A time that once seemed so far off, the San Jose Sharks are set to embark on the 2013-14 season—the last before the impending free agencies of the franchise’s core group of players.
Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski were all scheduled to be free agents after the 2013-14 season. But after the contract extensions of Couture and Pavelski over the summer, the team is now set to make decisions on whether or not to re-sign their veteran core—the players who arguably put San Jose on the hockey map.
This is exactly how general manager Doug Wilson and Co. planned it all, though. Couture and Pavelski both earned their extensions during the span of their much cheaper contracts, which leaves the remaining aging trio to decide their own fate during the 2013-14 season.
Thornton, Marleau and Boyle have shown a few signs of slowing down, as was evident from the lockout-shortened 2013 NHL season. That may have altered the Sharks’ plans for the trio to some extent.
With the prospect pool running thin as of late, San Jose has already made it clear the team would like the three veterans to return to the team past the contract limits of the 2013-14 season.
CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz is reporting that the Sharks are already in talks to re-sign Thornton, Marleau and Boyle.
“We don’t talk about negotiations publicly,” Wilson said. “Have we had discussions with the other three? Yes. Will we have discussions going forward? The answer is yes.”
Kurz calls it “unlikely” that anything will be done before the start of the season. In fact, he feels individual performance will dictate who will continue to wear teal in 2014-15.
Who Is the Most Likely to Return to the Sharks in 2014-15?
While there will be a form of competition amongst the three players, who will rake in the team’s highest salaries during 2013-14, the likelihood of Thornton or Marleau leaving such good situations in a city where they have built names for themselves is slim.
Boyle, on the other hand, is a wild card heading into the 2013-14 season. There were times on the ice over the past couple of seasons where he was a liability, and he will need to prove to the Sharks that he can contribute on a Stanley Cup contending team. Plus, the Sharks showed they have some young defensemen ready to step up, with more to come up the pipeline in the next few seasons.
All three should be looking at lesser contracts and for fewer years than might have first been first anticipated, though. Boyle is 37 years old and looking to land his last NHL contract, while Thornton, 34, and Marleau, 33, will be looking at two or three-year deals with the Sharks if the team decides to re-sign them.
Sharks fans should expect the return of Thornton and Marleau past the 2013-14 season on short-term deals while the franchise evaluates where their pool of young prospects stands. But Boyle will have to have a significant impact on the team’s success if he and his $6.6 million salary this season expect to stick around San Jose longer than this year.
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