Eight free agents Sharks could target

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Eight free agents Sharks could target

The NHLs version of Christmas morning is right around the corner.

On Sunday, July 1, virtually every NHL club will begin its attempt to present the biggest gift to its fan base in the form of a prized free agent acquisition. Here is a look at eight potential unrestricted free agents, in no particular order, that might garner some interest from the San Jose Sharks and that realistically could end up with the team (sorry, but I just don't see Zach Parise in teal).

Did we miss any? Who would you like to see in a Sharks uniform, and whom are you not interested in? Let us know in the comments section below.

REALTED: Sharks' free agent frenzy

Ryan Suter (D) The undisputed top free agent defenseman out there, its already been reported that Suters preference is to remain in the Western Conference. At 27 years of age and in the prime of his career, hes not going to come cheap, and could demand somewhere around 7 million a year for the next 10 seasons. The Sharks and Doug Wilson have stayed away from contracts of such magnitude in the past, but would they make an exception for Suter? If they did, it would almost certainly spell the end of Dan Boyles career in a Sharks uniform, but the blue line would be upgraded as a whole for years to come.

Kurz says: A top-four defense of Ryan Suter, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Brad Stuart would be one of the best in the NHL. Making a hard push for Suter makes sense, especially because the rival Red Wings are going to do the same.

Alex Semin (RW) The Washington winger, a one-time 40-goal scorer in 2009-10, is coming off of back-to-back 54-point seasons. While his talent has never been in question, his motivation and work ethic has been described as less than stellar. Semins recent playoff numbers also leave a lot to be desired, as he has just 12 points in his last 30 playoff games. Still, he can put up big offensive numbers.

Kurz says: Id stay away from the 28-year-old. Although he might provide some much-needed scoring depth, the team already has enough players that seem to suffer through lengthy scoring droughts and can become invisible for weeks at a time (see Havlat, Marty and Marleau, Patrick).

RELATED: Semin, Wideman headed to free agency

Paul Gaustad (C) Another Nashville free-agent-to-be, Paul Gaustad had 21 points and 76 penalty minutes in 70 games with the Sabres and Predators last season. One stat that is sure to make the Sharks at least somewhat intrigued is that the rugged, defensively responsible center had a 57.3 percent faceoff percentage last season. Gaustad would likely command between 2-3 million per season.

Kurz says: The 30-year-old Gaustad would be a huge upgrade over Michal Handzus as the third line center. Hes certainly worth a phone call.

Matt Carle (D) A week ago, it seemed a near certainty that Carle was going to re-sign with Philadelphia, which was unable to ink him to a deal before July 1 due to salary cap restrictions. But after Dennis Widemans monster deal in Calgary, Carle appears set to test the open waters. Carle isnt flashy, but hes solid in his own end and can provide some offensive punch on the power play as evidenced by his four goals and 34 assists in 82 games last season. Carle, of course, was originally drafted by the Sharks and spent his first three seasons here. Its a good bet he still has some fans within the organization.

Kurz says: The 27-year-old Carle is another option if the Sharks want to try and move on from the veteran Boyle (whom they could use as trade bait for a scoring winger, and who Carle was traded for in 2008). Carle is not as skilled as Suter, but he is undoubtedly a top-four defenseman in the NHL and should have several excellent years ahead of him.

Daniel Winnik (LW) Winnik, 27, may be the only Sharks free-agent-to-be that the club is trying to re-sign, and with good reason. Winnik brought good energy and even a few timely goals to the bottom two lines during his short tenure with San Jose after a trade with Colorado, and has thrived in an aggressive penalty-killing scheme before, which is what the Sharks are expected to employ next season. While Winnik may want to see what else is out there, he seemed to enjoy playing in San Jose and would probably welcome a return if both sides truly want to get a deal done.

Kurz says: As long as the club can keep Winnik in the 1-1.5 million range, it would seem to make sense to try and bring him back. If another team wants to pay him more than that, the Sharks should let him walk.

RELATED: Previewing Sharks' free agent frenzy

Arron Asham (RW) The 34-year-old Asham is the kind of player that you have to be aware of if youre an opponent. He doesnt have the most skill, but has managed to top 20 points in a season in six times through hard work and a sneaky good shot. More than that, though, is that Asham is a hard working role player that will drop the gloves in defense of a teammate any time, any place.

Kurz says: The most important thing in having a team is having each others back and being there for each other, Doug Wilson said on June 18. Asham has made a career out of doing just that, and could be an ideal fit if hes willing to play on the West Coast.
Lee Stempniak (RW) When I posed the question of free agents on Twitter Stempniak's name came up a few times, and upon closer inspection the 29-year-old could be a good fit for the Sharks. Although hes generally been a streaky scorer, Stempniak would be an obvious upgrade as a third line winger over Torrey Mitchell. He has 66 points in 132 games, and can also help to kill penalties.

Kurz says: Stempniak would be worth exploring as long as he isnt looking for a deal for more than three years.

Ray Whitney (LW) The veteran Whitney, now 40, is coming off of an impressive season that saw him record nearly a point-per-game (24g, 53a in 82 games). The one-time Shark would add some scoring punch to the lineup, provided his advancing age doesnt catch up to him, and is probably looking for a team thats built to win now. Although Shane Doan is the most prominent free agent from Phoenix, I dont see him ending up with San Jose. Whitney, though, just might.

