The San Jose Sharks most sensationalized season in franchise history came to an abrupt end during Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals at the hands of the St. Louis Blues.
The 2018 – 2019 campaign had extreme highs and some devastating lows. The San Jose Sharks invested heavily into this season only to get stymied by a Blues team whose depth and dominate blue line outmatched the worn out Team Teal in 6 brutal Games.
General Manager Doug Wilson pulled out all the stops this season adding Erik Karlsson before the start of training camp in a blockbuster deal with the Ottawa Senators. Not only this but he added Gus Nyquist an experienced play maker at the trade deadline to bolster the forward depth.
Even with these additions the San Jose Sharks ultimately fell short of their goal of winning the Stanley Cup. Now with the locker room cleaned out and the off-season officially beginning for Team Teal, what exactly lies ahead when it comes to roster construction?
The San Jose Sharks have 11 expiring contracts on the books, 7 UFA’s and 4 RFAs. The biggest names include Joe Pavelski, Erik Karlsson, Timo Meier, and Joe Thornton but there are few other core pieces looking for new deals this summer.
Team Teal will have around 24.7 Million in cap space to work this summer, according to CapFriendly. That money will most likely be used to keep the current constructed roster, but after today the future of Erik Karlsson in Teal got even murkier.
Now with EK65’s return in question the Sharks front office is going to have an easier time when it comes to extending other expiring contracts. According to EvolvingWild’s contract projection model they predict some of the contracts for the Sharks shaking out like this. Pavelski at 3 x 7.5, Thornton 1 x 3.25, Meier 6 x 5.9, and Labanc 3 x 3.7 million AAV.
These projections are not definitive but are good indicators of what to expect from the Sharks front office. Yet there are a few factors to keep in mind when hearing about the ongoing negations between these players with expiring contracts and the front office.
First off Thornton’s contract will likely fluctuate depending on what Doug Wilson feels this team needs to win. He signed last year for 1 year 5 million dollars after the Sharks struck out on John Tavares. This deal felt like more of a pay you now because we can, so we can keep on the roster later for cheap sort of agreement. Thornton indicated that he is a Shark and won’t go anywhere else. So don’t be surprised if we see his deal being very team friendly when it’s all said and done.
Secondly, rumor has it that Timo Meier’s agent Claude Lemieux is a tough sell and gets what his clients want out of deals. During this weeks 31 Thoughts Podcast Elliotte Friedman noted that even with Doug Wilson’s reputation as a strong negotiator he shouldn’t expect a potential perennial 30 goal scoring power forward to come cheap.
Lastly don’t be surprised if we don’t see players like Tim Heed, Joakim Ryan, Joonas Donskoi, or Gustav Nyquist back in San Jose. Team Teal’s depth faltered in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but most notably in Round 3.
Donskoi looked good for brief portions of the postseason, but only ended up recording 3 points in 12 games played. His nearly 5 month long goalless drought really hurt his reputation with the coaching staff and with the fan base.
Tim Heed is a valuable player, with his right-handed shot and puck moving ability being sought after in today’s league. Which means that it could be likely that he heads out of the Bay Area seeking more of a permanent role on a roster.
Joakim Ryan also could be seeking a change of scenery, especially with Radim Simek’s emergence during 2018 – 2019. A shift out east would be beneficial for Ryan who doesn’t seem to have the size to play in the western conference.
The last unknown is the future of Gustav Nyquist is San Jose. Similar to Karlsson’s comments his thoughts about the organization had a seemingly ominous tone. He’s a valuable player and fit well with Logan Couture and Timo Meier. However there are few things holding Team Teal back from committing to the 29-year-old.
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One problem is that the conditional pick the Sharks used to acquire him upgrades to a 2nd rounder in 2020 if they choose to extend him. Also his price tag might be too high for the front office to justify adding long-term. This is likely Nyquist’s last big payday and he will be looking for the most money as possible. With San Jose having other players to prioritize this could leave Nyquist heading to free agency this summer.
Ultimately the Sharks have what seems like a lot of cap space, but with all these expiring contracts on the books they’ll need all the room they can scrap together. The front office needs to focus their efforts on retaining the likes of Timo Meier, Joe Pavelski, and Kevin Labanc if they want to stay relevant in today’s league.
All this leads to a very interesting summer for the San Jose Sharks after a disappointing end to the season. All the team and front office can do now is rehab, reassess, and retool heading into their 29th season in league. It will be a long summer vacation but training camp is only approximately 4 months away. . .