Pavelski, Wilson on realignment issue

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Pavelski, Wilson on realignment issue

SAN JOSE Sharks forward Joe Pavelski, the teams NHLPA player representative, spoke on Saturday morning about the unions decision not to accept the NHLs realignment plan that was approved by the NHL's Board of Governors on Dec. 5.

That doesnt mean the plan is dead in the water, though.

There are definitely certain parts that are positives that will happen, I would assume, in the future, obviously, with Atlanta going to Winnipeg, Pavelski said. Something will probably still happen in the future, but for right now some details still have to be worked out.

In a statement released by the NHLPA, union head Donald Fehr wrote:

Two substantial Player concerns emerged: (1) whether the new structure would result in increased and more onerous travel; and (2) the disparity in chances of making the playoffs between the smaller and larger divisions.

The Sharks would have been in one of two eight-team conferences, while the other conferences had seven teams apiece. The top four teams in each conference would make the postseason.

I think playoffs was big. Thats why we play the game. Its one of those things where you want to play in the playoffs. Theres definitely an advantage from four to seven than four to eight, Pavelski said.

Many view the unions decision to reject the plan as the first bargaining chip for the NHLPA in what could be a labor battle in the coming months, as the collective bargaining agreement is set to expire on Sep. 15, 2012. If thats the case, Pavelski wasnt letting on.

I think its just a situation. Something that happened that was talked about. I dont think theres any other messages besides that, just something that didnt work this time, he said.

When the vote was taken in December, 26 NHL teams voted in favor of the plan to realign the 30-team league into four conferences and have each team play each other at least twice. The Sharks, who were set to play in a division with Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, Colorado, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary, were one of them.

General manager Doug Wilson said: We supported it. Obviously, when we talked about it, it was something I thought would be great for the fans. We voiced our opinion on what we thought would be best for our organization.

Well see where it goes. We voted on our position, and we did what we think would be great for our fans and great for the game. Once we presented that, it goes into different hands and gets dealt with at a different area in the process.

Dan Boyle, who endured the NHLs lost season of 2004-05, didnt seem too concerned about the realignment issue.

I just want to make sure we play hockey next year, Boyle said. First and foremost, thats the most important thing. Realignment is secondary to that.

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.