After being swept by the Chicago Blackhawks, I couldn’t help but wonder: did it mark the “end of an era” for the San Jose Sharks? To say that they have a confusing salary cap situation is putting it lightly. Two of the longest-standing faces of the franchise (Patrick Marleau and Evgeni Nabokov) are unrestricted free agents this season. Let’s not forget captain Rob Blake (UFA), playoff hero Joe Pavelski and productive sniper Devin Setoguchi (both restricted free agents).
I’m going to go more in-depth with each of those free agents in separate posts (one for restricted, one for unrestricted) later today, but for now I thought I’d cover their “big picture” salary cap situation. Here’s their 2010-11 Salary Cap Commitments as of this moment, according to numbers from CapGeek.com.
2010-11 San Jose Sharks Salary Cap Commitments (some figures rounded up)
Forwards (6 out of 12): Heatley ($7.5 million), Thornton (7.2), Clowe (3.63), Mitchell (1.37), Couture (1.24), McGinn (997k)
Defense (5 out of 6): Boyle (6.67), Vlasic (3.1), Murray (2.5), Huskins (1.7), Demers (543k)
Goalies (1 out of 2): Greiss (550k)
2010-11 Salary Cap Commitments: $36.99 million
If Cap remains the same, Cap Space: $20.525 million
Big free agents: Marleau, Nabokov, Blake, Pavelski, Setoguchi
Twenty-and-half million sounds like a big chunk of cap space, but the Sharks are without their defensive captain, three top-six forwards and their franchise goalie. Nabokov and Marleau alone cost the team almost $11.5 million cap hit-wise in the 2009-10 season. Again, we’ll get into those free agents in later posts.
Let’s look at players under the cap at this moment in time after the jump.
San Jose’s big contracts
It’s funny that Joe Thornton received so much heat for his playoff performance while Dany Heatley was nearly invisible. Whatever way you slice it, Heatley and Thornton combine for about $14.6 million in cap space. That’s a big chunk of change for players who did indeed struggle when it mattered the most.
Despite that ugly own-goal against the Avalanche, Dan Boyle was excellent in the playoffs. Still, Boyle is no spring chicken so you have to wonder if his satanic (6.66 and so on) cap hit will bedevil the Sharks in the future. Even Ryane Clowe’s deal is a little steep, although he brings a nice mixture of grit and skills to the table.
The team’s best contract is Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s $3.1 million cap hit. Vlasic plays big minutes and is a steady – if not spectacular – presence on their blueline.
Overall, the team is straddled with a few big deals and not many lasting bargains. It’s doubtful that they can bring back all of their high-end free agents and it’s plausible that one of their existing big guns may be traded. Regardless of the $20.5 million of space, the Sharks won’t be the same next year. What would you do if you were GM Doug Wilson … or whoever has the job once the organization sorts through the debris?
But the chance for at least a single point slipped at the worst possible time, as Jonathan Toews scored with 1:18 left in regulation and then set up an empty net goal from Marian Hossa just a few seconds later to secure the 4-2 win.
The Canucks remain stuck at five wins — just five wins — on the road. They have the 29th-ranked road record in the entire NHL. Only the Arizona Coyotes have been worse away from home ice. So, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed down the stretch.
Vancouver had a chance to move into a wild card spot. Instead, they let the Blackhawks regain momentum as the period went on, and as a result, they remain on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture for right now.
Corey Crawford earned his 200th career win, making 26 saves. That’s a milestone night for him. For Toews, that’s his most productive night of the season, as he factored into all four Chicago goals, which, of course, included the winner.
So overtime against the New York Islanders seemed like a perfect time for captain Claude Giroux to bust his scoring slump.
Without a goal in his last 12 games, or since Dec. 21 before the holiday break, Giroux finished the Flyers comeback with an overtime goal to give Philly a 3-2 victory on Sunday. Jakub Voracek did great work along the boards to force a turnover from John Tavares, and Shayne Gostisbehere followed up his chance with a quick pass to a wide-open Giroux at the top of the crease.
That comeback win — Philly trailed by two goals early in the second period — bumps the Flyers back into a wild card spot.
Steve Mason had a big game in net for Philly, with 36 saves, while the Flyers fired 47 shots on goal toward Thomas Greiss, although it’s a difficult task trying to re-set and stop Giroux — an accomplished scorer in the NHL — on the doorstep.
Goals, goals and more goals! Blue Jackets outlast Senators for overtime win
Plenty of goals. A little three-on-three overtime. Seemed like an enjoyable afternoon of hockey between the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Well, maybe the goalies, Mike Condon and Joonas Korpisalo, didn’t enjoy it as much.
The Blue Jackets prevailed for a 7-6 overtime win, with Cam Atkinson scoring just 1:09 into the extra period. That’s his 23rd goal of the season. Only two players — Jeff Carter (24) and Sidney Crosby (28) — have scored more goals than Atkinson this season.
With the win, and the Capitals sitting idle today, the Blue Jackets move back into a tie with Washington at 68 points in the fight for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
There were some anxious moments for Columbus.
Rookie defenseman Zach Werenski was hurt blocking a shot in the third period. He briefly left the game, unable to put any pressure on his right leg as he was helped off.
The good news: He only missed a few minutes, returning late in regulation and for the overtime as well, which is important for the Blue Jackets.
#CBJ Zach Werenski said on @FOXSportsOH post-game he "thought it was broken" and "long term" injury when he blocked the shot.
“He’s made a couple of huge mistakes in a game and he comes to the bench, shakes it off and then goes out and makes a great play. For a 19-year-old playing that position and the amount of time he’s getting in key situations with this organization, it’s pretty impressive.”