In the last post, I took a “big picture” look at the San Jose Sharks salary cap situation. The team has enough interesting free agent situations that I feel like their most noteworthy unrestricted free agents and restricted free agents deserve devoted posts. Now, keep in mind, this isn’t based on “insider” tips but rather a look at each scenario.
First, here’s the full list of unrestricted free agents for the Sharks.
Let’s take a look at the big three. It’s worth noting that the team may really want to bring back Scott Nichol and Manny Malhotra, as well. After the jump, I’ll break down the situations for Marleau, Nabokov and Blake
2009-10 season stats: 44 goals, 39 assists for 83 points
2009-10 playoff stats: 8 goals, 5 assists for 13 points
Two years removed from an abysmal 48 point season, Marleau put together one of his best years. He hit a career-high 44 goals skating often with Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley. He was also, by far, the best source of offense for the Sharks against Chicago. He scored five goals and one assist in the series, meaning that he factored into all but one goal in the sweep.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the team stripped Marleau of the captaincy last summer. There also must be a great market for a high-scoring, swift skating and versatile forward like Marleau. My guess is that another team – maybe the Kings? – could price the Sharks out. They’ll have to hope for a hometown discount from Marleau, which is less likely after that “give us back the C” thing.
It seems like a coin flip to me, but if I had to guess right now, I’d say he might be back.
2009-10 season stats: 44-16-11, 2.43 GAA, 92.2 save pct.
2009-10 playoff stats: 8-5-2, 2.52 GAA, 90.7 save pct.
I have to admit that last year’s playoffs against the Ducks changed my view on Nabokov. It tempered his successes (like his great regular season) and made his struggles (such as an ugly game in the Olympics against Team Canada) seem less surprising. Still, the Sharks depended on Nabby a lot this season, playing him in 71 games.
Many guess that he won’t be back next season and that seems like a reasonable assumption. One big reason: like Ilya Kovalchuk, Nabby might elect to take big money with the KHL. Even if he stays in the NHL, Nabokov is going to get paid a lot.
I just don’t think the Sharks will be the team paying him big money.
2009-10 season stats: 7 goals, 23 assists for 30 points
2009-10 playoff stats: 1 goal, 1 assist for 2 points
Rob Blake is old. Pretty soon he’ll inherit all of those Chris Chelios old jokes like a big family passes down clothing.
The thing is, Blake is like Chelios in that he keeps providing solid-to-good play as he defies age. My gut feeling is that he would retire, but who knows, really? It’s really Blake’s choice. At the right price, I’m sure the Sharks would have him back.
So what are your thoughts? Do you think all three will be back? None of them? Somewhere in between? Do tell in the comments.