NHL Rumor Mill – April 26, 2017
Latest on the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild in your NHL rumor mill.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance suggested the San Jose Sharks should re-sign center Joe Thornton to a short-term contract, let winger Patrick Marleau depart via free agency unless he’s willing to accept a steep discount and explore ways to get out of disappointing winger Mikkel Boedker’s contract. Thornton and Marleau are both 37 and eligible for unrestricted free agent status in July. Boedker’s earning $4 million annually through 2019-20.
THE MERCURY NEWS: Paul Gackle reports Thornton and Marleau both expressed their desire to re-sign with the Sharks. Contract talks between the two and general manager Doug Wilson have yet to begin. Wilson also has to deal with re-signing defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and goaltender Martin Jones to contract extensions. Both are signed through next season and slated for UFA status next July.
Mark Purdy wonders if Wilson will be forced to choose between Thornton and Marleau. He also points out Thornton’s willingness to play on an injured knee in their series against the Edmonton Oilers could make Wilson feel obligated to re-sign the veteran center.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $54 million invested in 15 players for 2017-18 and Thornton and Marleau their only notable free agents this summer, the Sharks can afford to re-sign the duo this summer. Given their age and the decline last season in their production, Thornton and Marleau won’t get any expensive long-term deals from the Sharks or anyone else. Of the two, I can see Thornton getting a two-year offer from the Sharks for around $5 million annually. Marleau could get a one-year, bonus-laden deal that takes him up to $4.5 million.
As for Boedker, it’s unlikely the Sharks will find any takers for his contract unless they’re willing to pick up part of it or toss in a good young player in a package deal. A buyout would cost them $1.2 million next season against their cap, followed by over $2 million annually for the next two seasons, followed by over $1.08 million over the remaining three years.
TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani reports Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher admitted there will be changes to his roster in the wake of another disappointing early playoff exit, but he won’t be overhauling the roster. He pointed to the club’s finishing with their best record (106 points) in franchise history.
Fletcher must re-sign restricted free agent forwards Markus Granlund and Nino Niederreiter, find a suitable backup for starting goalie Devan Dubnyk and figure out which players to protect in the June expansion draft. Head coach Bruce Boudreau would like to add a physical defenseman.
Chad Graff reports it’s unlikely the Wild will re-sign center Martin Hanzal, who’s eligible for UFA status in July. The Wild acquired Hanzal before the trade deadline, but Graff cited the Wild’s limited salary-cap space and Hanzal’s inconsistent production.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild have over $61 million invested in 15 players. Even by losing a salaried player to the expansion draft, much of their remaining cap space will be taken up re-signing Granlund, Niederreiter and Erik Haula (who have arbitration rights this summer) to new contracts.
Hanzal’s performance with the Wild did little to bolster their value in the UFA market. Their biggest decision could be determining which defenseman – Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba or Marco Scandella – to protect in the expansion draft. One of them is gone for sure.