Trade speculation persists about San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, and Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos’ agent discusses his client’s contract talks. 

Marleau trade speculation persists.

Trade chatter persists over Sharks forward Patrick Marleau.

Trade chatter persists over Sharks forward Patrick Marleau.

SPORTSNET: Damien Cox cited colleague Elliotte Friedman’s report on Saturday claiming San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau has resurfaced in the trade rumor mill. Cox feels it’s uncertain if Marleau is seeking a trade or if he’s been asked to waive his no-movement clause. He also notes the 36-year-old is carrying an annual cap hit of over $6.66 million through 2016-17. “With 15 clubs either using LTIR space or within $1 million of the cap, there will be very few teams that can accomodate Marleau’s contract.”

TODAY’S SLAPSHOT: Chris Nichols cites Friedman telling Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 claiming “there is something going on in San Jose (with) Patrick Marleau. I don’t know exactly what it is, but he said the trade rumors were starting early this year on the weekend.” He claims he doesn’t know if it’s another team asking.

He also notes Marleau just built a beautiful new home in the San Jose area, so if he were to agree to move, it could be somewhere close to his home. Friedman also took pains to say that it remains uncertain if Marleau will agree to a trade, or who’s behind this rumor, but added people are just telling him never to say never. He also noted there could be some lingering bitterness remaining over the Sharks’ blowing a 3-0 series lead to the LA Kings in the opening round of the 2014 playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: When the San Jose media questioned Marleau on Sunday about the rumors, he laughed them off and said he hasn’t been approached by management about waiving his no-movement clause. He also declined to speculate if there’s any scenario where he would accept a trade. Even if teams are asking about Marleau, if management wanted him to accept a trade or if he was demanding to be dealt, Cox’s point about the limited numbers of teams who can accommodate his contract is a valid one.

There’s also a number of teams who have plenty of cap space, but are under self-imposed cap ceilings considerably lower than the league’s $71.4 million. Of the league’s lowest-scoring teams thus far, the Anaheim Ducks, Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes, Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils possess sufficient cap space to absorb Marleau’s cap hit. Of them, the Ducks, Predators, Hurricanes and Devils are on self-imposed cap ceilings. The Sabres ownership has a willingness to spend, but could be saving their dollars to invest in next summer’s potentially deep pool of UFA talent.

I can’t see the Sharks agreeing to ship Marleau to the Ducks and I have my doubts that they’ll send him to the Predators. I don’t believe Marleau, at this stage in his career, would accept a trade to a struggling club like the Hurricanes or a rebuilding one like the Sabres. The Devils are a playoff contender, but would Marleau agree to join them? And are they even in the market for an aging, expensive scorer?

If Marleau is to be dealt, I suspect that move happens near the Feb. 29th trade deadline at the earliest. 

Updates on Stamkos’ contract talks.

TSN (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Player agent Don Meehan, who represents Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, spoke yesterday about the contract situation between his client and the team. He claims it’s not unusual for some players to re-sign later in their final season, citing Anaheim’s Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf as recent examples. Meehan claims they’re “engaged” with Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, adding they have a great relationship.  He also notes it is important to practice due diligence when approaching this stage in a player’s career, meaning eligibility for unrestricted free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some will seize upon this as proof Stamkos is going to test the UFA market. Others will see it as an ongoing part of contract talks with the Lightning. My take is talks are ongoing but they’re not close to a deal yet.