Stay or Go, Part 1: Sharks forwards

Stay or Go, Part 1: Sharks forwards
May 12, 2014, 1:15 pm
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If the Sharks are to shake up their core, Burns could be the likeliest candidate to get moved.
Kevin Kurz

Sharks captain Joe Thornton scored just one even-strength point in seven postseason games in 2014. (USATSI)

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After another playoff failure, general manager Doug Wilson has some difficult decisions to make regarding the Sharks' current roster, as the club showed once again that it is a very good team in the regular season but not good enough when the postseason rolls around.

So, who will stay and who will go? There’s no question the roster will look a bit different, maybe even very much so, by the time training camp begins in September.

All contract figures courtesy of CapGeek.com.

Part 1 – The forwards

Joe Pavelski
Contract status: 5 years remaining, limited no-trade clause kicks in July 1
2014-15 cap hit: $6 million

Pavelski’s 41-goal season earned him team MVP honors, as well as the annual Fan Favorite award. But, could it be a good time to sell high on Pavelski, who scored most of his goals on Joe Thornton’s wing? It’s doubtful, as Pavelski has a very cap-friendly deal in place for the next five seasons, but stranger things have happened. Perhaps there is a team out there that would offer the moon for a player that turns 30 this summer, because that’s what it would take for Wilson to trade the versatile center/wing.

Chances he returns: 90 percent

[RELATED: Report: Several teams were interested in McLellan]

Marty Havlat
Contract status: 1 year remaining, no-movement clause
2014-15 cap hit: $5 million

The Sharks have never had to buy a player out of a bad contract, something they take pride in, but they’ve also not had a guy as overpaid and underwhelming as Havlat in their recent history. The 33-year-old was scratched from six of seven playoff games, indicating that the coaching staff has lost any shred of trust it may have had in the oft-injured winger. It’s essential for San Jose to cut the cord on Havlat, one way or another. His tenure in San Jose has been a failure.

Chances he returns: 10 percent

Andrew Desjardins
Contract status: 1 year remaining
2014-15 cap hit: $750k

Desjardins again filled the role of fourth line center admirably, and his salary is cap-friendly enough that he's likely to return, but there may be a chance James Sheppard takes over his role on the fourth line. Sheppard proved he can be a good center, but is not a very productive winger. Unlike Sheppard, though, Desjardins has one year left on his deal.

Chances he returns: 80 percent

[RELATED: Change to Sharks core group seems likely]

Patrick Marleau
Contract status: 3 years remaining, no-trade clause
2014-15 cap hit: $6.67 million

If the Sharks truly want to change the fabric of their team, trading either Marleau or Joe Thornton – or both – would be the easiest way to do it. Marleau’s first round performance reflected that of the team and its other core players – he was outstanding early, then nowhere to be found over the final three games. Marleau’s Game 5 performance was particularly baffling. It wouldn’t be easy to replace the all-time franchise scoring leader, and Marleau might not be willing to waive his no-trade clause, but moving the aging forward is something the Sharks may want to seriously consider.

Chances he returns: 85 percent

Raffi Torres
Contract status: 2 years remaining, modified no-trade clause
2014-15 cap hit: $2 million

Returning from major knee surgery was admirable as Torres admitted after the playoffs he was basically playing on one leg in Game 7. He’ll now have all summer to recover, and the Sharks will need him to be an impact player like the guy who energized the team late in 2013 after a trade-deadline move.

Chances he returns: 95 percent

[RELATED: Step-by-step guide to fixing the Sharks]

James Sheppard
Contract status: Pending restricted free agent

Sheppard had a good run as the third line center late in the season, but was exposed against the Kings, something that was all too predictable. He may be a third line center on a lesser NHL team, but not here. The Sharks could very well move on from Sheppard, either by not signing him, or by qualifying him as an RFA and then dealing his rights. Or, they could retain Sheppard as their fourth line center and look to move Andrew Desjardins, as stated above.

