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.

Teal-tinted free agent frenzy

As of June 29, the Sharks have 3 goalies, 10 defensemen and 20 forwards (plus pending buyout Burish) under NHL contract.  The nominal signed depth for the Sharks organization has been 5-6 goalies, 15-20 defensemen, 30-35 forwards (not counting signed players in the CHL).  So about another 20 signings to go.  (And some of those will be AHL deals rather than NHL.)

There are 6 RFAs, plus 5 UFAs (that could be re-signed), plus 12 other AHL players that could be re-signed.  And two college graduates (that need to be signed by August 15 or they become UFAs).  (Those figures may change as QOs are due 6/29. Some that are listed as RFAs may become UFAs if not qualified.  Or signed.)

And a handful of players not with the organization last year will be acquired (signed as free agent or traded for).

While the Sharks have tendered an offer sheet in the past, I don’t know that there are many players the Sharks would target (unless the RFA’s team is up against the cap).  (And the player has to want to play for your organization to even SIGN the offer sheet.  Some may receive them, but not sign.)

Obviously one top need is a new “#1” goalie.  This player may be signed in free agency (there are at least 26 as of June 29, including former Shark Greiss), but could be acquired by trade.  UFA options, under 30 years of age, include Kari Ramo, Jhonas Enroth, Thomas Greiss, Anders Lindback, Richard Bachman, Brad Thiessan, Jeremy Smith, Aaron Dell (signed by Sharks last year), and Allen York. Ramo, Enroth, Greiss, Lindback all have NHL experience.   Ramo might be an interesting option, if not re-signed by Calgary.

Sharks also need 2-3 more goalies to play in AHL and/or ECHL this season.  (UFA Dell and RFA Anderson could be re-signed.)

And the blue line needs some help.  One question to be answered is whether UFA Irwin is re-signed.  At least two NHL-ready defensemen are needed (Sharks may avail themselves of the UFA market, or try to land Bieksa or other signed player).  And another 3+ defensemen to fill out playing depth.

Up front, another 7-10 players are needed.  (My guess is that the majority would be prospect/depth players, not top end players.) I would expect the Sharks to sign a handful of prospects for development and 2 or so NHL depth (3rd/4th line) type guys, and some journeymen to help mentor in AHL.

Lots of needs.  Lots of options.

Some of the prospects the Sharks might be targeting, could be participating in the development camp, the second week of July.  (If of “draft” age, the Sharks can sign the CHL-bound players and keep them around a few years; but that nominally happens with players invited to “Rookie” camp in September, and not development camp in the summer.)

Let the speculation begin!

The Summer Knows – part 4 forwards

She sees the doubts
Within your eyes

If you want to summarize the Sharks reason for losing games, they scored less than the opposition.  And the forwards are those counted on for most of the offense.

(Note – depth chart position does NOT necessarily denote line combinations.)

Depth chart (of signed players):

Centers: Pavelski, Thornton, Couture, Hertl, Tierney, Marleau, Wingels, Jevpalovs, Burish

Left Wings: Nieto, Torres

Right Wings: Goldobin, Smith, Goodrow, Brown, Carpenter

Pending RFAs: Chris Crane, Petter Emanuelson, Eriah Hayes, Melker Karlsson, Rylan Schwartz, Daniil Tarasov; pending UFAs: Michael Haley, Bryan Lerg, John Scott, Travis Oleksuk; expiring AHL UFAs: Vincent Arseneau, Jimmy Bonneau, Daniel Ciampini, Willie Coetzee, Daniel Doremus, Brendan Ellis, Trevor Parkes, Evan Trupp.

Given the Sharks estimated cap space, the team MAY choose to buy out Burish (two years remaining).