SAN JOSE — Sharks general manager Doug Wilson felt he made a competitive offer this summer to keep Patrick Marleau in teal.
Not much more could have been done when the Toronto Maple Leafs made the kind of offer to Marleau that blew everyone out of the water.
The Sharks offered Marleau a two-year deal worth $10 million, according to what TSN’s Pierre LeBrun tweeted on July 2. The Leafs came in over the top, and signed Marleau to an eye-popping three-year contract worth $18.75 million.
Asked if there was any way the Sharks were going to offer a third year to Marleau, Wilson said, “We offered one of the best contracts a 38-year-old player has ever been offered in the form of dollars and term. It was a unique situation and we certainly respect Patty’s decision, we really do.”
As a result, the Sharks not only enter this season with an extra roster spot to be won out of camp by a forward, but plenty of available cap space should they feel a need for an upgrade at some point in the season.
Still, the Sharks will looking for one or two players to not only take a stranglehold on a top-nine role in the forward group, but also become a power play mainstay. If some of the young players do not seize that opportunity out of the gate, the Sharks have roughly $9 million in cap space to go shopping, likely via trade.
“I think we’re positioned really well,” Wilson said. “We talk a lot to every other team and, we’ll see.”
About to talk to Sharks GM Doug Wilson https://t.co/FjuiCtI4uy
— Curtis Pashelka (@CurtisPashelka) September 15, 2017
Marleau’s decision was announced on the afternoon of July 2, well after other unrestricted free agents had been signed. Wilson, though, said Marleau’s patience in making a decision on his future did not affect any other Sharks plans to sign a player.
Wilson’s first priorities were to extend the contracts of defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and goalie Martin Jones, and get Joe Thornton under contract. On July 1, Vlasic signed an eight-year $56 million contract and Jones inked a six-year, $34.5 million deal. The next day, after Marleau’s decision became public, Thornton signed a one-year deal worth $8 million.
“The free agent market was probably the weakest it’s ever been, but we are poised pretty well to have a lot of young players and cap space should opportunities come forward,” Wilson said.
“So we’re poised very well to go down that path. But we want these younger players to know that our word is good. You come in, we’re not going to give you a job, but we’re going to give you an opportunity.”
Wilson said he wasn’t surprised the Leafs made the offer they did, as they try to take the next step as an organization and surround their young players with quality, productive veterans.
“It’s supply and demand,” Wilson said. “With where (the Leafs) are at and the position that they were able to, cap-wise, be able to do it — it worked out really well for them and it worked out well for Patty and it opened up opportunities for us.
“It’s probably the best case scenario for everybody, but make no mistake about it, we wish Patty the best.”
Wilson said he’s not considering bringing in Jaromir Jagr, who remains a free agent, as the Sharks try to give younger players a shot.
“I don’t think he’s a fit for what we’re looking at,” Wilson said of Jagr.
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