After making many key moves last summer, Doug Wilson won’t have to be as busy this year but will have some key decisions to make this offseason.
The San Jose Sharks made a historic run to the Stanley Cup Final, but after falling short of the ultimate prize, interest now turns to general manager Doug Wilson.
After a disastrous summer in 2014, seemingly every move Wilson made last offseason paid off. Take your pick: the Martin Jones trade, or the Paul Martin signing, or how about bringing in Joel Ward, or finally, the Joonas Donskoi finding, the one nobody saw coming.
This year, Wilson won’t have as much work to do as a majority of their key players are already under contract for next season.
Currently, Nick Spaling, Dainius Zubrus, Micheal Haley, Roman Polak, Matt Tennyson and James Reimer are the only unrestricted free agents. Throw in restricted free agents in Tomas Hertl, Matt Nieto and Dylan DeMelo and the Sharks don’t have too many holes to fill.
According to General Fanager, San Jose will have about $10.5 million in cap space for the upcoming season.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top priorities for team teal this offseason:
Patrick Marleau – How Does He Fit?
This is the million dollar, or six million dollar if you like, question for Wilson and the Sharks this summer.
More from Blades of Teal
- San Jose Sharks fans need this Erik Karlsson shirt from BreakingT
- Norris Trophy odds show Erik Karlsson a step above the rest
- Are you the 2021 FanSided Sports Fan of the Year?
- Korenar deserves a chance at the NHL level
- Three prospects the Sharks should consider drafting
Marleau bounced around the lineup this year and had his lowest point total since the 2007-08 season. His 25 goals were solid, but a majority of his 48 points came on the power play. Also, he had a career-worst minus-
After reports earlier in the year surfaced about Marleau requesting a trade, I was certain Marleau would be moving on after the assets Wilson shipped out for Jones and at the trade deadline.
However, Marleau is still under contract for one more year and didn’t sound like a player who was ready to move on from San Jose.
With his point totals dropping the past two years, finding the right role for Marleau will be critical for the Sharks moving forward. If they do decide to move Marleau, that will free up $6.66M in cap space, a significant amount for Wilson to work with.
Resign Tomas Hertl
This is a no-brainer as the 22-year-old Hertl had a very solid campaign for team teal. He finished the season with 21 goals, 25 assists, 46 points and a plus-16 rating, all career highs.
He formed one of the most potent lines in all hockey alongside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. The interesting questions will be if Peter DeBoer decides to keep him on the top line or if Hertl is shifted back into a center role where the organization sees his future.
Add More Depth
Once Hertl went out of the Stanley Cup Final, the Sharks just ran out of viable options to keep pace with the Penguins.
Wilson must target another key forward up front, likely someone who can play in multiple situations. Also, keep an eye on what San Jose does with top prospects such as Timo Meier and Nikolay Goldobin as they could be an option at some point.
On the blue line, it’s almost a certainty DeMelo will be brought back into the fold, but Wilson will still need to add another depth defenseman as Mirco Mueller still doesn’t appear ready for regular NHL action.
Polak likely played his way out of San Jose with his struggles in the Cup Finals, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he was brought back to add a physical presence against some of the heavier Western Conference teams.
Regardless, some sort of decision will have to be made as the Sharks ability to defend was a key reason they made it as far as they did.
Finally, team teal needs to find a backup solution behind Jones as Reimer will move on to pursue a full-time gig somewhere else. San Jose doesn’t need to pay top dollar for this position as they only need someone who can give them around 15-20 starts per year. Maybe the Sharks will promote either Aaron Dell or Troy Grosenick from the AHL and see if they can handle the duty.
With team teal limited in the draft pick department, Wilson will have to do the majority of his work via trade or free agency as he continues to search for the right pieces to take this franchise to the top.