Marleau, Sharks reunion appears unlikely

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It doesn’t appear a return to the San Jose Sharks will be in the cards for Patrick Marleau.

Marleau spent 19 years in the Bay Area before leaving in free agency two seasons ago to join the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs traded Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes over the summer to clear cap space. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, bought out the remaining year on his contract, making him a free agent.

Reports suggested that Marleau would have liked to return to the city where he’s spent the majority of his career, but as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Wednesday, there doesn’t seem to be a fit.

It’s hard to imagine Marleau, who will turn 40 in 10 days, is shooting for big money given that he’s already getting paid, so it seems like the Sharks are the hesitant ones in this case. They have just under $4.7 million in cap space to work and, it’s assumed, Joe Thornton still to sign.

Thornton made $5 million last year, and even if Marleau would come on the cheap, it doesn’t appear possible to fit both aging players on the same roster.

Marleau had his worst statistical season since his rookie year (and not counting the 2012-13 lockout) with 16 goals and 21 assists after playing the full 82-game schedule for a sixth consecutive year.

Marleau’s agent said his client will pursue other opportunities. Even with his advanced age, there is sure to be suitors for a veteran like Marleau, who guys like Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews raved about.

If nothing else, Marleau brings leadership, durability and a mentoring presence to a locker room. Those things still count for something, and it likely comes on the cheap.

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• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck