Marleau: Contract rules would hinder GMs


Marleau: Contract rules would hinder GMs

SAN JOSE There are myriad reasons why the NHL and players association havent been able to reach a collective bargaining agreement yet, as the lockout surpassed the two-month mark on Friday.

The latest point of contention that is seemingly keeping the two sides at odds is player contract rights. Since their first proposal back in July, the owners have insisted on a five-year maximum length for all future deals, as well as no more than a five-percent variance on money from year-to-year. Essentially, the leagues owners want to prevent the kind of front loaded, salary cap circumventing deals that have become commonplace for the most sought after free agents (see Parise, Zach; Suter, Ryan).

Despite making progress on economic issues like revenue sharing and paying out the current deals in full, the owners have not moved off of their contract demands since their opening offer. In fact, its been reported that Gary Bettman said, were past the point of give-and-take in the previous bargaining session nearly a week ago. The two sides are set to resume negotiations on Monday, according to multiple reports.

Sharks center Patrick Marleau said on Friday that those contract demands from the league, should they be implemented, would adversely affect the way league general managers do business.
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I think it would be tough for any team to work under those conditions, Marleau said. The salary cap already kind of hindered GMs and what they could do, so you would just be handcuffing them that much more.

That could be true for some teams, but others - likely the majority - would welcome the new rules. And the Sharks are probably at the top of that list.

Its true that some clubs, specifically the big spenders, would have to re-evaluate the way they do business. Only a select few are willing to sign players to decade-long, nine-figure contracts, and it wasnt difficult to figure out which teams would be in play for the best free agent talent each summer. Evening out the playing field with new contracting rules would give many more clubs the opportunity to at least explore adding top-level talent in the open market.

In fact, Marleau plays for a club that may be the absolute best example of why new contracting restrictions might be welcomed.

The Sharks have avoided the kind of deals that the league is trying to outlaw while remaining competitive for many years, making the playoffs for eight straight seasons, including three trips to the Western Conference Finals. There is no Rick DiPietroWade ReddenIlya Bryzgalov contract here, casting a large shadow over the organization's future.

The Sharks have just seven players signed after the 2013-14 season, and four of those will be in the last year of their current deal in 2014-15 (Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Adam Burish are the only players signed after that). A logical case can be made that San Jose is one of the teams pushing for more restrictive contracting rules in order to be more competitive in the free agent market, although an NHL gag order prohibits the team from discussing anything related to the lockout.

Already known as one of the more desirable destinations in the league, the Sharks could become much more active players in free agency than they have been in recent years.

Marleau, incidentally, has two years remaining on his contract with the Sharks that would have paid him 6.9 million this season, making him the second highest paid player on the team. He stated a couple weeks ago that he was exploring options in Europe, but gave the impression on Friday that hes not close to committing to anything overseas at the moment.

Dan Boyle told on Friday that he was concerned about the damage the lockout might have on the sport that has treated him so well over the years.

Marleau, too, is worried that there may be fan backlash whenever the lockout ends. In fact, it may have happened already.

Yeah, definitely. I think theres already been damage and youre going to lose fans, he said. From where we were at, weve taken steps backwards. I think the game was going this way, up and up and up, and where it goes from heretheres going to be a lot of things that need fixing once we do get back to playing.

Joe Pavelski is currently on KHL Minsks injury report, but it doesnt appear to be anything too severe.

In a text message to, Pavelskis agent said his client banged up his knee a bit, but its nothing serious.

In seven games with Minsk, Pavelski has just one assist, six penalty minutes and is a minus-4.

The San Francisco Bulls are down to a single NHL player, and he still has no plans to suit up for the first-year ECHL club.

Defenseman Theo Peckham requested his release from the Bulls this week, as originally reported by CHEDs Dan Tencer, after going scoreless in four games with 11 penalty minutes. Peckham is in the last year of his deal with the Edmonton Oilers and will be a restricted free agent next summer.

Sharks forward Ryane Clowe continues to practice with the Bulls, but its unlikely hell play in a game at this point.

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic will compete in the upcoming IIHF World Championships for Team Canada, it was announced on Friday.

The tournament runs from May 5-21 in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany. 

Vlasic, 30, a native of Montreal, has played in the tournament twice before in 2009 and 2012. He also represented Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games, helping it to a gold medal, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which Canada also captured.

In 75 games with the Sharks this season, Vlasic posted 28 points (6g, 22a) and a +4 rating. He was second on the team in shorthanded time on ice (2:04 per game) and blocked shots (146).

A pending restricted free agent in 2018, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson called getting Vlasic signed to a long-term deal an offseason priority for the club. The two sides can begin negotiations on July 1.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” Wilson said. “[He] is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

The Sharks lost in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to Edmonton, although Vlasic and partner Justin Braun helped to keep Connor McDavid in check at even strength. The league's leading scorer had just one even strength point in the six-game series, an empty net goal with less than one second left in Game 6.

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

SAN JOSE – The Sharks didn’t make any blockbuster moves last summer, content to make another run in 2016-17 with largely the same group that came within two wins of capturing the Stanley Cup.

They still acquired a notable player, though, when Mikkel Boedker was signed on July 1 to add an element that the Sharks knew they needed more of moving forward – speed. Boedker was expected to make the team faster, after the Sharks were exposed for not having enough of that against Pittsburgh in the NHL’s final round, as well as play in a top six role. 

At the time, it was hailed as a slick, under-the-radar move that wasn’t going to change the dynamic of the club but could help push it over the top.

When Boedker was a healthy scratch in games three and four of the first round against Edmonton, the evidence became clear, though, that this was a decision that fell flat on its face. 

Frankly, Boedker – who is signed for three more years with a $4 million salary cap hit – brings back visions of Sharks bust Marty Havlat. You know the skill is there, but the desire to use it on a nightly basis while showing any semblance of a battle level is lacking. 

Should the Sharks give Boedker another chance next season, or should they do everything in their power to try and move him? That’s a question that will likely be debated in the front office over the next several weeks.

On get-away day on Monday, indications were that the Sharks were planning on sticking with the 27-year-old, who finished with 26 points in the regular season (10g, 16a) and added one goal and one assist in four games in the playoffs.

“He has the things we’re looking for: his career scoring average, his speed, [penalty killing] ability,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “Did he meet the expectations that he had for himself [or] that we had for him? No. Can we get that out of him? Pete [DeBoer] believes we can.”

DeBoer has known Boedker since he played for him in 2007-08 in Kitchener (OHL). Despite scratching him in the playoffs, DeBoer said he saw “huge improvement” in Boedker throughout the course of the season after the forward spent nearly all of his NHL career in Arizona.

“There was an adjustment. He’s played 6-7 years a certain way in the NHL,” DeBoer said. “We’ve asked him to play differently here, and there was an adjustment.”

Boedker still believes that he can be a fit in San Jose.

“I think it will be and it can be,” he said. “It’s learning period, but you’ve also got to look in the mirror yourself and see what you can change and what assets you need to bring. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m ready to do that.”

The list of Sharks depth forwads that had frustrating seasons hardly begins and ends with Boedker, though.

Veteran Joel Ward’s production dipped from 43 points last season to 29 in 2016-17, although that probably isn’t too surprising considering he’s 36. Tomas Hertl is proving to be a streaky player, too, although his season was interrupted by another a knee injury.

The bigger disappointment came from players like Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, who both made big impressions in the 2016 playoffs but struggled to produce consistent offense this year. Both were mentioned by name by DeBoer on Monday.

There are some promising youngsters in the pipeline like Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen, but it’s still too early to project any of them as can’t-miss scorers at the NHL level.

“I think we’ve got a large group of guys that I like, but need to step up,” DeBoer said. “Is Sorensen [like] Donskoi next year, where he takes a step back, or [does he take a] step forward? We’ve got a lot of guys that there’s a lot of potential there – Chris Tierney. 

“There’s a lot of those guys, but they need to have big summers and take a step, and show that they’re not just one season or one month players.”