San Jose Sharks Sign RFA Timo Meier: Four Years $6 Million AAV

The San Jose Sharks have signed one of their essential players, in right-wing Timo Meier.

After Joe Pavelski left for the Dallas Stars, it was paramount the Sharks signed Meier, and they got him in a great 4 year deal, at $6 million per year. This contract was another stellar signing by GM Doug Wilson, considering what he still has left to do and what Wilson has already done. After signing Erik Karlsson to an 8 year $11.5mil AAV, the Sharks had very little room to sign what many thought was one of their core players going forward, Timo Meier. The other one is 23 year old rightwing Kevin Labanc, look for him to sign for around $3mil AAV in the coming days. The Sharks 2019-20 team is rounding out as expected and they look more than capable for another feeding frenzy next season.

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Sharks Depth Going Forward

The Sharks blue line is in fully operational Death Star mode, so their focus will be on signing Joe Thornton, Dylan Gambrell and Kevin Labanc next. The Sharks will also look to add depth with signing their old captain and long time center Patrick Marleau, the Sharks second pick in the first round in 1997. Marleau played with the Sharks for 19 seasons and is another great playoff scoring threat along with a team leader for the up and coming youth in the Sharks locker room. I am considering the Sharks move of letting Pavelski go and signing Meier as addition by subtraction. The Sharks will lose the 38 goals that Pavelski provided, but it will also allow Meier to step up even more than he did last year. Last season he netted 30 goals along with 36 assists, not to mention the 5 goals and 10 assists during the 2018-19 playoff run to the Western Conference Finals. With him playing on the top line with Logan Couture, those number will inevitably rise. During the playoffs this past season we all witnessed what Meier is capable of, and the Swiss born first round pick is primed to be a force for the Sharks.

Logan Couture New Captain

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With Joe Pavelski signing a new 3 year deal with the Dallas Stars, the Sharks will be naming a new captain. The overwhelming fans choice from what I have seen on Twitter, would be a one Logan Couture. Couture has been amazing in all the cup runs the Sharks have had, amassing 101 points since the 2009-10 season and shocking the world with 30 playoff points in 2015-16. Mr. Playoffs has more than what it takes to be a captain in this league and I see the 30 year old center being handed the “C” for next season. The only other player besides Joe Thornton that could take the reigns of being captain is Erik Karlsson, having been team captain in Ottawa, but I think Logan Couture has earned that right. Stay tuned Sharks fans, there is more to come! Chomp Chomp!!!

Jon Margolis

@jmargolis_NHL

Player Profiles via hockey-reference.com

Featured Image: Dinur Blum

San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks Current Situation Before 2019 Draft

The San Jose Sharks are in an interesting situation entering the 2019 Draft, having no first round picks and limited salary cap space after signing Erik Karlsson to an eight year contract worth $92 million.

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Erik Karlsson‘s AAV will be $11.5 per season and will not be an UFA until 2027. This was great news for Sharks fans until we see what is left to spend on San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski. The Sharks will still look to keep their core intact, but may have to let Pavelski go. Let’s take a deeper look into the Sharks current situation.

Captain Pavelski Walks

Signing Erik Karlsson was huge and puts the Sharks in a weird place considering their captain Joe Pavelski will be needing a contract as well. Since the Sharks and Pavelski already had a hometown deal on his last contract, I do not see that happening again, which lies the problem. Pavelski will be 35 years old by next season and is still in position to receive a large contract somewhere around $7 mil/per. Having signed Karlsson, I do not see the Sharks retaining the captain Pavelski as it does not make financial sense. The Sharks must also sign Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc who are young and the future of this team along with Tomas Hertl. Meier and Labanc’s contracts could be around 9 million combined, (Meier 5yrs/$5.75) (Labanc 3yrs/$3.25) that leaves approximately 7 million to sign Joe Thornton and fill in the gaps.

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Keep Thornton

Joe Thornton is not going anywhere and will sign a team friendly contract, he does not want to play anywhere else and has made over $100 million in his career. The players that remain to be signed that would have smaller contracts would be Antti Suomela, Dylan Gambrell and Joonas Donskoi. All three can contribute and the three would total around $4 million. Leaving enough money to keep Joakim Ryan, rather than Tim Heed. The only player out of a starter that could essential walk besides Pavelski would be Gustav Nyquist, I do not think they have the money to retain him.

So with that said, the Sharks team looks something like this next season.

