Sharks 'probably not' in the market for top free agents

Sharks 'probably not' in the market for top free agents
May 22, 2014, 6:45 pm
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Todd McLellan and the Sharks blew a 3-0 series lead to the Kings in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (AP)

SAN FRANCISCO – Under general manager Doug Wilson, the Sharks have never been all that active when it comes to the unrestricted free agent market. For better or worse, Wilson has been reluctant to offer big money, long term deals to high profile players that become available to sign where they choose.

Could that change after San Jose’s miserable first round collapse against Los Angeles, during an offseason in which Wilson has suggested significant change?

Not likely, according to Wilson, who doubled down on his message of giving the Sharks’ younger players a chance for greater responsibility in 2014-15 during an in-studio appearance Thursday on Yahoo! Sports Talk Live.

“We will look. We’ll explore everything. But, when you’re turning the team over to a younger core, you’ve got to be careful who you bring in from the outside that ends up superseding them. We’re giving them the opportunity. Here’s your team," Wilson said.

“It doesn’t mean we won’t add people, whether it be trades or potential free agency going forward, but if you asked me right now, I would say probably not.”

That doesn't mean the Sharks won't spend towards the upper limit of salary cap again, though, which has been projected to be approximately $71 million for the 2014-15 season. That's an increase from the $64.3 limit in 2013-14.

“Money is not going to be an issue,” Wilson said.

The general manager’s ornery tone has been palpable since the team blew a 3-0 series lead against the Kings more than three weeks ago, and was still evident on the Comcast SportsNet set.

“What we want to do is turn this over to people that are going to come and play. We don’t care what your age is, there is – I’m saying this with all due respect – there’s no equity in anybody that’s been here. With our performance of what we just went through, this is where we’re at.

“You want to come in take the net as a goalie? Take the net. You want to be a young defenseman and grab it? Take it. … This is a great opportunity for people to come in and play the way that the coaches need them to play.”

Wilson has already revealed that veteran defenseman Dan Boyle, who carried a $6.67 million cap hit, and forward Marty Havlat ($5 million cap hit) will not be back next season. Boyle will be an unrestricted free agent, while the ineffective Havlat will likely be an amnesty buyout.

Taking those two off of the roster, the Sharks have approximately $55.8 million committed to 16 players, according to CapGeek.com. More moves are surely coming, and there is speculation that captain Joe Thornton and/or forward Patrick Marleau, who both signed three-year contract extensions in January, could depart.

Among the Sharks pending free agents are goalie Alex Stalock, defensemen Jason Demers and Scott Hannan, and forwards Tommy Wingels, James Sheppard and Mike Brown. Brown, Hannan and Stalock are unrestricted, while Demers, Wingels and Sheppard are restricted.

The unrestricted free agent market is not particularly deep, but there are some quality players that will be up for bids. Forwards Thomas Vanek, Jarome Iginla, Matt Moulson, Paul Stastny and Ryan Callahan; defensemen Matt Niskanen and Andrei Markov; and goaltenders Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller are all pending UFAs, among others.