Eight free agents Sharks could target

805230.jpg

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.

Sharks conclude 2017 NHL Draft with five more forwards in the system

Sharks conclude 2017 NHL Draft with five more forwards in the system

CHICAGO – After nabbing a center in the first round on Friday, the Sharks added four more forwards and one defenseman to conclude the second day of the annual NHL Entry Draft on Saturday, held this year at United Center.

The Sharks weren’t explicitly trying to restock their forward cabinet, according to general manager Doug Wilson and scouting director Tim Burke, although the club did make two separate moves in surrendering some later round picks to move up in the fourth round (to take center Scott Reedy) and sixth round (to take left wing Sasha Chmelevski).

First, though, it was defenseman Mario Ferraro in the second round at 49th overall. The offensive defenseman was a player that the Sharks targeted, using the pick they acquired from New Jersey last Friday as part of the trade for Mirco Mueller.

“He’s got a lot of speed, offensive guy, exciting,” Burke said. “Puck-moving type of guy.”

Wilson said: “We’re very pleased with the d-man. He’s a very dynamic, athletic guy, great skater. He was a guy that we moved up a little bit aggressively to get because that round, you could see people going after who they wanted. He is a guy that we identified.”

After moving up from the fifth round to the fourth round last Friday, again because of the Mueller trade, the Sharks jumped up 21 more spots in the fourth round by obtaining the Rangers pick at 102nd overall for the 123rd and 174th selections.

Center Scott Reedy is a player that Burke has high hopes for, projecting the Minnesota native as a “second line right winger [with] high-end potential.” Burke pointed out that Reedy, who is friends with first round pick Josh Norris, occasionally played on the same line with Norris for each of the last two seasons with the U.S. Under-18 team.

“He’s a big, strong forward that can play both positions (center and right wing),” Burke said.

Right wing Jacob McGrew, an Orange, CA native, went to the Sharks in the fifth round despite missing all of his first season in junior with a lower body injury suffered in training camp with Spokane (WHL).

“We knew about him before he went up there,” Burke said. “He’s a California kid. … If he was healthy he probably would have gone earlier.”

The Sharks again moved up to snag Huntington Beach native and center Chmelevski at 185 overall, and made their sixth and final pick in the 212th position by taking left wing Ivan Chekhovich in the seventh round. Both players look to have some offensive skill, based on their numbers and Youtube highlights.

Burke was surprised that both players were around so late.

“I thought they had pretty good years and they kind of slipped in the draft,” he said. “We weighed that versus some other more project-type guys, and we thought they had more offense and finish to their game. They just kept sliding, so we took a chance on them.”

Wilson said: “We moved up for the guys we wanted, and then there were some skilled guys at the end that we were surprised were still there. … We’ll go back and take a look how it all went, but we feel, I think, really good about where we ended up with this.”

Sharks coach DeBoer had 'good relationship' with Kovalchuk

Sharks coach DeBoer had 'good relationship' with Kovalchuk

CHICAGO – Ilya Kovalchuk is still reportedly mulling over a return to the NHL, four years after he surprisingly walked away from a monstrous contract with the New Jersey Devils to play in the KHL.

The Sharks have been linked to Kovalchuk, in large part because of Pete DeBoer, who was Kovalchuk’s most recent head coach. In 2011-12, Kovalchuk was a dangerous scoring winger under DeBoer, helping the Devils reach the Stanley Cup Final.

It was apparently a good working relationship between the player and the coach for the two seasons they were together, DeBoer said on Friday at the NHL Entry Draft at United Center.

“I loved Kovy in New Jersey,” DeBoer said. “We went to a Stanley Cup Final together. He was a huge piece for us there. I really enjoyed coaching him. I haven’t seen him in four or five years now. I’m sure there’s still a lot of game left there.”

DeBoer said he’s had no contact with the 34-year-old Kovalchuk, who would have to be traded by New Jersey before signing a new contract with any other NHL club. Still, it seems like the Sharks’ coach might welcome a reunion with Kovalchuk, who posted 78 points in 60 games with SKA Saint Petersburg last season, and has 816 points (417g, 399a) in 816 career NHL games with Atlanta and New Jersey.

“I had a really good relationship with him. I had a lot of respect for him as a player and a person,” DeBoer said.

* * *

DeBoer seemed as uncertain as everyone else as to whether Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau will return to the Sharks or move on to other clubs as free agents.

But, naturally, it’s on his mind.

“You think about it all the time,” DeBoer said. “They’re obviously important pieces in the history of the franchise, and in our group. I also understand the business side of this, and there’s always tough decisions to make. The way I approach these type of things is I’m going to go to Canada and relax, and Doug [Wilson] is going to make those decisions. I’m sure we’ll have a good group come training camp.”

“We’ve got a really good core group of guys and some tough decisions that have to be made. The one thing Doug and his group has shown over the years is their ability to stay competitive, to find a way even after making tough decisions. I have all the faith in the world in that, and I’m excited about training camp.”

* * *

The Sharks lost David Schlemko in the expansion draft earlier in the week. Vegas then flipped him to the Canadiens for a fifth round pick in 2019.

“I think for David, it’s a great opportunity for him, especially going to Montreal,” DeBoer said. “For us, it’s an opportunity for a young guy to jump in. The one thing we have in the organization is some depth. There’s a lot of guys knocking on the door, and guys hungry to grab that job.”