Before the San Jose Sharks can go looking for new free agents to sign, they must finish signing their own.
The last of the series on who should stay and who should go (with links to the rest done for Examiner.com) predicts they should have about $6 million left under the 2013-14 salary cap. There would be 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies on the roster.
The Cap Calculator on Cap Geek also lists that same amount of room on the roster. One potential complication is the injury to Martin Havlat, which may block a compliance buyout on him, but they could at the very least bury him in the minors or convince him to play in his native Czech Republic to take him off their payroll.
If that's the case, San Jose then has room to sign almost anyone to bolster its anemic scoring. But that lineup also relies on a lot of youth to fill out the blue line and goaltending, leaving a lot of uncertainty.
They would also need another scoring line forward. It is possible that Tomas Hertl could make the team, but unlikely that he is ready for that much responsibility. The Sharks would probably have to send a veteran role player down and still see their cap space drop to about $5.4 million.
A team with so many veterans in the last year of their contract needs to look at this season as their last chance to get a Stanley Cup with this core. That means spending all of that money to get a player or two better and get over the top. It also means looking at whether they want to count on so many young players.
With that in mind, we take a look at what is out there to boost San Jose. It is most likely that any additions will be unrestricted free agents (UFAs), since teams rarely sign away anyone significant that is restricted, so that is the focus here.
Cap Geek projected almost all UFAs at the same cost as last year (they will face a buyer's market preventing them from getting big raises), but some variance from that will be considered. Here are the five players to pursue, their approximate cost and how they fit the team's needs for 2013-14.