UFAs

  • C Michael Haley
  • L Bryan Lerg (signed to play in Sweden)
  • L John McCarthy
  • L Frazer McLaren
  • C Nick Spaling
  • L Danius Zubrus
  • F Scott Timmins (AHL)
  • R Trevor Parks (AHL)

7 Pending RFAs (with arbitration rights indicated) — UPDATED with QOs

  • C Ryan Carpenter *
  • R Chris Crane *
  • R Petter Emmanuelson (signed to play in Sweden)
  • C Tomas Hertl
  • C Jeremy Langlois *
  • W Jeremy Morin *
  • W Matt Nieto

11 Unsigned prospects:

  • C Colin Blackwell (college grad – needs to be signed by 8/15 or becomes UFA)
  • C Jacob Jackson (3 years college)
  • L Emil Galimov (defected)
  • R Noah Rod
  • C Maxim Letunov (3 years college)
  • L Rudolfs Balcers
  • C Marcus Vela
  • C Dylan Gambrel (3 years college)
  • C Noah Gregor
  • C Manuel Wiederer
  • W Joachim Blichfield

So, the Sharks have about 9 additional forwards that need to be (re-)signed.  I think the Sharks will re-sign five of the 7 RFAs (all but Crane and Emmanuelsson, and maybe not Morin).  Of the 8 UFAs, I can see Haley and McCarthy (for AHL veteran leadership), plus Timmins and Parkes, re-signed.   Which maybe leaves 1-2 UFAs to be signed.

I can see Thornton and Marleau extended this summer (the latter for less than the former).

For the expansion draft, teams may protect up to 7 forwards.  Teams must expose at least two forwards who played 40 games in 16-17 or 70 games 15-16 through 16-17, signed through 17-18.  Players with (non-expiring) NMCs must be protected.

Expansion draft exempt forwards include: Crane, Donskoi, Doremus, Emmanuelson, Gallant, Goldobin, Jevpalovs, Chartier, Helewka, Labanc, J Martin, Meier, Schoenborn, Balcers, Vela, Gambrel, Gregor, Wiederer, Blichfield

I’m thinking the protected players will be:  Pavelski, Thornton, Marleau, Couture, Hertl (re-signed), Ward, Tierney.

This would leave exposed Wingels, Karlsson, Nieto (re-signed) and others.  Some players would require an extension to meet the NHL requirement of signed through 2017-18.

Lots of things to consider this summer as the organization prepares for 2016-17 season and the 2017 expansion draft.

Summer thoughts: defensemen

What roster moves might be wanted/needed this summer to bolster the blueline? What impact will the expansion draft have on the defensive depth?

Let’s look at the defensemen in the organization.

The Sharks/Barracuda nominally have about 20 D-men under contract: 7 in NHL, 7-8 in AHL and 1-6 in ECHL for depth call ups.

Sharks/Barracuda have the following blueliners under contract (in approximate depth chart order) for 2016-17 (with shooting side and year(s) remaining):

  • Marc-Edouard Vlasic (Left, 2 years; NTC)
  • Brent Burns (Right, 1 year)
  • Justin Braun (Right, 4 years)
  • Paul Martin (Left, 3 years)
  • Brendan Dillon (Left, 4 years)
  • Michael Brodzinski (Right, 3 years, ELS)
  • Mirco Mueller (Left, 1 year, ELS)
  • Julius Bergman (Right, 2 years, ELS)
  • Tim Heed (Right, 1 year, ELS)
  • Joakim Ryan (Left, 1 year, ELS)
  • Patrick McNally (Left, 1 year, ELS)
  • Cavan Fitzgerald (Left, 3 years, ELS)
  • Jeremy Roy (Right, QMJHL/ELS)

Pending UFAs/RFAs

  • Dylan DeMelo RFA (Right)
  • Roman Polak UFA (Right)
  • Karl Stollery UFA (Left)
  • Gus Young UFA/AHL (Left)
  • Rick Pinkston UFA/AHL (Left)
  • Mark Cundari UFA (Left) – signed in Europe
  • Danny Federico UFA/AHL (Left)
  • Matt Tennyson UFA (Right)

Unsigned draftees

  • Gage Ausmus (Left, ’17 grad)
  • Karlis Cukste (Left, ’20 grad)
  • Adam Parsells (Left, ’20 grad?)
  • Clifford Watson (Left, ’17 grad)

Draftee Alexis Vanier (Left) was not signed by 6/1 deadline.  Guessing that’s a case of too many lefties in the organization and he fell down the depth chart after getting a bonafide offer last spring.

NHL coach DeBoer likes to match left/right in pairs for his blue line.  Vlasic-Braun, Martin-Burns, Dillon-Polak were the pairs during the Stanley Cup Final.  Some lefties have played their off side, especially in the AHL.

I don’t see any buy out candidates. There are 12 defenseman signed I expect to play for the Sharks or Barracuda next season; Roy should be heading back to the Q as a 19 year old.  I expect the Sharks to re-sign DeMelo, and maybe Tennyson.  That would mean 2-5 blue liners should be signed from the pending UFA guys in the organization last year, and or free market for depth.  Stollery was a good veteran D for the Barracuda and I hope he’s re-signed.

In the expansion draft, the Sharks will be able to protect three defensemen. Teams have to expose (at least) two defensemen signed through 2017-18 (who played 40+ games in 15-16 or 70+ games in 14-15 and 15-16).

Defensemen exempt from expansion draft include: Ausmus, Watson, Cukste, Parsells; Bergman, McNally, Pinkston, Ryan; Brodzinski, Fitzgerald, Roy, Heed.  (Plus 2016 draftees and other prospects signed.)

Even though Burns is a pending UFA in advance of the expansion draft, it’s expected that he’ll be signed to an extension this summer.

My guess on who’s protected:  Vlasic, Burns, Braun

That would leave Martin and Dillon exposed.  Now, the Sharks may even want to ensure Mueller and DeMelo  stay in the organization by making a “future considerations” trade so that they would not be picked up.

The Sharks seem defensively well positioned for the 2016-17 season.  I see a handful of re-signings to bolster depth in the AHL and/or NHL.