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.

Summer thoughts: goalies

OK, we’re in the off season.  Time to think about what the roster moves might be.

First up: the goalies.

This is a key position for any team.  The Sharks historically have 5-6 goalies under contract for depth: 2 in NHL, 2 in AHL and 1-2 in ECHL.

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

  • Martin Jones (2 years left)
  • Troy Grosenick (1 year left)
  • Mantas Armalis (1 year ELS)
  • Jamie Murray (1 year, AHL)

In the depth chart (not signed):

  • Frederik Bergvik (defected)
  • John Kupsky (college; scheduled graduation ’19)
  • Mike Robinson (college; scheduled graduation ’20)

UFAs include:

  • James Reimer
  • Aaron Dell (group VI)

And Joel Rumpel (RFA).
UPDATE: Rumpel not QO’d

Sharks need to have one goalie (either signed through 2017-18 or pending RFA in 2018) exposed in the (anticipated) expansion draft next June, and can protect only one goalie.  Armalis, Kupsky and Robinson are all exempt from expansion draft (Rumpel too if he’s re-signed); technically, on an AHL deal Murray is not exempt, but for all practical purposes is.  Jones is the protected guy from my prospective.

Dell surpassed Grosenick in the depth chart this year.

There are no pending RFAs in 2018 based on the current depth chart, unless it’s exposing Rumpel or similar.  (Grosenick will be a UFA after his contract expires.)

My guess is that the Sharks re-sign Dell to a two year deal as their exposed goalie for the expansion draft (at a reasonable cap hit even).  He’d be pencilled in as Jones’ backup. Armalis and Grosenick would be in AHL and Murray in ECHL.

While Reimer might be an interesting re-signing, he’d probably demand near starter $$s and may prefer finding a starting role elsewhere.  (The Sharks might be able to trade his rights for a pick.)

Cap casualties or trade bait?

It’s that time of year.  Not when young men dream of love, nor the winter weary of the blooming spring.  But the approach of the trade deadline and the preparation for what a team will do in the off season with re-signing and fitting under the cap.

The Sharks have 15 players currently on the NHL roster signed for next season.  $34.45m for 9 forwards, $21.93m for 5 defensemen and $3m for one goalie.  (Not including recent recalls.)  Of the seven expiring contracts, 3 are UFAs (Brown, Zubrus, Stalock), four are RFAs (Hertl, Nieto, Demelo, Tennyson) — perhaps deserving a raise. Expiring ELS deals for Hertl and Nieto.  (In the rest of the organization, six RFAs and six UFAs with expiring NHL contracts.  And six expiring AHL contracts.)

With the buyout of Burish on the books for one more season, the Sharks have $60m (less $200) allocated against the cap for the 2016-17 season, with five+ more contracts to (re-)sign and/or prospects to promote for the NHL roster.  The NHL minimum contract for 16-17 is $575k.

The 15-16 cap is $74.1m.  There is some speculation that the 16-17 cap could be reduced by up to $4m due to reduction in Canadian dollar which decreases revenue (HRR is calculated in US dollars). Which gives the Sharks about $10m for those five contracts/promotions.

Now comes the hard part: which players with expiring contracts will be retained/re-signed, and which won’t.   Plus who gets the $$s.  And, are there players with remaining term on their respective contracts that no longer fit in the Sharks roster? (Any players “out there” that the Sharks might want to acquire?)

First things first. Potential trade bait at the trade deadline. Which expiring contracts probably won’t be re-signed/retained?  Any players with term (or RFAs) that would make sense to trade? My partial list:

