Cancelled season could hurt several Sharks

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Cancelled season could hurt several Sharks

The 2012-13 NHL season is on life support, and the cord will likely be pulled some time in the middle of January if the league and players’ association can’t agree on a new collective bargaining agreement by then.

A lost season would be beneficial to absolutely no one, but there are certain players that it would damage more than others. That includes several on the San Jose Sharks’ roster.

Here, in no particular order, are the five Sharks with the most to lose should the league lose its second season in nine years.

Ryane Clowe - In his seven years in a Sharks sweater, Ryane Clowe has developed into one of the better power forwards in the league while also leading in the locker room. Still, it was a down year for the rugged forward in 2011-12. Clowe saw his point total go from 62 in 2010-11 to just 45 in 2011-12, as he battled through a number of injuries, including a concussion that was only revealed by the club after the season. The 30-year-old was due to make $4 million in 2012-13, and is an unrestricted free agent next summer. It would be hard to imagine him making that kind of money on a multiple-year deal considering his performance last year, injury history, and fearless warrior mentality – even if he is such an important locker room presence.

Michal Handzus - A lost season would likely mean that veteran center Michal Handzus, set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, has played his last game in the NHL. The Sharks erred when they signed him to a two-year deal in the summer of 2011, as Handzus never found his groove and was benched at the end of the season and in the playoffs, although it was later revealed that he had been battling a hip injury throughout the season. Even if a shortened NHL season begins in mid-January, Handzus may not be in the team’s plans, depending on the progression of James Sheppard in Worcester.

Jason Demers - After he showed such promise in 2010-11, Jason Demers’ development took a step backwards last season. This year, Demers seems to be having a solid season in Finland, where he has five goals and 16 assists for 21 points in 30 games for Karpat in the competitive SM-liiga. He’s still just 24 years old, so Demers could very well rebound and become a solid NHL blueliner going into restricted free agency this summer. But, he’ll need a season to show that last year was just a bump in the road.

Dan Boyle - Forget for a second that Dan Boyle was set to make nearly $7 million this season, after already losing a year of his prime in 2004-05 – preventing him from defending his Stanley Cup championship with Tampa Bay. The 36-year-old knows time is not on his side if he wants to make a run at another championship, which is likely the reason he has been among the more outspoken players throughout the work stoppage. Boyle is signed through 2013-14, but a full no-trade clause last season is now just a limited no-trade clause and Boyle’s name was tossed around in a few trade rumors this summer.

Thomas Greiss - The Sharks like both of their young goaltenders currently playing for Worcester, in 25-year-old Alex Stalock and 22-year-old Harri Sateri. Stalock, in particular, could be NHL-ready in 2013-14 to at least be Antti Niemi’s backup. Thomas Greiss had a decent season in 2011-12, but it was not enough for him to be considered a surefire future starter in the NHL. This season would have been a great opportunity for Greiss to show if he belongs in the league for good, especially if Niemi, who had an inconsistent 2011-12, got off to a slow start. Instead, a lost season could mean the Sharks would move on from Greiss and allow him to leave via unrestricted free agency while promoting Stalock.

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

The Sharks have issued qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Chris Tierney, Marcus Sorensen and Barclay Goodrow, while cutting ties with three players in the system.

Tierney, 22, posted 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 80 games last season, serving primarily as the fourth line center. He has 64 points (24g, 40a) in 202 career games over three NHL seasons, all with the Sharks.

Sorensen posted one goal and three assists in 19 games with the Sharks last season, his first in the NHL. The 25-year-old played in all six playoff games against Edmonton, scoring one goal and one assist.

Goodrow, 24, skated in three games for the Sharks last season with one assist. He has 16 points (4g, 12a) in 77 games over three seasons with the Sharks, although has played in just 17 NHL games since the start of the 2015-16 season.

Forward Nikita Jevpalovs, defenseman Patrick McNally and goalie Mantas Armalis - also known for his career as a male model - were left unqualified and are now unrestricted free agents.

Earlier in the offseason, the Sharks signed pending restricted free agents Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. Donskoi received a two-year deal at a salary cap hit of $1.9 million, while Karlsson was signed to a three-year deal at $2 million annually.

Thornton, Marleau now permitted to speak with other teams

Thornton, Marleau now permitted to speak with other teams

Their futures with the Sharks more uncertain than ever, pending unrestricted free agents Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are now free to take calls from other teams to gauge their potential interest.

Nothing can be signed with a new team before July 1, and there is a ban on discussing terms of any potential deal. Teams have already reached out to Marleau, per TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, while Thornton is also reportedly receiving interest around the league.

While they could still return to the Sharks, it’s new territory for both, as neither Thornton nor Marleau has ever tested the unrestricted free agent waters. Most recently, they agreed to three-year contract extensions with the Sharks on the same day – Jan. 24, 2014 – in what was the final year of their current deals.

Whether they return to the Sharks could depend on the length of the deal. If other teams are willing to offer multiple-year deals to Thornton and Marleau, it makes their return to the Sharks less likely – particularly in Marleau’s case. Earlier in the offseason, NBC Sports California confirmed that Thornton was seeking a three-year deal, while Marleau preferred a deal of at least three years.

General manager Doug Wilson’s top priority this offseason is to re-sign goalie Martin Jones and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long term extensions. Those contracts would likely cost the team a combined $12-14 million, and would begin in the 2018-19 season.

There is an added risk to any team that signs a player over the age of 35, as it would be on the hook for the entire salary cap hit regardless of whether that player is active (unless that player is on long-term injured reserve). 

Thornton turns 38 on Sunday, while Marleau turns 38 on Sep. 15.