Now that the first day of NHL free agency has come and gone, the next two-and-a-half months or so tend to be fairly dormant in terms of headline-making NHL news. Sure, there are a few big name free agents still out there, and blockbuster trades are always a possibility, but most of the moving and shaking regarding league rosters is over with.
That doesn’t mean Sharks general manager Doug Wilson can suddenly find a private beach and kick back with a margarita in each hand, however. Although the Sharks’ roster could be very well set, considering Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau’s apparent plans to return for the start of the 2014-15 season, he still likely has some items on the agenda in the next 10 weeks before the start of training camp.
[RELATED: Sharks expectedly quiet as free agency opens]
Here are a few things to keep in mind before we settle in for the dog days of the the offseason:
- It’s become obvious that Thornton would like to return to San Jose, despite Wilson’s plan of turning the team over to the younger players, and Todd McLellan’s suggestion last weekend at the NHL draft that the Sharks may take the captain’s C off of Thornton’s sweater if he remains.
If Thornton has a change of heart, though, it’s hard to envision where he might go now. Three of the teams that would have made the most sense for the now 35-year-old all upgraded in other ways, with Anaheim acquiring Ryan Kesler, Chicago signing Brad Richards, and Dallas, which called the Sharks on Thornton in the days leading up to the draft, traded for Ottawa’s Jason Spezza.
Could the New York Rangers be a fit, though? Thornton is a good friend of Rick Nash after they were teammates abroad in the 2004-05 lockout, and Dan Boyle just inked a two-year deal there, too. The Rangers are in need of a center, and after their trip to the Stanley Cup Final, could be looking for that final piece. They also have some flexibility, after buying out Richards. The biggest problem with that potential scenario, though, is that the Rangers already traded away their 2015 first round draft pick to Tampa Bay in the Ryan Callahan deal.
- The Sharks can now open contract extension negotiations with defenseman Justin Braun, and it’s very likely they would like to get the 27-year-old locked up for the foreseeable future. Braun has one year remaining on his contract at $1.25 million, and would be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Braun’s agent, Neil Sheehy, told CSNBayArea.com via email that he expects to speak with the Sharks “sometime soon” about his client.
There’s no question Braun is a part of the Sharks’ young core moving forward after his breakthrough season in 2013-14. Although he struggled late in the first round playoff series against Los Angeles, getting him to agree to a multiple-year deal would be a good investment.
- On a conference call on Tuesday, as reported here earlier, Wilson did not rule out bringing defenseman Scott Hannan back to San Jose. The 35-year-old would be more of an insurance policy than anything else, as the younger players will get a chance to show they belong in the NHL.
What could the top six look like on opening night? The Sharks are pretty well set with Brent Burns, Jason Demers and Braun on the right side, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Matt Irwin and perhaps 2013 first round pick Mirco Mueller are the lefties.
If any of Mueller, Matt Tennyson or Taylor Doherty proves he can play at the NHL level, Hannan could always be moved during the season.
- Finally, it looks like the Sharks are getting Ice Girls…er, make that Ice Team (tryouts for the men are still TBD).
Thoughts? Feel free to add them in the comments section below.