Summer officially started for Sharks fans last night, ten minutes forty-eight seconds into the second overtime period. This traditionally entails gnashing of teeth, wearing of sack-cloth and ashes, complaints about officiating, excuses about late-season and post-season injuries, and optimistic starry-eyed tripe like “next year they’ll come back even better.” That may well be, but it certainly won’t be the same 2010-2011 San Jose team.
According to Capgeek, San Jose is already in the hole for about $51,000,000 of salary cap for 2011-2012, with millions locked up in Heatley, Thornton, Marleau, and Boyle, all of whom have no-trade or no-movement clauses in their contracts. They’re not going anywhere, but several over players are either potential trade fodder or entering free agency in one form or another. There’s a lot of wiggle room in the roster:
- Joe Pavelski is a solid performer, but with $12,000,000 and three years left in his contract, it’s a bit of a stretch to assume folks are looking to trade for such an expensive third-line center.
- Ryane Clowe, with $7,500,000 contracted over the next two years and some serious work ethic through the rough patches, may be a touch more appealing on the trade market.
- Devin Setoguchi goes restricted free agent this summer. $1,800,000 for a winger that dumped Dany Heatley off the first line is pretty cheap, so we can expect #16 to see some tempting offers.
- Torrey Mitchell is looking to earn $1,725,000 in the last year of his contract. He started to shine again once the Sharks put him on a line with Wellwood and Pavelski, so he is probably a viable trading piece.
- Ben Eager is relatively inexpensive, as most 4th-liners are, and is an unrestricted free agent this summer. After some ill-advised penalties in the post-season, his stock has probably fallen a fair bit.
- Benn Ferriero goes restricted free agent after spending most of the year in the AHL. It would be unwise to put a lot of expectation on him at this point.
- Scott Nichol anchored the 4th line for most of the 2011-2012 season, is a fan favorite, is spoken highly of by other players and coaching staff, is a faceoff-winning machine, and works cheap. Somehow he won’t be re-signed. The Sharks do their damnedest to troll me.
- Kyle Wellwood is much too good for the money he’s pulling in from San Jose. He answered his doubters with solid performance, and you can expect him to be working somewhere else for a fair bit more.
- Jamal Mayers is a cheap workhorse that I keep seeing on breakaways that he just can’t close the deal on. The Sharks played him all but four games in the regular season, but I suspect they’ll let him go if they find opportunities elsewhere.
And that’s just among the forwards. Expect the Sharks to lose five to eight of their regulars (including defensemen). The depth, speed, toughness, and work ethic of the 2011-2012 team are all going to be tweaked for good or ill.