Sharks

Mailbag: Will the Sharks re-sign Patrick Marleau?

Mailbag: Will the Sharks re-sign Patrick Marleau?

Who else but Patrick Marleau to discuss in today’s Sharks mailbag? We’ll save the trade deadline questions for another day, but for now…

It’s fair to say that the chances have probably improved from the start of the season that pending free agent Patrick Marleau will return for a 20th season in teal. The 37-year-old has been the team’s best forward for the last handful of games, capped off by his historic 500th career goal on Thursday in Vancouver.

What his return could depend on more than anything, though, is if he’s willing to accept just a one-year deal. Looking at it from the Sharks’ perspective, I’m not sure offering him a multi-year deal makes sense.

Not only do the Sharks have some promising young players at the wing position in Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc that are still growing their games, other forwards like Danny O’Regan, Nikolay Goldobin, Rourke Chartier and Marcus Sorensen could break through at some point. Further, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson believes that the wing position is the easiest to integrate new players into the fold, whether they are young players or free agents. I also believe part of the reason that Mikkel Boedker got a four-year contract over the summer was the assumption that Marleau would not return.

While fitting Marleau in on a one-year deal around $3-4 million probably wouldn’t be much of an issue for 2017-18, several Sharks players are going to be due some hefty raises after that. Marc-Edouard Vlasic could be in line for a Brent Burns-like payday, as he heads into the final year of his current contract. Martin Jones could also get a monster extension this summer, when he’s eligible to open talks on a new deal. Tomas Hertl’s current three-year contract will also be up after 2018-19.

Any multi-year contract extension for Marleau would have to be done with that in mind, as Vlasic, Jones and Hertl should all be viewed as vital pieces for the next several seasons.

I can envision the situation with Marleau playing out similarly to how it did with another organizational legend – Dan Boyle. 

After the 2013-14 season, in which it was evident he was slowing down, the then-37-year-old Boyle wanted a multi-year contract. The Sharks were only willing to offer an incentive-laden one-year deal, and Boyle ended up going to the Rangers on a two-year contract. He admitted later he was "devestated" to leave San Jose, but that's how the business works.

Whether Marleau would accept a one-year deal or not, it allows the Sharks to placate some potentially upset fans, too. If Marleau insists on a multi-year deal and goes somewhere else, the Sharks could reply by telling their Marleau-loving fans, “hey, we tried…”

For now, though, the Sharks should just continue letting a motivated Marleau play for his next deal, wherever it may be. There should be no rush for them to get something done before the season concludes.

Historically, Marleau is more effective when he’s in such situations, and both parties are benefitting from that right now.

Sharks look for revenge, keep offensive momentum going against Islanders

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USATSI

Sharks look for revenge, keep offensive momentum going against Islanders

SAN JOSE -- The last time the Sharks squared off with the Islanders, they couldn't get the puck to the back of the net. 

But after their strong performance on Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres, the Sharks are a confident bunch headed into Saturday night's contest.

Joe Pavelski pinpointed the early power play goals Thursday giving the Sharks an offensive boost.

"That goes a long way," the captain said. "We had traffic, we played a pretty quick game as far as our power play. Direct and clean."

Getting the early goal, whether it's on the man advantage or at even strength, is something that gave the Sharks momentum against the Sabres. And it's something they surely want against a New York Islanders team that's working to establish an identity in the early post-Jon Tavares era. 

"They're a hard team to play against," coach Peter DeBoer said, reflecting on when the Sharks visited the Isles earlier in the month, "We got behind (in New York) and that's not a team you want to play from behind against."

In their last bout with the Islanders, the Sharks registered 35 shots on goal and were 61 percent in the faceoff circle. But they were unable to capitalize on their chances, including two power play opportunities early in the second frame. It was the Isles who notched the power play goal that period, with Anders Lee converting while Evander Kane was in the penalty box on a slashing call. 

The Sharks went into the third frame down one goal, and were unable to get on the scoreboard. 

That isn't to say San Jose can't jump out late in a game if they need to, as the team displayed with a strong third period against Buffalo on Thursday. As they skated onto the ice after the second intermission with a 2-1 lead, the Sharks hemmed the Sabres in their own zone and set up Logan Couture to notch San Jose's third goal on the evening.

Unlike their previous tilts against the Rangers and Devils, where the offense took their foot off the gas with a 2-1 lead in the third, the Sharks kept the offensive momentum going with the two-goal cushion.

A key for Saturday's tilt? Building off that offensive surge from the win against the Sabres and applying it against the Isles.

"[New York] found a way to break it open," Pavelski said of the 4-0 loss on October 8. "We need to keep trying to find our offense on a consistent basis."

How Sharks' penalty kill lived up to high expectations in win over Sabres

How Sharks' penalty kill lived up to high expectations in win over Sabres

The power play may have been the main focus of the Sharks’ Thursday night victory over the Sabres, but Team Teal wasn’t the only team with multiple chances on the man advantage. 

Buffalo spent their fair share of time on the power play, particularly in the latter portion of the first frame when the teams were trading off penalties. But even when Jack Eichel and the Sabres’ top power play unit was gaining momentum, the Sharks’ penalty kill robbed them of capitalizing on their opportunities.

Martin Jones had a front row seat to view how the penalty kill performed.

“We knew when to pressure the puck, and knew when to sit back and get in lanes and block shots,” the starting goaltender said after the game. 

Jones himself made some of his best saves of the evening, most notably when the Sharks came off the kill in the last two minutes of the first frame when a save on Jason Pominville resulted in Jones laying on his back to stop a flurry of Buffalo’s shots finding the back of the net.

“He was solid and bailed guys out when (Buffalo) had opportunities,” Joe Pavelski complimented Jones after the game.

This rendition of the Sharks' penalty kill has high standards set for itself. The Sharks' kill ranked second overall in the league last season at 84.4 percent -- far superior to its toughest opponents like the Vegas Golden Knights or the LA Kings. That same caliber of kill made an appearance on Thursday evening.

And although the Sharks likely want to spend less time in the penalty box than they have over the last two games, knowing the penalty kill is firing on all cylinders has to give them confidence, especially going up against its next opponent.

The Sharks play against the Islanders, who have four power play goals in six games played. While that may not look so intimidating on paper, New York’s power play already found a way through the Sharks penalty kill during San Jose’s visit last. Halting New York’s power play can give the Sharks’ kill a boost before it heads on the road next week – where they’ve given up a power play goal in three out of five games.

The Sharks rematch with the Islanders takes place Saturday at 7:30 p.m.