  • D Matt Tennyson (RFA) – a good player, a sentimental choice as the first Jr Shark to make the NHL Shark roster, but he’s been in the press box for more than half the games this season. UPDATE: With the injury 2/22 (likely a concussion), it’s unlikely he’ll be traded.  (Although it would have been weird as the AHL Barracuda are having his Bobblehead night 3/5.)
  • F Mike Brown (UFA) – utility 4th liner, pinch fighter. Changing culture means his role is disappearing.
  • F Ben Smith (UFA) – demoted to AHL, he has found his scoring touch, again, but just does not seem to fit into DeBoer’s plans.
  • G Al Stalock (UFA) – seems to have a confidence issue; good enough for a little work, but team has not been able to rely on him to take some load off Jones.
  • F Raffi Torres (UFA) – demoted to AHL, has lost a lot of speed and strength from multiple surgeries/procedures and no durability (playing perhaps 1 game in 3). Update: Traded 2/22 as part of cap differential for Polak/Spaling acquisition. Torres waived his NTC, but remains with the AHL Barracuda.
  • F Ben Smith (AHL, UFA) – has rediscovered his offense in the AHL after clearing waivers and being demoted. Does not seem to fit in with DeBoer’s coaching; could use a new home.
  • F Frazer McLaren (AHL, UFA) – has been out (what seems like months) since a fight. Concussion is suspected but has not been confirmed.
  • G Aaron Dell (AHL, UFA VI) – has actually outplayed Grosenick this season. Have to wonder if the organization might retain him instead.
  • G Troy Grosenick (AHL; one more year) – has been decent; might end up being a throw in if the Sharks acquire a goalie (otherwise seems to be penciled in as the NHL backup for 16-17).

Zubrus has played well under DeBoer, so I think it unlikely he’ll be traded (and could even get an extension).  Marleau has another year under contract; but I don’t think the Sharks would be able to get fair value nor replace the role/offense he brings. Hertl and Nieto are RFAs, but most likely to be re-signed. Demelo is coming off his ELS, and I expect him to be re-signed. Thornton leads the team in offense; no way to get fair value in a trade.

Stollery, Lerg, McCarthy, Haley have been good vets in the AHL.

Carpenter, Cundari, Emanuelsson, Doremus and Langlois have all played well and will probably be retained.

If the Sharks do make a trade, will it be to pare down the roster, or shore up a need?  Or both? Various pundits have postulated that the Sharks “need” more D depth (like 5th defenseman) and/or a better backup goalie.

UPDATE: Sharks acquired D Roman Polak and F Nick Spaling. Addresses their D depth and forward depth.

That trade may answer the depth issue, but not a better backup goalie.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson indicates that the organization plans to “replace” those two picks given away in the 2017 and 2018 draft for Polak and Spaling in the future.  So, even if the needs are filled, some of the “trade bait” players may wind up getting a few more draft picks (or prospects) down the road.

Sharks/Barracuda Training Camp, leading up to the Sharks season opener

It’s the last hours (days) of camp.

On Monday, the Sharks announced they had reassigned the nine players they had called up from the AHL Barracuda for the weekend, and assigned three players (Goldobin, Karlsson, Mueller) to the AHL Barracuda.  This leaves the team with 23 players on the roster (about $1.99M under the cap) which could be the season opening roster.

The Sharks also announced Joe Pavelski as the 12th captain in team history (9th “full time” captain), with Logan Couture and Joe Thornton as the assistant captains.

On the Barracuda side, 10 were released/assigned from camp (7 to ECHL Allen, including G Joel Rumpel and newly signed to two-way AHL deal Dan Federico; 3 to other ECHL teams).  That leaves Doremus, Helewka, and Timmins without contracts (announced).

Raffi Torres had his hearing Monday with the NHL Department of Player Safety for his Match Penalty from Saturday’s game in Anaheim over the hit of Silfverberg. (He waived an in-person hearing.) He was given a 41-game suspension (half a season). No word on if Torres or the Sharks will appeal the suspension or let it stand.

(How it impacts the Sharks roster/cap situation during a suspension…. Torres’ contract would count against the Sharks cap, with the funds going to the Player emergency fund.  Torres would take up one of the 23 NHL roster spots.  Now, if there was a situation where less than 18 skaters were healthy/able to play, the Sharks could do an emergency recall, exceeding the roster count for the duration of the emergency, if they remained under the salary cap.  So being able to only have 22 “active” players on the roster may not be as big a hardship as it might appear at first glance.)

(It is left to the reader of this blog to find reaction articles on Torres’ suspension.  While I do not condone his actions, neither will I further vilify him by sharing those articles.)

News of the half week

SJ Sharks

SJ Mercury News

Gackle Report

SF Chronicle

CSN Sharks

Puck Daddy

The Summer knows – Training Camp eve

One last caress
It’s time to dress
For Fall…

Recapping off season ponderings:

And it’s here!  Training camp. First on ice session will be Friday morning.

New coach DeBoer promises a clean slate, which is both good and bad.  If you had a bad season, new reasons to play your best.  If you’ve been at the top of the game, you have to prove yourself again.  And the new players to the organization have to show the coaching staff their abilities and how they’ll fit in.

So, where are we, what might the NHL roster look like at the start of the season?  Who’ll be in the AHL?  Or who won’t be playing pro with the Sharks?

To start, realize that the organization prides itself on merit promotions.  IOW, how you play will rank you in the depth chart, get you ice time and a NHL roster spot.

But if you’re an experienced NHL player on a one-way contract, what might that mean for your future with the organization if you’ve dropped down the depth chart?  The organization must consider the roster count (max 23), NHL contract count (max 50+CHL slideable) and the cap implications of any move. The cap for the upcoming season is $71.4m. This season, a player on a one-way contract gets a $925k cap exemption if assigned to the AHL; for example, if a player had a $1m contract, and was assigned to the AHL, there would be a residual $75k hit against the NHL cap; if the cap hit was $600k, there would be no residual NHL cap implications. And if a player has to be assigned to the AHL, is he exempt from waivers, or might he be picked up by another NHL team?

Here are some cap numbers from General Fanager.  And here is my determination of players’ waiver exemption status.

Another wrinkle is the handful of CHL-eligible players who will turn 20 by the end of the calendar year. They can be signed by the NHL Sharks, and play in either the NHL or AHL.  Or their rights will be retained until at least next spring if unsigned and returned to their respective CHL teams, as an “over ager”. These include F Helewka (’15 draftee), F Labanc (’14 draftee), F Schoenborn (’14 draftee) and D Vanier (’14 draftee).  (Update:  All but Helewka returned to their respective junior team 9/17. Sharks retain their rights until June 1, 2016; so if the organization decides to sign them it will be by then.)

There are also two signed draftees, Chartier and Meier, than can only play in the NHL or have to return to the CHL (and their contracts slide).

The organization has indicated that players in the NHL will play.  So, that if a young player isn’t getting a lot of ice time if on the NHL roster, he may end up in the AHL for playing time.

So, who “will” make the NHL squad?  Who “might” make the NHL roster?

My guess?

Goalies: Jones, Stalock
Unless Grosenick vastly outplays Stalock, this should be the season starting pair.

Defense: Braun, Burns, Dillon, Martin, Mueller, Tennyson, Vlasic  Mueller (still on ELS) has multiple years of waiver exemption remaining.  Tennyson would have to clear waivers to play in AHL. DeMelo is mentioned as someone who might make the team.

Forwards: Brown, Couture, Goodrow, Hertl, Karlsson, Marleau, Nieto, Pavelski, Smith, Thornton, Tierney, Torres, Ward, Wingels
Hertl, Karlsson and Nieto are nearly out of waiver exemption. Goodrow and Tierney have some waiver years left. A few of the 3rd/4th liners might end up plying their trade elsewhere (potentially Brown, Nieto, Smith, Torres).  Donskoi has been a revelation and I believe will unseat someone in the depth chart. Goldobin seems to be penciled in for the NHL roster.

Definitely a year where the competition will be fierce for a NHL roster spot.  And well worth keeping an eye on what’s happening at training camp.

Training Camp D-day (150917)

News of the day. Camp roster reduced. “Old” news from last week’s events being released.  Former Shark news.

SJ Sharks: Sharks Reduce Training Camp Roster by Eight
Down to 55.  3 TO players, 5 CHL-eligible players remain (3 with contracts, 2 without).

SJ Mercury News

NHL.com: Unmasked: Goalie symposium ‘think tank’ for coaches
Hedberg and Nabokov participated

Sportsnet

NBC/PHT: Brad Winchester announces retirement
Former Shark

And other former Shark news: Bernier signs one year deal with Islanders. Heatley signs in DEL.

CSN Sharks: DeBoer committed to wiping Sharks’ slate clean

Toronto Sun: 30 Questions for 30 NHL Teams: Part 2 – Western Conference

The Hockey News: Thornton, GM Wilson mend relationship as Sharks looks to get back on track