Forwards

Kane – Couture – Meier
Labanc – Hertl – Donskoi
Sorenson – Thornton – Suomela
Radil – Goodrow/Gambrell – Melker Karlsson

Defensemen

Vlasic — Erik Karlsson
Simek — Burns
Dillon — Ryan
Middleton

Goaltenders

Jones
Dell

On the Future

My opinion on the Sharks retaining Erik Karlsson is that they made the right move. If in turn that means letting Pavelski go, then that is the cost of keeping one of the best offensive defensemen in San Jose. The Sharks would obviously like to keep their 13 year veteran captain Pavelski on the roster, but having $65 million tied up already probably means it cannot happen. Pavelski will have one more monster contract in his career and this is his chance. The Sharks will be fine offensively and will give the younger guys, Hertl, Meier and Labanc even more room to make noise. Logan Couture would most likely fill the void at captain and continue his epic career as a Shark.

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I also think the Sharks will be fine with no first round draft pick this year as they added a second rounder in 2019 and a third round pick in 2020 by trading Justin Braun to the Philadelphia Flyers. That trade frees up $3.8 million in cap space and recoups some of the draft picks lost with the Erik Karlsson deal with the Ottawa Senators. The Sharks GM Doug Wilson is a master at late round draft picks, but the Sharks time is now. The Sharks seemed poised to make another cup run next season and with the re-signing of EK65, up and coming youngsters the future is bright! Chomp chomp!!!

You can follow me on Twitter at @jmargo23

All stats and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, Cap Friendly and the NHL.

 

 

Masterton Trophy: A Breakdown Of The Nominees

The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.

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Each team selects one of their players who overcame adversity to contribute to their hockey club to the best of their capabilities. The award has often been a hallmark to the player on the team that saw an injury threaten their career, or perhaps a difficult circumstance in their personal life. Overall, this is one of those awards where it is just an honour to be nominated because of the tremendous respect that the nominee usually garners from their peers.

It is often very tough to weigh some nominees against each other. This is especially true considering that every team nominates a player. The Masterton Trophy nominees are thirty or thirty-one of the most compelling stories in hockey from that season. However, even though it is tough to weigh many of these nominees against each other, the award is narrowed down to three names ahead of Wednesday nights ceremony. Let’s explore the three names who ended up as nominees:

Nick Foligno, Forward, Columbus Blue Jackets

Although Nick Foligno’s story is fairly well-documented, the story of him, his family, and specifically his daughter Milana does elude some hockey fans. Shortly after Milana’s birth in October 2013, she underwent a surgery to repair a heart defect. The surgery was successful, but the nature of the condition will continue to present a decent amount of complications. This included a virus that Milana contracted over the fall which led to the surgical procedure on December 31st during this past season. Foligno took a leave-of-absence, but returned to action a few weeks later as Milana made a swift recovery.

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Foligno and his family have donated over $1 million to both Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus and Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston, both facilities credited with treating Milana over the years. Milana and the Foligno’s have had their obstacles over the years, and this year was just another bump in the road. The great news is that Milana recovered from her surgery, and by all accounts continues to enjoy a fairly normal childhood. Nick is a warrior for the Columbus Blue Jackets. While this year had it’s challenges for him, he was the leader for what ended up being the best season yet for the Jackets and their fans.

Robin Lehner, Goaltender, New York Islanders

Ah yes, Robin Lehner. The goaltender I always loved, but something about him seemed off. Watching him in Buffalo, he just seemed uneasy sometimes despite being a very talented goaltender. Then when the Buffalo Sabres chose to let Lehner walk as an unrestricted free agent rather than tender him a qualifying offer, I knew something was up. On July 3rd he signed a one-year deal with the New York Islanders.

I still didn’t quite get it. Then came his September 13th article on The Athletic. Lehner went into great detail about his struggles with anxiety, addiction, and depression. These battles were beginning to take over his life. Lehner talks about his suicidal thoughts, his meltdown during a game last season, the strain on his family and relationship, and his decision to seek out the NHLPA’s Substance Abuse Program for help. It really is one hell of a read. I remember reading on my way to work that day, and thinking that it was one of the most vulnerable and honest things I had ever read about a professional athlete.

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On top of this, Lehner went on to have the best season of his career this season, earning himself a Vezina Trophy nomination. He helped lead the Islanders to the season round of the playoffs in a year where nobody expected them to be a serious team. All told, Lehner’s story is really remarkable. Without Lehner’s decision to go to rehabilitation, it is hard to imagine he is where he is today.

Joe Thornton, Forward, San Jose Sharks

We all know Jumbo Joe. One of the best players of our generation, Joe Thornton is loved by most hockey fans. While he continues to age, Thornton’s hockey IQ allows him to be a very valuable asset well into his thirties. For the San Jose Sharks, his importance cannot be understated. In January 2018, Thornton injured both his ACL and MCL, and was forced to miss the rest of the 2017-18 season. His rehabilitation carried into the 2018-19 season, but Thornton was able to get back on the ice and produce at a consistent level.

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It is important to understand just how difficult the road back from an ACL surgery is for a professional hockey player. The basic recovery can last up to nine months, but re-establishing strength in the knee will be a lifelong project. Couple that with the fact that Thornton was 38-years-old at the time of the injury, Thornton’s return is incredibly impressive and speaks to the dedication level that Joe has been known for over his career.

