San Jose Sharks 2010-11 salary cap outlook

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Thumbnail image for nabbyandmarleau.jpgMore detail about the Sharks’ unrestricted free agents



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.


sharkscore.jpgSan 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 rest

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?