As NHL free agency nears, San Jose Sharks have decisions to make

So how much more change will there be to the Sharks roster?

There should be some, but after completing some of the heavy lifting earlier this week with a pair of trades, maybe not as much as one might think.

As the NHL prepares for the first day of free agency, questions loom about what will happen between the Sharks and their own pending unrestricted free agents — Joe Thornton, Melker Karlsson and Stefan Noesen.

There’s also the question of how much help the Sharks, who have only so much room left under the NHL’s salary cap, will seek to add from the outside.

Thornton, Karlsson and Noesen will be free to sign with other teams as of Friday at 9 a.m. (PT), when the Sharks, too, have the opportunity to bring in more fresh blood to try and return to the playoffs next season. The Sharks traded for goalie Devan Dubnyk and forward Ryan Donato earlier this week to address two areas of need.

“You’re always open and exploring,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said Wednesday. “If we look at players that fit for now and the future, and there’s somebody that fits, we will look into it. I’ve said it several times: Our best players have to be our best players. They have to set the tone.

“But do you look at ways to add to your team? Yes, Whether that’s in a bigger deal or around the fringes, those are the things that we’ll be talking about in the next few days and see what makes sense.”

Noesen and Karlsson would figure to be players who could easily fit in with the more structured mindset that coach Bob Boughner wants to employ next season, potentially at economical prices.

Noesen, 27, made the league minimum $700,000 last season and would likely not cost that much more to re-sign. After he was claimed on waivers on Dec. 19, he seemed to adjust quickly to his environment and Boughner’s system, and became a fan favorite with his tenacity.

How is everyone doing on this fine afternoon?!

— Stefan Noesen (@stefannoesen) October 8, 2020

Karlsson, 30, has been a reliable depth forward for the Sharks for years and is one of the team’s leading penalty killers. But the three-year contract he signed in 2017 carried a $2 million annual cap hit. Unless he takes a pay-cut and agrees to a shorter term deal for his next contract, his days in San Jose may be over.

Then there’s Thornton, the franchise icon who has done everything in his Hall of Fame-caliber career except win a Stanley Cup. He bleeds teal, no question, and he wants to continue to play.

But it’s possible that Thornton, 41, may also want to assess where the Sharks stand after free agency in the coming days before he makes a decision on where he would like to play next season. The Sharks addressed two areas of need with Dubnyk and Donato, but would still appear to be a long way from being legitimate Cup contenders.

San Jose …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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