SJ Sharks rumors: Team close to signing Devin Setoguchi, begins talks with Joe Thornton

jumbojoeandguchi.jpgWhen 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.

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    Allen’s mental reset continues, as Blues will start Hutton in Pittsburgh

    St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen is slow to get up after giving up a goal to Washington Capitals' T.J. Oshie during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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    St. Louis is giving Jake Allen more time to sort out his struggles.

    Today, the club announced backup Carter Hutton will start tomorrow in Pittsburgh, while Pheonix Copley — the AHL call-up that allowed five goals in Saturdays’ loss in Winnipeg — will serve as the No. 2.

    Allen, who didn’t even travel to Winnipeg so he could ‘reset’ mentally, will start on Thursday in Minnesota, which will be St. Louis’ last game prior to the All-Star break. Copley will again serve as the backup.

    The decision to go back to Allen comes after a horrific stretch in which he was yanked from three straight games, and four of his past six.

    It is noteworthy, though, that Allen isn’t getting the Pittsburgh game. Part of that could be the opponent — the Pens are a force offensively, and lead the NHL in goals per game — but it could also be that Allen needs additional time to sort out his issues.

    Whatever the case, the plan may have changed. In explaining why he left Allen behind while the team went to Winnipeg, Blues GM Doug Armstrong suggested Allen could get right back in.

    “I think taking a day way, getting a total reset — he could reset traveling with the team, but I wanted a complete reset — and then we come back on Sunday, he’s back in the net and he’s ready to go,” Armstrong said, per the Post-Dispatch. “To me, it’s not a huge story; he’s going to take a day to get a reset with his family — he just had a young baby — but the play needs to improve and I want to give him a fresh start.”

    Allen’s struggles this year are well-documented (see here, here, here and here). Per the Post-Dispatch, his .897 save percentage ranks 43rd among 47 goalies who have appeared in 14 or more games this season.

    Oshie’s contract status underscores urgency in Washington

    Washington Capitals' Matt Niskanen (2) and T.J. Oshie (77) celebrate with Alex Ovechkin (8) after Ovechkin scored against the Dallas Stars during the third period an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Dallas. Stars' Jamie Benn (14) skates back to the bench. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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    The way he keeps scoring, T.J. Oshie‘s next contract isn’t getting any smaller.

    The 30-year-old winger was today named the NHL’s third star of the week, after racking up six points (3G, 3A) in three games for the red-hot Washington Capitals.

    Oshie now has 31 points (17G, 14A) in 38 games. A pending unrestricted free agent, he’ll no doubt be looking for a raise beyond his current cap hit of $4.175 million.

    One comparable contract is Andrew Ladd‘s seven-year, $38.5 million deal with the Islanders.

    Loui Eriksson‘s six-year, $36 million deal with the Canucks is another.

    And one more for good measure: David Backes‘ five-year, $30 million deal with the Bruins.

    All three of those contracts have a cap hit of around, or exactly, $6 million. Ladd and Eriksson are a year older than Oshie, while Backes is two years older. They’re all reliable veteran wingers, just like Oshie.

    Now, the Caps could always try and convince Oshie to take a home-town discount. They may even be able to keep him without a discount.

    That being said, their No. 1 priority has to be getting Evgeny Kuznetsov, a pending restricted free agent, locked up. And they also need to keep in mind John Carlson, their No. 1 defenseman who can become unrestricted in the summer of 2018.

    “We’re going to have some decisions to make as far as veteran players, and our young guys are going to be due for some pay raises,” Caps GM Brian MacLellan said last season.

    When he said it, MacLellan saw his team in a “two-year window.”

    Alas, only one year of that window remains. Hence, the urgency to finally win the Stanley Cup this spring.

    Like Oshie, Justin Williams and Karl Alzner are pending UFAs.

    And like Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Brett ConnollyDmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt, and Philipp Grubauer are pending RFAs.

    The Caps host Carolina tonight.

    Related: Kuznetsov sets table for Jakub Vrana’s first NHL goal

    Galchenyuk re-injures knee, but not believed to be serious

    MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 08:  Alex Galchenyuk #27 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on during the warmup prior to the NHL game against the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre on November 8, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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    Given that Montreal center Alex Galchenyuk‘s already missed 18 games this season to a knee injury, there was some consternation on Monday as head coach Michel Therrien said Galchenyuk had aggravated the ailment, and would miss Tuesday’s game against Calgary.

    Thankfully for the Habs, it doesn’t sound like a serious issue.

    Therrien said Galchenyuk “slightly injured” his knee, and is listed as day-to-day. This falls in line with what occurred during Saturday’s OT loss to Buffalo — even though Galchenyuk suffered the ailment during the game, he was able to play through it and finish with 16:36 TOI.

    It’s unfortunate this knee issue has lingered, as the fifth-year pro is having a great season. Galchenyuk has 11 goals and 27 points through 30 games and, had he been healthy, probably would’ve eclipsed last year’s production, when he scored 30 goals and 56 points.

    Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see when the Habs opt to get Galchenyuk back in the lineup. After tomorrow’s game against Calgary, they have just one game left until the All-Star break, on Thursday in Brooklyn.

    After that, they don’t play again until Jan. 31.

    Rangers’ Hayes out 2-3 weeks with lower-body injury

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    Kevin Hayes, who sits third on the Rangers with 35 points, will miss the next couple of weeks with a lower-body ailment, the club announced on Monday.

    The news comes one day after Hayes exited New York’s 1-0 OT win over Detroit after playing just 8:41. Per Newsday, it’s a left leg ailment.

    It’s a tough blow for a guy that had been playing well lately. Hayes had been a point-per-game producer in January, with two goals and five assists through seven games, developing chemistry on a line with Michael Grabner and J.T. Miller.

    If there’s a silver lining here, it’s the schedule. Hayes’ absence will coincide with the All-Star break, so he won’t miss as many games as he would’ve under usual circumstances.

    Still, if he’s shelved for the full three weeks, that puts his return around Feb. 13 — meaning he could miss up to eight contests.

    In related news, the Blueshirts activated Matt Puempel off IR today. He’d been out since December with a concussion.