The San Jose Sharks have announced that both Patrick Marleau (a unrestricted free agent come July 1st) and Joe Pavelski (a restricted free agent come July 1st) have been signed to a pair four-year contract extensions, which will see Marleau earn a reported $6.9 million per season while Pavelski will earn $4 million per.
The news comes on the heals of the Sharks announcing that goaltender Evgeni Nabokov (a staple in San Jose) would not be tendered a new contract by the Sharks, leaving him free to sign elsewhere as a UFA.
Marleau—who was expected to be one of the more sought-after free agents on the market—bounced back from a sub-par 2007-08 season, which saw the Sharks' all-time leading scorer post 19 goals, 48 points, and an alarming minus-19 rating in 78 games. He has now posted back-to-back All-Star calibre seasons, with 38 goals and 71 points in 2008-09 and 44 goals and 83 points in 2009-10.
Pavelski (who emerged as a star with Team USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver) has posted back-to-back 25 goal seasons and looks to be on the cusp of greatness.
Originally drafted in the seventh round (205th) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Pavelski is expected to get a lot of consideration for the Sharks captaincy, which is now available due to defenseman Rob Blake’s retirement.
For the Sharks, the signings signal that they value their teams depth, and, while the signing of a veteran goaltender is not out of the question, it appears as if the club has chosen to use the cap room created by Nabokov’s dismissal to address other areas of the club, including at forward and defense (which is yet to come).
According to capgeek.com, the Sharks now have $47,890,000 dedicated to 14 players, with several unrestricted free agents left to decide on, including forwards Manny Malholtra, Scott Nicol, and Jed Ortmeyer, as well as defenseman Niclas Wallin, to name a few.
Devin Setoguchi is a restricted free agent in need of a long term contract. He is set to make $1.2 million in 2010-11—a two or three year deal in the $2.5-$3.5 million range is not out of the question.
Some UFA’s the Sharks may show interest in signing include veteran goaltender Marty Turco, defenseman Paul Martin, and forward Colby Armstrong—all of whom should be highly sought after.
Forwards Logan Couture (five goals, nine points, 25 games in 2009-10) and Jamie McGinn (10 goals, 13 points, 59 games in 2009-10), and defenseman Jason Demers are expected to make a bigger contribution to the Sharks in 2010-11.
Also expected to make a push to the big club are defensive prospects Nick Petrecki (a physical defenseman) and Derek Joslin (an offensive D-Man with a cannon for a shot and a decent hockey IQ).
With franchise cornerstone Joe Thornton about to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2011, the 2010-11 season will likely be his last hurrah, especially if the Sharks continue down the road of playoff failure/disappointment.
The Sharks have drawn their line in the sand and it appears as if they are comfortable going forward with the foursome of Pavelski, Marleau, Danny Heatley and Dan Boyle expected to lead the way for the Sharks over the next three seasons.
Like it or not, Sharks' fans can expect a number of new faces over that three year time-span. Fact is, given this teams lack of playoff success, the dynamic of the team is in need of a shift, which may or may not include allowing Thornton to be traded or being let to test the free agent waters.
One thing’s for sure, the housecleaning has already begun, and for that, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson should be applauded—it’s about time!
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Until next time,