Last season, the San Jose Sharks finished with 29 wins, 36 losses, and five OT defeats – good for last place in the Pacific Division. The northern California team was eerily quiet this offseason and will generally return with the same roster from a season ago. The Sharks do not have much wiggle room in terms of salary cap either. As it stands, they have approximately $2.3 million in space available.
The team also has several massive, long-term contracts on both the back end and up front. Is there any way they are active sellers if this season does not go according to the plan? A brief breakdown of salary at each position might help.
Sharks at Each Position
When fully healthy, the defensive unit is a solid but top-heavy group. In fact, three players – Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, and Marc- Édouard Vlasic – are on contract for the next five seasons at a price tag of $26.5 million per season. That does not allow much room for further defensive depth. Nor does it help that Karlsson is the youngest at age 30, while Vlasic is 33 and Burns 35.
Up front is a similar contractual landscape. San Jose has five players – Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Timo Meier, Thomas Hertl, and Kevin Labanc – making $31.35 million for the next two years. Labanc, a former 6th round Shark selection, was given a hefty raise in October when he accepted a 4-year, $18.9 million contract (AAV of $4.725 million). The 24-year-old had 14 goals and added 19 assists over 70 games last season.
Granted, the Sharks did add goaltender Devan Dubnyk to help a wildly inconsistent Martin Jones. However, Dubnyk wasn’t exactly crisp last season either! At 34, Dubnyk only has a limited amount of time left to prove still be a starting goaltender. Still some questions marks in the crease.
That is a basic synopsis of the Sharks heading into the 2020-21 season . If this team can get average to good goaltending, they should remain competitive and relevant for a year, maybe two. After that it might be tough sledding for this team.
Could the Sharks decide to pour out the bait and try to unload some of those lengthy and hefty contracts? Or do they stay the course and rely on that group of aging players until the bitter end? Only GM Doug Wilson knows.
If the Sharks decided to try and shed some assets, who might be at the top of that list? One might think Wilson would get plenty of calls on Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns.
Karlsson has had trouble putting a full season together of late, but is still offensively dangerous when he is in the lineup. However, his current contract at an AAV of $11.5 million extends seven more years until 2026-27! If he is having injury problems now, what that might look like in three or four years?
Burns is also an excellent player and an offensive defenseman, but his numbers are slowly starting to decline. He would be a great one- or two-year rental but he is due $8 million per year over the next five seasons. Both of those contracts might make most teams hesitate unless San Jose retains a big chunk of that salary on a sliding scale.
The forward core offers some good players, the most enticing of which is Timo Meier. The Swiss native is a heavy, power forward type of player that can also contribute offensively. At just 24, he is a throw back player that playoff bound teams might want to acquire. His current contract is reasonably priced at an AAV of $6 million for three more seasons.
Couture might be a great addition for any team looking to add leadership and experience down the middle. The 31-year-old likely has a few more solid years, but like Karlsson is also locked up until 2026-27 (AAV of $8 million).
As seen, this club has more than a few contracts that could become very problematic down the road. Planning for the future may require the San Jose Sharks to undergo some significant short term pain.
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