The number of young players headed to restricted free agency this summer is shifting the landscape of the NHL. Where do the San Jose Sharks stand?
Now more than ever, younger players are starting to have a massive impact on the game of hockey. That is where restricted free agency comes into play for the San Jose Sharks and throughout the NHL.
Young players are bringing a quicker pace and more entertaining product. However, that comes at a price. Since teams are always spending to their cap limit, a player coming off an entry-level contract can command a raise that can cripple.
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With training camp opening, many young players are refusing to report. Most notably, Jacob Trouba has requested a trade from the Winnipeg Jets.
Any team would be lucky to land a young, two-way defenseman that is built like a truck. Even if the Sharks don’t have cap space or room on their defense, Trouba is an option that any team should consider. So what is the asking price?
San Jose probably won’t outbid other teams to win this lottery, but have two left-shot defenseman on the third pair. That gives the team the flexibility to trade a young defenseman like Brenden Dillon.
However, the Sharks would have a tough time honoring his request to play top-four minutes even if they pulled off a miracle trade. At the very least Justin Braun, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Brent Burns will remain ahead of him.
Thus the dream of having one of the league’s most dominant defenses will have to wait. But Trouba isn’t the only fish available…what about the other guys?
The Pacific Allergy
As some other San Jose fans have noticed, four of the seven remaining RFAs play in the Pacific Division. Why do they want to leave?
A Calgary Flames team without Johnny Gaudreau becomes much more palatable for opponents. An Anaheim Ducks offseason that involves hiring Randy Carlyle and missing their best defenseman is enough for Sharks fans to throw a parade. And while Tobias Rieder isn’t elite, he is a useful piece for anyone that has a hole in their forward depth.
Those restricted free agency unknowns leave the bottom of the Pacific Division in doubt. That is why San Jose is ecstatic Tomas Hertl and even Matt Nieto signed the cap-friendly deals they did.
What Are The Sharks Going To Do?
The answer is nothing. The Sharks have under $1 million in salary cap space. That leaves few options to add to their roster unless Patrick Marleau is going the other way.
The roster is set. Doug Wilson has already noted that the remaining spots are going to younger players, whether that be Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc or Mirco Mueller. Don’t expect the Sharks to make a trade anytime soon.