Former Sharks captain Patrick Marleau is skating in San Jose, but a reunion reportedly isn't in the cards.
That's because the "Sharks don't want him," the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons wrote in his Saturday column.
"Apparently, Arizona does, but Marleau may not want to play there," Simmons wrote. "This [offseason] isn’t turning out the way he hoped it would."
The Toronto Maple Leafs traded Marleau, 39, to the Carolina Hurricanes this summer in order to clear salary-cap space. Marleau, who left the Sharks for the Leafs and signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract with Toronto in 2017, was then bought out days later. Marleau's family moved back to San Jose this summer, and the veteran forward said he wants to play closer to them. He told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun that he considered the Sharks "a good fit," but admitted he would be open to playing elsewhere in the Western Conference.
In his 21st NHL season, Marleau scored 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists). That represented the lowest total in an 82-game season of Marleau's career since his rookie campaign, even though Leafs coach Mike Babcock played Marleau over 16 minutes per night. The Sharks had plenty of departures up front this summer -- with ex-captain Joe Pavelski chief among them -- but San Jose is primed to use young wingers Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc in bigger roles next season. That doesn't leave much room for Marleau among the top six forwards, and the Sharks have younger prospects knocking on the door who can push for roles on the third and fourth lines.
The Coyotes could have room for Marleau, especially once forward Marian Hossa is placed on long-term injured reserve. Arizona only has just shy of $200,000 in salary-cap space according to Cap Friendly, but teams can exceed the salary cap by 10 percent during the summer. The Desert Dogs fought through countless injuries to challenge for a playoff spot, and Marleau would add experience to a forward corps that now features scoring winger Phil Kessel.
NHL training camps are about a month away, and there might not be a quick resolution for the longest-tenured player in Sharks history with so many restricted free agents -- like Mitch Marner, Marleau's former Toronto teammate -- still unsigned.