Kurz says: Although Whitneys year was impressive and his veteran leadership would be welcomed in the Sharks locker room, he wasnt as effective in the playoffs. Unless the team cant find anyone younger, Id look another direction. If its still the middle of July and the Sharks havent upgraded their scoring depth, Whitney could be a good option.

Couture's father: Sharks center dealing with 'ugly injury' after puck to mouth

Couture's father: Sharks center dealing with 'ugly injury' after puck to mouth

After requiring a visit to a local hospital in Nashville due to being struck in the face with a deflected puck on Saturday night against the Predators, Logan Couture was able to fly back with the team to San Jose on Sunday morning.

The severity of his injury is still unknown, although his father, Chet, said on Twitter that it was “an ugly injury sadly.”

Another source close to the situation told CSN the injury is “brutal.”

Couture, who lost several teeth, visited with Sharks medical personnel on Sunday and a further update is expected on Monday. 

Perhaps the best-case scenario is that the injury looks a lot worse than it actually is, such as when Marc-Edouard Vlasic was sidelined for one week when he took a puck to the face from the stick Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere in late December.

Losing Couture for any period of time would be a difficult blow to the Sharks, who have lost their last six in regulation, including Saturday’s 7-2 defeat to the Predators. Couture is third on the team in scoring with 52 points, and has a team-leading 11 power play goals. He entered Saturday’s game with four goals and five assists in his last 10 games, and has arguably been the team’s best player since mid-January.

"You can't replace him, so it would be really tough,” Patrick Marleau said after the game Saturday. “But if that is the case, then guys are going to have to pull up the slack. Definitely we hope he's back sooner.”

Couture was set up just outside the crease in the third period when a Brent Burns point shot late in the second period hit a stick before squarely smacking into the 27-year-old’s mouth. He quickly skated to the dressing room under his own power with just 14 seconds before the intermission.

The Sharks have seven games remaining in the regular season, hosting the Rangers on Tuesday and visiting Edmonton and Calgary later this week. They are tied in points (91) with Anaheim and Edmonton in the Pacific Division.

Three takeaways: Sharks having trouble explaining meltdown

Three takeaways: Sharks having trouble explaining meltdown

NASHVILLE – The Sharks are returning to San Jose on Sunday in a crisis. Nothing good came from Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Nashville, their sixth straight in regulation. Let’s get to the painful three takeaways…

1 – No answers

Neither Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns nor Patrick Marleau – the three players made available to the media after Saturday’s game – offered any kind of in-depth analysis of what’s going wrong. Frankly, I’m not sure anyone really knows. It’s hard to believe that this is the same club that had lost just two games in regulation in its previous 14 before the losing streak began.

“If you’re putting a consistent effort in, battling, competing – it’s tough to lose six in a row,” Pavelski said. “You look at six in a row, and it just seems daunting. Like, how do you get there? So, I think we’ve just got to take a deep breath, really kind of refocus.”

Believe it or not, coach Pete DeBoer thought Saturday’s loss was “a step in the right direction” when asked why Friday night’s 6-1 beat down in Dallas wasn’t enough of a wake-up call. How often do you hear that after a five-goal defeat?

“I liked our game tonight better than I liked [Friday’s game] regardless of the score,” DeBoer said. “I don’t just look at the score. If you want to just judge it on the score than you might not say it’s a wake-up call, but I thought we were much more competitive tonight. 

“It was a step in the right direction. Every team goes through tough parts of the season, and this is ours. We’ve got a lot of character in the room. We’ll get through it.”

2 – Couture injury would spell doom, as Hertl still MIA

Let’s face it – if Logan Couture is out for any extended period of time, this team is DOA once the playoffs begin. Couture has been the Sharks’ best player since the All-Star break, and they don’t have anyone on the current roster or in the system that could replace him. As of Sunday morning, there was still no word as to the severity of his injury after taking a puck to the mouth and going to a local Nashville hospital.

If Couture were to miss time, Tomas Hertl would likely become the team’s second line center. Lately, though, Hertl doesn’t even resemble an effective third line center. He was victimized on Nashville’s first goal, which was similar to one of the Wild goals on Tuesday, when he was just too slow and not strong enough on his skates in getting outworked for a loose puck. He is scoreless in his last 12 games.

3 – Haley shows some emotion that others lack

It’s understandable that Micheal Haley didn’t like getting hit from behind by Calle Jarnkrok in the third period. But, you can’t just make a beeline for a guy and punch him in the face. Haley will almost certainly get suspended for the play.

At least, though, Haley showed a little bit of emotion in the game, including his first period fight with Cody McLeod. Perhaps guys like Hertl, Joonas Donskoi and Mikkel Boedker could take a lesson from the fiery Haley. Those three, in particular, have been virtually useless during this six-game stretch. 

If I’m DeBoer, I’d get on the phone with Doug Wilson and Roy Sommer and ask for a few guys from the Barracuda so I could – depending on the team’s health situation – scratch all three of them for Tuesday against the Rangers, or at least remove Boedker and Donskoi and put Hertl back on the wing. Drastic times call for drastic measures, do they not?