PHILADELPHIA -– It’s official. The San Jose Sharks, at some point before the June 30 deadline, will buy out forward Marty Havlat according to an NHL source close to the situation.
Havlat, who spent three middling seasons with the Sharks while battling through several injuries, is the only player that will be bought out by San Jose.
Havlat’s departure frees up $5 million in salary cap space for the Sharks.
The 33-year-old forward, who was due $6 million in salary in 2014-15, will receive $2 million in each of the next two years, per the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson revealed more than a month ago that Havlat would not be a part of the team’s roster next season, so the news is not unexpected.
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Add the Dallas Stars to the list of teams that would be interested in Sharks captain Joe Thornton, should be become available.
According to an NHL source, Dallas has approached San Jose about acquiring the 34-year-old center. The Stars could use help at the position behind budding superstar Tyler Seguin, while Wilson has clearly indicated he will be turning his team over to the younger core players on the ice and in the dressing room.
The interest from Dallas is meaningless, of course, if Thornton does not want to waive his no-trade clause. His agent and brother, John Thornton, indicated again on Friday that his client would like to remain in San Jose.
Earlier this week in Las Vegas at the NHL Awards, Patrick Marleau -– himself the subject of trade speculation despite the existence of a full no-trade clause –- said that both he and Thornton expect to return to the Sharks for the 2014-15 season “as of right now.”
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The Sharks are in negotiations with pending restricted free agents Tommy Wingels, Jason Demers and James Sheppard. Wilson termed the discussions as “ongoing.”
“They’ve been healthy, good discussions,” said the general manager.
According to one source, though, the Sharks are not at all close on a new deal with Wingels, who had a breakthrough season in 2013-14 with 16 goals and 22 assists in 77 games. The 26-year-old led the team in hits with 218.
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The Sharks lost a member of their front office on Thursday when John Ferguson, Jr. left to join the Boston Bruins as their executive director of player personnel.
Wilson said that Ferguson, the former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs who then spent six seasons in San Jose as the director of pro scouting, had the green light to speak with other clubs for the past several years.
Larry Robinson’s moving into a new role as director of player development, and the addition of scout Niklas Sundstrom to cover Europe, was based in part on Ferguson leaving.
“It starts with Larry Robinson, the evolution of his role. … We knew this was going to take place at some point,” Wilson said. “It’s something that’s very good for Fergie, and I think it gives a lot of our other guys the opportunity to step up, with Larry really having a major input in that area.”
Current scout Bryan Marchment will also get an expanded role, according to Wilson.
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Some NHL general managers have remarked that there’s lots of chatter in terms of player movement leading up to this weekend’s draft.
What’s Wilson’s take?
“I don’t know how much of it is going to take place. The [unrestricted free agent] market, people can say it’s not that strong a market, so I think that has probably steered people more towards discussions. There seems to be a healthy buzz.”