Wilson: Sharks will ‘explore everything’ to improve


After all the turmoil of the last 12 months, Doug Wilson remains as GM of the San Jose Sharks. Many would agree that changing head coaches should just be the beginning of his work this offseason.

Whether it be trades, free agents acquisitions or moving around in the draft, it sounds like the situation is pretty flexible for the Sharks during during what Wilson described as “probably the most important part of the transition process that we’ve gone through the last year.”

“We’re putting this team in a position to bounce back and be very competitive come September,” Wilson said during a pre-draft address, according to CSNBayArea.com. “Will we explore everything? Yeah, we will.”

Exploring everything could mean giving up cap space to improve and it also may mean handing over a high draft pick.

The Sharks actually have a lot of both.

General Fanager estimates their cap space at $17.3 million, and while they need to re-sign or replace Antti Niemi, the Sharks could conceivably make a big splash in free agency or exploit another team’s cap crunch this summer. Wilson has also done an impressive job collecting draft assets, as San Jose boasts 17 selections in the next two drafts.

The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle provides some interesting insight into Wilson’s possible aims:

While San Jose’s most immediate need appears to be a starting goalie, they’re also interested in adding on the blueline. That could come through free agency, as there’s a solid crop of defencemen available that includes François Beauchemin, Paul Martin, Christian Ehrhoff, Johnny Oduya, Andrej Sekera, Cody Franson and Mike Green.

Sure, it had to sting to miss the playoffs in 2014-15, and it’s possible that the team’s dysfunction may continue. That said, this team could make a dramatic push if Wilson’s on his game during (another) pivotal offseason.

UFA of the Day: Paul Martin


Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is …

Paul Martin

There’s always the possibility that the Pittsburgh Penguins will bring Martin back – GM Jim Rutherford insists it could happen – but the blueliner would rank among the best options on defense if he hits the market.

While he’s no better than solid offensively, the veteran is responsible in his own end and possesses the sort of puck-moving skills that seemingly become more marketable with each passing season.

That said, at 34, his best days are likely behind him.

One obvious concern is his injury issues. He managed to play 74 regular season games in 2014-15, yet he was limited to 34 in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign and 39 in 2013-14. Even if he his injury luck improves, there’s also a natural concern that he’ll lose one too many steps with age.

When you think about it, the vast majority of free agent options come with some flaws, and the bottom line is that Martin’s array of abilities should be very desirable.

If the Penguins don’t lock him down, defense-needy teams that play at a frenetic pace may make for the best match; perhaps the Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche or even the New York Islanders might be wise to give his agent a call?

Click here for more UFAs.

Avs eyeing left shot defensemen in free agency


According to Mike Chambers of The Denver Post, the Avs’ top priority heading into free agency is to add left-handed shooting defensemen.

Chambers previously reported the club is unlikely to re-sign pending unrestricted free agent defensemen Jan Hejda or Ryan Wilson. Both are left shots.

“As a coach, yes, we’d like to have somebody to play with EJ (inaudible) and Tyson. Obviously, we have (Nick) Holden and (Brad) Stuart, who are left shots, but we’d like to add a defenseman in the top four,” Patrick Roy said. “I think it will help our team tremendously.”

According to Generalfanager.com, there are currently 60 left shot blue liners set to hit the open market on July 1.

Chambers suggests the Avs will focus on Andrej Sekera, Christian Ehrhoff, Matt Irwin, Johnny Oduya and Paul Martin. Sekera is the Avs’ top target, according to Chambers.

The 29-year-old split the 2014-15 season between the Carolina Hurricanes and L.A. Kings scoring three goals and 23 points in 73 games while averaging nearly 22 minutes a night in ice time.

Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi said the team was in negotiations with Sekera last month and believes the blue liner wants to remain in Los Angeles.

Colorado could have as much as $13 million to play with in free agency.

“It’s definitely and exciting time for everybody — stressful as well,” GM Joe Sakic said of free agency. “We’ve got guys that we’re looking to see what we can do about adding to our lineup and see if something fits. It’s a two-way street. You can like somebody but they have to … players pick where they want to go. We have guys in mind that we’d like to come on board and help us win … We’re working and things keep coming up.”

Pens sign Swedish League veteran Niclas Andersen


The Pittsburgh Penguins’ potential new-look defense could include a seasoned veteran blueliner … who’s never played a game in the NHL.

They signed Niclas Andersen, long of the Swedish Hockey League, to a one-year contract on Monday. It’s considered an entry-level deal for the 27-year-old.

Andersen enjoyed a nice season for Byrnas in Sweden, generating 22 points in 54 games (easily his best point output). Andersen also got his feet wet in the KHL, going through 2012-13 and 2013-14 with Cherepovets Severstal.

While financial details weren’t available, the Penguins could save a lot of money on a younger defense in 2015-16, as it appears they’ll allow both Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff to walk. It’s unclear where exactly Andersen fits into the mix.

Amusingly, he could probably fool people if he swapped jerseys with another Penguins defenseman:

He may also continue a light trend in which the Pens are adding a little extra European flair:

Rutherford denies reports that Pens won’t re-sign UFAs Martin, Ehrhoff, Lapierre


Separate reports emerged yesterday that the Pittsburgh Penguins will not re-sign unrestricted free agent forward Maxim Lapierre or defensemen Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff.

When it came to passing on Martin, 34, and Ehrhoff, 32, the idea was to focus on a defensive youth movement while reallocating those savings towards bolstering the Penguins’ group of wingers. That might ultimately be the path Pittsburgh takes, but Penguins GM Jim Rutherford countered those reports.

“I don’t want to cross anybody off the list because you don’t know what happens here in the next month,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Paul Martin’s agent, Ben Hankinson, also asserted that there hasn’t been any decision made yet and that returning to Pittsburgh is still a possibility.

Pittsburgh has a little under $61.8 million committed to 13 players, per General Fanager. That gives them some flexibility going into the free agent period, but signing Martin and Ehrhoff would make it difficult for them to add anyone else.