With the 2016 Stanley Cup Final now over, what’s next for the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks? Read on to find out.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance believes the rise of Matt Murray as the Pittsburgh Penguins starting goalie in the 2016 playoffs and the possibility of expansion on the horizon should make goalie Marc-Andre Fleury a trade candidate this summer. The Penguins also have limited salary-cap room for 2016-17, and Fleury’s $5.75 million annual cap hit through 2018-19 could be better used elsewhere in the roster. Custance feels Fleury could be a good fit with the Calgary Flames or Carolina Hurricanes, noting the latter has lots of draft picks and cap space.
Custance also suggests re-signing restricted free agent defenseman Justin Schultz if possible to an affordable deal that is less than his current cap hit of $3.9 million, while pending unrestricted free agent blueliner Ben Lovejoy earned the right to return. He also believes the Pens should extend goalie Matt Murray’s contract.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Dave Molinari reports Fleury understands he faces an uncertain future. It’s possible the Penguins could lose him to a possible expansion draft next June. Molinari speculates Fleury could ask to be sent elsewhere, despite carrying a limited no-trade clause. Center Matt Cullen, 40, might opt for retirement, though he intends to take some time to consider his future.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins are currently carrying over $73 million in cap payroll. Even if the cap rises to $74 million they won’t have enough space to re-sign anyone, let alone bolster their roster by promoting from their farm system or signing unrestricted free agents. They will get $3.75 million of cap relief if Pascal Dupuis (blood clots) retires or is placed on long-term injured reserve at the start of next season. However, they still need to free up more room and Fleury is the obvious trade candidate. Calgary or Carolina could be good choices, provided they’re on his list of 18 clubs he’ll accept being traded to.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance believes the San Jose Sharks should lock up defenseman Brent Burns to a long-term extension, while left wing Tomas Hertl (a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract this summer) is also due a nice raise.
He also believes it’s time for the Sharks to part ways with 36-year-old forward Patrick Marleau, who has a year left on his contract worth $6.7 million. The Sharks might have to retain some of his salary, but it would be worth it to invest the savings in bolstering their roster depth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marleau has a full no-movement clause. Earlier this season, he listed the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers as three preferred trade destinations. Given the fact the Ducks are a budget club, the Kings have cap issues and the Rangers could look at shedding salary and getting younger, he won’t be going to those teams. If Sharks GM Doug Wilson wants to move Marleau, and if he’s willing to accept a trade, the veteran forward must expand his list.
Burns has a year left on his contract at a cap hit of $5.76 million. His age (31) could be a concern. If he’ll accept between $7.5 to $8 million per season on a four- or five-year deal, the Sharks could do it.