Although his future with the Sharks remains up in the air, Thornton has elected to return to the NHL in 2019-2020. Eighteen months ago, there was some doubt how much longer he’d be able to go. Here we are, and Jumbo Joe is still here. Plus, he grew the beard back out. So all is well.

Predicting the Winner

There are a lot of great stories, and these are just a few of them. However, I expect Robin Lehner to take home the honours in Las Vegas on Wednesday night. Lehner’s story is something that helped further the discussion on mental health in professional athletes. His decision to take his struggles public will be admired and talked about for years. Not only is his story remarkable, it is also the fact that Lehner was able to dominant the game a lot of nights makes his turnaround almost unbelievable. A lot of fans knew that Lehner’s talent was always there, but now that his head is in the game, he is a force to be reckoned with.

A full list of the initial nominees can be found here.

All stats and information courtesy of Hockey Reference and The NHL.

Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers Acquire Justin Braun

Per Capfriendly, the Philadelphia Flyers have acquired defender Justin Braun from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2019 2nd Round Pick and a 2020 3rd Round Selection.

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What do the Flyers Get?

Justin Braun, 32, is a right-shooting defender known for his defensive abilities. Originally drafted 201st overall by the Sharks in 2007, Braun has spent his entire 9 year NHL career with the Californian club.

In 607 career NHL games, the Minnesota native has recorded 24 goals and 130 assists for 154 points. During this span, Braun has averaged a 50.2 CF%, a 99.7 PDO rating and 19:56 TOI. Braun has a fitting defensive reputation, as he starts 56.8% of his shifts in the defensive zone.

Despite his career-long reputation of solid defensive play, which is a major need of the Flyers, Braun is a risky acquisition from Philly’s point of view. Coming off a poor year (78GP-2G-14A-16P-49.7CF%-96.9PDO), Braun is exiting his prime. Moreover, the Flyers gave up two picks for the aging D-man, one being the 41st overall selection in the upcoming 2019 entry draft, a pick that could be used to select potential steals Samuel Fagemo, Jackson LaCombe, or Nolan Foote.

What do the Sharks Get?

Trading Braun, who has one-year left at $3.8 million, gives the cap-starved Sharks some much-needed space. The Sharks also add two picks, something not many could have predicted for Braun. In my opinion, the return is fantastic for San Jose, getting a 2nd and 3rd round pick for a declining defender with one year left is most definitely a win.

Deal Judgement

The Flyers give up a little too much for a declining asset that may or may not help the Flyers’ weak defensive situation. They could have forced the cap crunch Sharks to cave a bit and take a lessor combination of picks or possibly paid with just the second rounder rather than depleting assets as they’ve done.  

Statistics retrieved from hockey-reference.com and capfriendly.com 

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals

 

 

San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks: Erik Karlsson signs record deal

It has been widely reported that Erik Karlsson is staying with the San Jose Sharks on an 8-year deal with an $11.45 AAV.

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The Good

Erik Karlsson is a generational defenseman. These guys are worth every penny that you invest in them. In just 53 games last season, he had 3 goals and 42 assists. He is a contender to win the Norris Trophy, and when healthy, could be a Hart Trophy level candidate. If you watch footage of him playing, you will quickly notice the precision passing and flawless skating that he has. One of the best of our generation and a surefire Hall of Famer.

The Bad

As noted above, he only played in 53 games last season and missed the final game of the playoffs due to a groin strain. He had surgery on May 31, and San Jose is reporting that he should be good to go at the start of next season. The injuries have been mounting over the past few seasons, as he missed 11 games last season, and finished the 2016-17 campaign with a fractured foot. The other notable thing is that he is 29 years old, and that means the Sharks will be paying a 37-year old defenseman $11.45M dollars. Sure, the cap is going to increase, barring a financial setback, but that will still be a hefty tag to carry for a team that is a perennial contender.

Other factors for the Sharks, include a large salary commitment to a very small group of players. As of now they have ~$41M committed to just 5 players (Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Logan Couture, Evander Kane, and Karlsson). Even if the salary cap rises to the projected $83M, that is almost half of your cap gone before you even address the Joe Pavelski and Kevin Labanc contracts. I understand the logic in re-signing Erik Karlsson, but it will be difficult for the Sharks to maintain their consistent level of Pacific Division dominance with this model. Every team has a few players on ELC’s on their Stanley Cup roster, but San Jose may need their whole bottom nine on those contracts just to fill out their roster.

The Verdict

I have faith in the way that Doug Wilson works with other GM’s in the league, and I am sure he will find a way to get the numbers lined up. But looking at this in a vacuum, this is a win for Erik Karlsson and the Free Agent class, and a loss (for now) for the Sharks.

research from capfriendly.com

stats from hockey-reference.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals