Sharks @ Canucks 160228

Meeting for the first time this season, the Sharks and Canucks will battle THREE times in the next week!

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On Friday, the Sharks took the lead, but could only get one past the Sabres’ Johnson.  Meanwhile, Jones let two in (plus an empty netter).  Close game.  DeBoer was non-commital over the starting goalie in the next two games before Friday’s game.

The Canucks are looking for their first three-game winning streak this season, when they host the Sharks on Sunday evening.  Canucks won Thursday against the visiting Senators.

On Saturday, the Sharks traded backup Stalock (and Ben Smith, pick) to Toronto for James Reimer and prospect Jeremy Morin.  Morin is reporting to the Barracuda, but it’ll be a couple of days for Reimer’s work visa to be arranged for him to join the team, so Aaron Dell has been recalled from AHL Barracuda. DW says “never say never” that he’s done trading (prior to TDL), but he has addressed the three areas they needed help in the most.

The Canucks’ may be distracted by upcoming TDL:  Hamhuis is rumored to be on the move.

Guessing Jones will get the start vs Miller.

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.

Recapping Sharks transactions through 150705

So, last summer, the Sharks did not pursue any key free agents, and did not pursue any significant trades.  As a consequence, they fell behind the other teams that moved forward, and actually fell back another step in part due to some chronic injuries and poor showing in the month of February.  As a consequence, the Sharks playoff streak was snapped, to the great consternation and disappointment of fans.

This year, the Sharks made a move after the draft to shore up their goal tending, and signed a handful of recognizable UFAs in the opening days of free agency.

That fills in most of the holes for the NHL roster, but there are still some openings that younger kids could fill.  For the rest of the summer, many of the signings may be positioned to be for the Barracuda.  It may also be that some of the try out players at this upcoming week’s development camp may allow the Sharks to fill some of those positions (or take notes for future moves).  7 of the 9 drafted players at last week’s draft will be participating in the development camp

On to the news:

To reiterate, the Sharks acquired Martin Jones on 6/30, and signed him to a three year extension (in advance of free agency opening, but it was not announced until 7/2).

On the opening day of free agency, the Sharks addressed their blueline, signing Paul Martin to a four year deal.

Longtime Sharks Front Office Executive Wayne Thomas Retires
Sharks announce Bob Boughner and Johan Hedberg as assistant coaches to Peter DeBoer

Sharks re-sign forward Bryan Lerg to one year deal 6/30, announced 7/2
Sharks sign former Shark forward John McCarthy to one year deal
Sharks re-Sign Forward Micheal Haley to one year deal

Sharks Sign Defenseman Patrick McNally. Acquired at draft for pick; collegiate graduate.  ELS deal; two years.

Sharks Sign UFA Defenseman Mark Cundari

Sharks Sign UFA Forward Joel Ward

Sharks 2015 Development Camp Roster Announced

No news out of the Sharks on 7/4 (a US Federal Holiday) and 7/5 (GM Wilson’s birthday).  Monday 7/6 begins the Sharks development camp.

General news

CSN Sharks

ESPN: Sharks look like contenders again

Free agency eve – news 150630

Sharks acquire goalie Martin Jones for a pick (2016 1st) and prospect (collegian Sean Kuraly); and sign to multi-year deal.  Rivalry intensifies. Sharks makes Dillion re-signing official.  Sharks announce qualifying offers. Lerg re-signed.

SJ Sharks: Sharks Acquire Goaltender Martin Jones from Bruins
SJ Merc | CSN Sharkstake 2 | Spectors Hockey | Sportsnet.ca | NBC/PHT | NHL | AP | CBS | NY Daily News | Gackle | Martin conf call | Wilson conf call
Agent confirms 3 year deal
NBC/PHT | Sportsnet.ca | CBS | Puck Daddy

SJSharks: Sharks Re-Sign Defenseman Brenden Dillon
Official announcement
SJ Merc | Conf call | AP

SJSharks: Sharks Issue Qualifying Offers
SJ Merc | CSN Sharks

Rumor: Former Shark-organization goalie Johan Hedburg hired as new Sharks goalie coach.

Lavoie indicates that UFA Bryan Lerg has been re-signed to one year deal.

Please note, I’ll be traveling until Sunday, so updates may be sporadic or non-existent.  Follow on Twitter for the latest.

Preparing for free agency – 140629 news

So, today, former Shark Antii Niemi signed a three year deal with the Stars, Sharks launch 25th anniversary promos, Konrad Abeltshauser traded to St Louis, and Brendan Dillon signed to five year extension. (While the deadline for Qualifying offers is 6/29, the Sharks don’t plan to release their list until 6/30.)

7 players and builders named as 2015 inductees into the HHOF

SJSharks

SJ Merc

CSN Sharks

Gackle Report

AP: Sharks Still Searching For Starting Goalie Following Draft

AP: Sharks keep Brenden Dillon with 5-year deal

THN: Behind the scenes of NHL free agency: how deals get done

NBC/PHT: Even after flurry of trades, goalie market is far from settled

NBC/PHT: Sharks agree to five-year deal with Brenden Dillon

CBS: NHL free agency: 10 notable UFAs to watch on July 1

USA Today: Top 25 NHL unrestricted free agents in 2015

150302 – trade deadline notes and pregame Canadiens @ Sharks 7pm

Shark Trade Tracker

  • Sunday: Sharks put Tye McGinn on waivers; claimed by Arizona Coyotes
  • Pending-UFA James Sheppard to New York Rangers for 2016 4th. $100,000 salary retained per reports
  • Pending-UFA Andrew Desjardins to Chicago for C Ben Smith; to wear #21, expected in lineup tonight
  • Pending-UFA Tyler Kennedy to NY Islanders for 2016 conditional 3rd-7th pick
  • Pending-RFA Freddie Hamilton to Colorado for D Karl Stollery

Game information

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Sharks are coming off a month without one win at home. One final game on a short home stand before heading out on one game road trip to Vancouver and returning home. On Sunday, the players stayed off the ice and went off site for a player-only meeting.

Montreal is in town for the first meeting of the teams this season.

Stalock vs Price tonight

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NYR side of Sheppard trade

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Shark chum or apex predator?

The NHL trade deadline for the 2014-2015 season is March 2, noon PT.

The Sharks are still pushing for a younger “generation” as leaders and key players as part of a “reset, refresh” (aka “rebuilding on the fly”), with finding new homes for ineffective veterans and expanding roles for young vets and rookies.

What did the Sharks do last year?

Last year in the weeks leading up to the March 5 trade deadline, the Sharks were sellers, trading away 3 minor league players, only acquiring 1 minor league player and a conditional 7th round pick in exchange. Not very active, and no NHL roster impacts.

Over the summer, they traded Dan Boyle’s rights, bought out Martin Havlat; traded Brad Stuart. They also signed four UFAs (Scott plus 3 minor leaguers), and made one trade acquisition (McGinn).

Since last spring, the Sharks have signed three undrafted free agents (Carpenter, Goodrow, Jevpalovs) and three draftees to ELCs (Bergman, Chartier, Goldobin); Goodrow is the only one that made the NHL roster out of camp.

Where are the Sharks this year?

The Sharks have swapped D men (Dillon for Demers, retaining salary), and demoted Burish to AHL.

And managed to stay in the playoff sweepstakes, even with some impactful injuries, even after setting NHL record with 15 road games in the first 21 games of the season.

What assets do the Sharks have for trades?

Sharks have more than $4m in cap space, and about five NHL contract slots available to acquire players, with 4 goalies, 12 defensemen, 29 forwards active on NHL deals. (That contract limit reduces if any player heads to the NHL after their European/junior year is over.)

The Sharks have 14 pending RFA (and/or group VI UFA) players, 10 pending UFAs, plus 10 players on AHL deals.

The Sharks have their own 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th plus acquired 4th and 5th 2015 draft picks, but given the expected depth of the draft, I’m guessing the Sharks would like to acquire more picks if possible.

What do the Sharks need?

Goal tending is an obvious need.

The fans are not sold on Niemi as a starter, but neither Stalock nor Grosenick have shown the skill and drive to take the net from him. Some fans have expressed an opinion that no goalie currently in the organization is the long term answer to the Sharks need in net. Sateri went to Europe (defected RFA), but I don’t feel that he can take the starter position either. Bergvik is the only unsigned draftee goalie in the pipeline, and it would be a year to two before he’d be in the NHL, if he has the skills and drive.

Since the death of Warren Strelow, the Sharks have not developed any NHL starters (back ups, yes, including Carter Hutton, Thomas Griess). This may also point to a need to change the goal tending coaching/development in the organization.

But can the Sharks acquire one via trade, or do they have to draft a possible #1 goalie? What are they willing to “spend” to get one via trade?

Defense is always a need.

Sharks have had some blue line prospects that have succeeded in the NHL, but a few that flamed out in development as a bust.  There are a couple AHLers (Tennyson, Abeltschauser) close to NHL time, but limited number of other drafted blue liners close to being in lineup.

Additions to the pipeline are always needed.

Forwards are forwards.

You can never have enough top flight offensive players.  Goldobin is someone who will be in the NHL perhaps as early as next season; Chartier and Jevpalovs have been showing their skills in the CHL; and Rod made a very good impression in the WJC tournament.

But finding young (under 27) such players available via trade can be a very expensive proposition.

The Sharks have had a good track record of finding/developing “character”/glue players for the 3rd and 4th line, but you’re always looking for more to keep the pipeline filled.

While often “less expensive” than an offensive player, it still takes the right combination to “make a deal.”

What might the Sharks do?

Wilson has said the Sharks won’t be acquiring any rental players at the trade deadline (I’d define “rental” as pending UFAs), but he might be targeting some pending RFAs or prospects for acquisition.  (This emphasis on youth has eliminated the Sharks from the services of top UFAs in the past couple of off seasons, as most of these players are closer to or past their “best used by” date, and the Sharks aren’t just “one player away” from a sure-fire Stanley Cup finalist (on paper). Plus given the Shark’s salary structure, they are not likely, nor willing, to offer the “max term, max $$” contract that some UFAs would be demanding.)

Some might be thinking Wilson is “overdue” for a big splash at the trade deadline. But right now, I’m just not seeing that as a very likely outcome.  The Sharks are probably more focusing two seasons down the road when Marleau’s and Thornton’s contracts expire, as to what the Sharks will be and become starting in the fall of 2017. (Not that they aren’t looking at filling the needed holes between now and then.)

While there were many rumors over the summer and continuing into the winter (perhaps brought on by the removal of captaincy/assistant letters) that the Sharks were looking for new homes for Marleau and Thornton (by waiving their respective NMCs), the team has never confirmed they were on the trade block, but has confirmed neither player was asked player to waive their NMC.  The truth is that both Marleau and Thornton are still effective on the ice and it would be hard to make any trade that returned even half of the offense (much less an equivalent amount of hockey sense). (And given their contract $$s, it would make more sense to trade them in the off season than at the deadline.)

There are a number of former Sharks players/prospects I cringe every time their current team faces the Sharks, including Bonino, Carle, Coyle, etc.  There are some very good former Sharks out there because they were traded away (for what I now perceive to be more of a short term fix). With the Sharks emphasis on youth, many of these players might not be offered in a trade today.  But you have to “give” a good player to “get” a good player.

However, I believe GM Wilson is more likely to be a seller.

NHL-experienced assets the Sharks might be looking at trading include Burish, Kennedy and Niemi.  While I might lump Hannan in that category, he’s been a solid #6/7 D man and has been depended on this season, so might not be offered.

There’s a rumor that the Sharks have been unable to trade Tyler Kennedy. But even if the Sharks did want to trade Burish, Kennedy, and Niemi (even as a package), it’s unlikely they’d get much return.  But realistically, if the Sharks get a good return for any of the pending UFAs, the return might be the thing that helps consummate the trade.

The Sharks have been much more conservative with their draft picks in the past few years, trying to hang on to them to help keep the pipeline filled.  The 2014 draft was the first in years where they selected not one collegiate-bound player; and while they have had some pretty good results from drafting the college-bound, they also have had some pretty horrendous busts, like the Daniels twins they drafted years ago. The philosophy seems to be to find more collegians as undrafted free agents, where they have had very good results (especially with spots opening up from players not retained meaning a higher slot in the depth chart).

Even if there’s a key injury between now and the trade deadline, the Sharks may lean more on their AHL depth to fill the hole, than attempt to acquire an asset for a short term fill.  (Now, if a good replacement for a season-ending injury comes up, that might be made, but I’d say it less likely, with the desire to hang on to draft picks and quality prospects.)

Time will tell what actually does transpire between now and the trade deadline.