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)
- 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)
- 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.