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.

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!