Chances he returns: 50 percent

Mike Brown
Contract status: Pending unrestricted free agent

When the Sharks traded for Brown in October, Wilson remarked that he had been in pursuit the agitating winger for some time. Now that he has Brown, he may want to keep him. The 28-year-old shouldn’t command a huge salary, and fills a role that comes in handy against certain teams.

Chances he returns: 50 percent

Joe Thornton
Contract status: 3 years remaining, no-trade clause
2014-15 cap hit: $6.75 million

The Sharks have two options when it comes to Thornton – look to move him and hope he agrees to it, or keep him as the team captain. The notion of taking the 'C' off of Thornton's sweater has been a source of speculation, but just isn’t a probable scenario. It’s a rare enough occurrence as it is, and if the Sharks were to do that for the second time in five years, it would be a huge distraction. Thornton obviously isn’t the only reason the Sharks have failed to advance past the Western Conference finals and have won just one playoff series in the past three years, but after getting just one even-strength point against the Kings (in Game 1), it could be time for new leadership.

Chances he returns: 85 percent

Adam Burish
Contract status: 2 years remaining
2014-15 cap hit: $1.85 million

Burish doesn’t have a no-trade clause (to our knowledge), but the Sharks are handcuffed when it comes to the fourth-liner because of his salary. Burish suffered through a nightmarish 2013-14 season while dealing with multiple injuries, and bad contract aside, there is still something to be said for his popularity and personality in the dressing room.

Chances he returns: 80 percent

Logan Couture
Contract status: 5 years remaining, limited no-trade clause kicks in July 1
2014-15 cap hit: $6 million

Couture struggled in the playoffs going up against Anze Kopitar, but there is no player in the Sharks’ dressing room that hates losing more than the 25-year-old, who has developed into one of the league’s better all-around players. A cap-friendly five-year deal kicks in next season, and Couture may very well be the next captain of the team.

Chances he returns: 99 percent

Tomas Hertl
Contract status: 2 years remaining
2014-15 cap hit: $925k

The player that energized the fan base with his goal-scoring prowess and lovable nature is, like Logan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, among the Sharks’ untouchables. Hertl should continue to improve next season and is one of the team’s main building blocks for the future. The ultimate plan is to make the 20-year-old a center, and if the Sharks decide to move Thornton, look for Hertl to skate in the middle.

Chances he returns: 99 percent

Tommy Wingels
Contract status: Pending restricted free agent

It was a breakthrough year for the 26-year-old, who plays the game with a reckless abandon and is the ultimate team-first guy. Wingels is a coach’s dream player, and not only did he show tremendous improvement this past season, but he’s quietly developing into one of the team’s locker room leaders.

Chances he returns: 95 percent

Tyler Kennedy
Contract status: 1 year remaining
2014-15 cap hit: $2.35 million

One of just a few newcomers last offseason, Kennedy never fit in with coach Todd McLellan’s system and did not play at all in the postseason. It’s possible Kennedy will draw some interest in the trade market this summer, and Wilson would likely listen to offers for the 27-year-old.

Chances he returns: 55 percent

Matt Nieto
Contract status: 2 years remaining
2014-15 cap hit: $759k

You have to wonder what would have happened with Nieto had Raffi Torres not gotten hurt in the preseason, opening a roster spot for the rookie. Nieto still has to bulk up, but the former second round pick showed he has the tools to be a very good if not great NHL player. His exciting career is just beginning.

Chances he returns: 95 percent

Brent Burns
Contract status: 3 years remaining, modified no-trade clause
2014-15 cap hit: $5.76 million

If the Sharks are to shake up their core, Burns could be the likeliest candidate to get moved. Although he can be a beast on some nights with his big body and quick, hard shot, wild man Burns may not fit into Todd McLellan’s structured style. Burns is streaky, too, and wasn’t able to have much of an impact in the Kings series. And, no, don’t expect San Jose to try and convert him back into a defenseman.

Chances he returns: 80 percent