While there’s still a lot of veteran free agents floating around available to be signed still, it appears one big name from the recent past is having one potential landing location taken off the list for him. Former Wild right wing Owen Nolan has been skating and working out of late in San Jose with handfuls of other players and while it might seem that the Sharks could use a dose of veteran grit from a guy like Nolan, it appears San Jose isn’t hiring if what David Pollak of The San Jose Mercury News is correct.
After scoring 41 goals the past two seasons in Minnesota, Nolan had a chance to play a third with the Wild, but took a pass. Instead he pinned his hopes on being able to sign with San Jose — a more serious cup contender for one thing; his off-season home for another — as a free agent. But it didn’t go the way he wanted as the Sharks are opting to go with younger prospects such as Cameron Macintyre or Frazer Mclaren in the role Nolan would have filled. And by the time that was clear, the Wild had gone out and signed Eric Nystrom, Matt Cullen and John Madden — leaving no room for Nolan to return.
Nolan must wish things had gone differently, but he doesn’t sound at all bitter, saying he understands and accepts General Manager Doug Wilson’s decision.
“I totally respect the direction they’re going,” Nolan said.
Nolan is optimistic he will land somewhere in the NHL and continues to skate at the informal captain’s practices weekday mornings at Sharks Ice that continue until the Sept. 17 start of training camp. In fact, he and his young son Dylan occasionally take the ice together once everybody else has left.
With the kind of flair for the nostalgic that I’ve got, it would’ve been great to see Nolan throw the Sharks jersey on for one more year. While he’s many years removed from his famous “called shot” in the 1997 All-Star Game in San Jose as a member of the Sharks, Nolan’s managed to stick around in the game and provide the sort of veteran leadership youthful teams (like the Wild) needed. The Sharks aren’t exactly a young team, but they’ve got enough young parts ready to step in immediately this year to make things a bit interesting for a Stanley Cup contender.
Ideally, Nolan will end up elsewhere and with jobs, at the moment, being scarce it may come down to getting an invite to a team camp in order to earn a spot. While that can provide a bit of a shot to one’s pride, having the motivation set right in front of you to go out and win a job is the sort of thing I’d be afraid of if I was a younger player trying to crack the lineup and someone with the competitive fires burning like Owen Nolan is in camp.