When I looked at the San Jose Sharks’ July 2010 a while ago, it seemed like it had Impending Doom written all over it. I mean, after all, the team had to answer questions about impact unrestricted (Patrick Marleau, Evgeni Nabokov) as well as restricted (Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi) free agents. Not to mention the retirement of Rob Blake.
Yet it seems like the team basically said “let’s keep everyone except that Russian guy who carried our goaltending for the last decade.” There’s no doubt that allowing Nabokov to flee to the KHL in lieu of relatively unproven goalie Antero Niittymaki is a big change, but the rest of their core seems to be in place.
Especially since all signs point to the team locking up some of the remaining stragglers.
Craig Custance reports that the team is close to signing a one-year deal with restricted free agent Setoguchi and also began talks with their leading point producer (and, occasionally, their go-to scapegoat) Joe Thornton. I’ll take a deeper look at Thornton’s situation later, but here’s what Custance had to say about a possible one-year deal for Setoguchi.
Both sides are optimistic it could happen in the next week. In just his second year in the NHL, Setoguchi scored 31 goals. Last season, he had 20 goals in 70 games, along with five goals in the playoffs.
“A kid like him doesn’t mind rolling the dice on a short-term deal,” agent Paul Krepelka told Sporting News. “I’m optimistic we’ll get something done.”
Without knowing much about the salary numbers, it sounds like a solid gamble for both sides. Setoguchi gets a chance to lock-in his value since his 2009-10 season wasn’t quite as explosive as his 31-goal 08-09 campaign. The Sharks are wise to be careful with term regarding Setoguchi, especially after they were burned so badly thanks to the latest beneficiary of the Joe Thornton Effect: Jonathan Cheechoo.