When Patrick Marleau's agent told Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman on Wednesday that the former Sharks captain doesn't fit into San Jose's plans right now, some brushed off the news as a player's rep simply doing his job in trying to rile up interest from other teams.
But when the general manager of the team at the center of the discussion confirms it in his own words, you can't brush it off any longer.
Sharks GM Doug Wilson did as much Wednesday, telling The Athletic's Kevin Kurz that the team has chosen to go in a different, more youthful direction.
"We feel that we have one of the strongest groups of young players that we have ever had, knocking on the door, and we have promised them that same opportunity to show they deserve a spot," Wilson explained. “This takes nothing away from what Patrick accomplished here as a player and as a man. He will always be a San Jose Shark, no matter where he goes.
“But the team is at a different place right now and is continuing to evolve. We owe it to the players who have put the time in preparing for their opportunity to show what they can do."
In explaining his reasoning, Wilson compared the Sharks' current state to that of when Marleau departed San Jose for Toronto in free agency two years ago, which created opportunities for younger players such as Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc. Those players benefitted from those opportunities and have become a part of the Sharks' core. Clearly, after losing captain Joe Pavelski to the Dallas Stars, Wilson is hoping the decision to opt for youth will result similarly this time around.
With confirmation that the Sharks won't sign Marleau, their roster isn't any more finalized, but we can start to more accurately zero in on how they will fill it out.
At some point before the start of training camp on Sept. 13, Joe Thornton is expected to sign a short-term contract extension, which will fill a big hole in the middle. But as you look down the roster, it isn't exactly loaded with established wingers on the right side, outside of Labanc.
Certainly, Wilson is counting on some of the younger players to fill those spots, but Kurz also mentioned the possibility of a late-offseason acquisition, depending on how the restricted free-agent market resolves itself.
As of now, there still remains plenty of mystery as to how the Sharks will fill out the remainder of their roster. But one thing is clear: It won't involve Marleau.