It would appear the Sharks are inching closer to adding another goaltender.
TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported Friday that San Jose is "in the lead" to sign Russian goaltender Alexei Melnichuk.
Further to the reports, also hearing the San Jose Sharks are the front-runners to land free-agent goalie Alexei Melnichuk. Lots of NHL interest in him. Not a done deal, but Sharks in the lead right now. https://t.co/5XKGavHjgQ— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 1, 2020
On Thursday, Sports-Express' Igor Eronko reported that Melnichuk was "set to sign" with the Sharks, though nothing is official as of yet. Eronko added that he expected Melnichuk would need at least one season in the AHL.
Melnichuk, 21, has spent his entire career up to this point playing in the three highest tiers of Russian hockey. Last season with SKA St. Petersburg, he went 8-5-1 with a .930 save percentage and 1.68 goals-against average across 16 games. He also posted four shutouts.
Listed at 6-foot-1, Melnichuk offers good size for the position. According to LeBrun, he is in high demand, and it's easy to see why the Sharks would be very interested.
San Jose's goaltending arguably has been its Achilles heel over the last two seasons, and there isn't exactly an obvious solution on the horizon. Martin Jones will return for a sixth season with the Sharks, unless he is traded or bought out. Backup netminder Aaron Dell is a restricted free agent, and very well could end up playing elsewhere next season.
In the minors, both Andrew Shortridge, 25, and Josef Korenar, 22, struggled with the Barracuda this past season, with both posting a goals-against average above 3.00 and a save percentage below .900. To be fair, though, that's probably more a reflection of the team's last-place finish. 19-year-old Zacharie Emond, currently with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL in Junior hockey, might be the future at the position, but he is still quite a ways off.
Frankly, as for who is going to be the man in between the pipes for San Jose, even two seasons from now, your guess is as good as any. Given the high salaries the Sharks have tied up in their top veterans, it certainly wouldn't hurt to have a cheap, young goaltender for roster-building purposes.
Maybe Melnichuk could be that guy.