San Jose Sharks Sign Michal Handzus, Jim Vandermeer

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San Jose Sharks Sign Michal Handzus, Jim Vandermeer
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Michal Handzus will no longer battle Dany Heatley and Dan Boyle as a rival

It was not an especially active opening day of free agency for the San Jose Sharks.

Only two players, Michal Handzus and Jim Vandermeer, were signed to contracts. Only Ben Eager (Edmonton) and Jamal Mayers (Chicago) have new homes to head to.

Vandermeer, 31, is a tough blue liner who gives the Sharks another defensive-minded player they need. His contract is reported as one year, $1 million.

Handzus, 34, gives the team a big centre who can skate, win draws and, like Vandermeer, is useful on a penalty kill that struggled in 2010-11. He also is capable of adding scoring production to a third line that at worst has Torrey Mitchell and Jamie McGinn, and was certainly worth $5 million over two years.

But the team still has its own free agents to make decisions on. Sharks GM Doug Wilson already had said he was going to let Mayers go this offseason, along with Niclas Wallin (who has said he will return to Sweden) and the still unsigned Scott Nichol.

Among others who played on the team last season not under contract are restricted free agent forwards Benn Ferriero and John McCarthy. Unrestricted free agents Kyle Wellwood, Ian White and Kent Huskins (almost certain to reside elsewhere next season) will also either need to be re-signed or replaced.

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The longer decisions go, the less likely that player is to be in San Jose. It generally means they have reason to believe what the Sharks are offering is going to be topped or that they are asking more to stay, perhaps because they see themselves in larger roles elsewhere.

According to CapGeek.com, San Jose currently carries a payroll less than $3.7 million from the cap. They have 10 forwards, eight players on the blue line and both net minders under contract.

That is technically enough to field a full team, but no team ever carries fewer than 22 players so at least two can be scratched. In fact, teams almost never carry fewer than 23 even on a temporary basis.

Thus, as it stands now, San Jose would bring up three forwards. The most ready are Tommy Wingels (22 years old, earning $875,000 with five games of NHL experience), Brandon Mashinter (22, $719,167 and 13 games played), and Frazer McLaren (23, $575,000 and 32 GP with six points).

Two of them would have to dress unless coach Todd McLellan went with seven players on the blueline (allowing him to play Justin Braun and Vandermeer). The Sharks would have two other platoon players in regularly, Andrew Desjardins and Jamie McGinn, the latter of whom would currently project to the third line.

But the Sharks would have $1,523,333 in cap space. Check out this link to find out why they should utilize the remaining cap space rather than stand pat.

Still, as construed this squad is nearly as good as the one that made the Western Conference Finals last season.

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