A critical couple of weeks for the future of the Sharks franchise are on the horizon, as the club must determine how to shape its roster for next season and beyond.
Here is a rundown of some important dates on the calendar – and how they may affect the Sharks – in a unique offseason that features an addition to the NHL’s family of franchises.
June 18 – Expansion draft protected lists released; Vegas can talk to free agents
General manager Doug Wilson has yet to say whether the Sharks will protect seven skaters, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters and one goalie for the expansion draft. We’ll find out this Sunday, as the league will release the protected lists from all 30 NHL teams.
That date also opens a brief window in which the Golden Knights can speak with pending free agents that are left unprotected. For example, they would be permitted to reach out to the camps of Joe Thornton and/or Patrick Marleau, assuming the Sharks don't protect either one.
June 21 – Golden Knights roster revealed; NHL Awards
Vegas’ selections are due by 7 a.m., and its roster be unveiled at the NHL Awards show later that night in Las Vegas. If the Sharks don’t come to some sort of agreement with them in the days and hours leading up to deadline, the Golden Knights will select one of the players on the Sharks’ roster that is left unprotected.
The Norris Trophy will also be presented that night, with Brent Burns likely to become the first Sharks player to ever be named as the best defenseman in the league.
June 23-24 – NHL Entry Draft
This year’s draft takes place over two days at Chicago’s United Center. The first round begins at 4:00 p.m. on Friday (NBCSN), while rounds two-through-seven are on Saturday morning beginning at 7:00 a.m. (NHL Network).
The Sharks still own their first round pick at 19th overall. They do not have any second, third or fourth round picks, but own one fifth round pick (143), two sixth round picks (159 and 174) and three seventh round picks (205, 212, 214).
June 25 – Free agents permitted to speak with other teams; deadline to qualify restricted free agents
If none of the Sharks current unrestricted free agents are signed by this date, they are allowed to speak with other teams that may be interested in inking them to deals on July 1. At this point, it appears likely that both the Thornton and Marleau camps will wait and see what other offers could be out there before making any decisions.
As for their restricted free agents, the Sharks have a few that are not yet signed that but will surely be qualified in Chris Tierney and Marcus Sorensen. Other notable RFAs likely to be qualified include Mirco Mueller, Tim Heed, Joakim Ryan and Barclay Goodrow.
July 1 – Free agency begins
Typically the most intriguing day of the offseason, unrestricted free agents are free to sign wherever they like beginning at 9 a.m. It will be particularly interesting to Sharks fans if Thornton and/or Marleau are not signed by this date, because if that’s the case they could very well move on to other organizations before the day is over. Other notable UFAs include Micheal Haley and Ryan Carpenter.
This is also the date that the Sharks are allowed to sign goalie Marin Jones and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long-term contract extensions, as they both enter the last year of their current deals in 2017-18. All indications are that the talks with both have gone smoothly so far for two players that are expected to help form the core of the team for the next several seasons.
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The Sharks released their six-game 2017 preseason schedule, featuring a pair of games against the Golden Knights:
Sep. 19: Sharks vs. Anaheim (SAP Center)
Sep. 21: Sharks vs. Vegas (SAP Center)
Sep. 23: Sharks at Arizona (Gila River Arena)
Sep. 28: Sharks at Anaheim (Honda Center)
Sep. 30: Sharks vs. Arizona (SAP Center)
Oct. 1: Sharks @ Vegas (T-Mobile Arena)
The full 82-game regular season schedule will reportedly be released on June 22.