Niemi to Finland; Stuart's no-trade clause

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Niemi to Finland; Stuart's no-trade clause

Antti Niemi became the ninth Sharks player to sign with a team overseas on Friday, when he agreed to a one-month contract to play for Pelicans Lahti in his home country of Finland (according to the team website, via ProHockeyTalk.com).

Niemi told CSNCalifornia.com on Thursday that he was in discussions with several teams abroad, and apparently decided on one some time between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

Other Sharks players on the other side of the world include Joe Thornton and Logan Couture (Switzerland); Jason Demers and Tommy Wingels (Finland); Joe Pavelski (Belarus); Douglas Murray (Sweden); Michal Handzus (Slovakia) and TJ Galiardi (Germany).

Stuart has a no-trade clause

When Brad Stuart signed a three-year contract for 3.6 million annually with the Sharks this summer, it was generally viewed as him taking a bit of a hometown discount, as he had just completed a four-year deal with Detroit for an annual salary of 3.75 million. Theres little doubt that Stuart could have gotten much, much more as an unrestricted free agent.

RELATED: Stuart ready for his return to Sharks

One reason he came so cheaply, other than a chance to spend more time with his family, is that Stuart has a full no-trade clause in the first year of his deal, and a very limited no-trade clause in years two and three. In the final two years, if the Sharks requested, Stuart would be able to list just seven teams to which he would accept a trade.

Still, after seeing some of the salaries that were dished out for solid (and even marginal) defensemen this summer, the Sharks have to be ecstatic with Stuarts price tag for the next three seasons.

Surprise talks between the NHL, NHLPA on Friday

In yet another episode of at least theyre talking, the NHLs Gary Bettman and Bill Daly met with the NHLPAs Donald and Steve Fehr in Toronto, reportedly for two-and-a-half hours.

RELATED: NHL cancels first two weeks of games

Daly told CSNPhilly.coms Tim Panaccio the meetings were a "general discussion of where we were and how to try to move process forward from here. We talked about possibly scheduling some meetings for next week, but mostly to deal with the other issues. Will touch base with the union over the weekend."

The NHL on Thursday canceled all games through Oct. 24, although a full, 82-game schedule could still be possible in the unlikely event of a quick agreement.

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.