Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau might not be on NHL rosters at the moment, but both are staying active.
Former Sharks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff posted a photo with the duo from a locker room at San Jose's practice facility Monday.
Ehrhoff, 37, is younger than Marleau, 39, and Thornton, 40, but the German blue liner is retired and his old teammates seem to be gearing up for another season. Marleau and Thornton currently are unrestricted free agents, and both have said they intend to play in 2019-20.
The Toronto Maple Leafs traded Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes in a salary dump earlier this offseason, and the Hurricanes bought out Marleau's contract after he informed the team he wanted to play closer to his family after they moved back to San Jose. He told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun that a reunion with the Sharks "would be a good fit for me for sure."
Thornton, meanwhile, told reporters at June's NHL Awards he wanted to return for (at least) one more season. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said earlier this offseason he would give Thornton "all the time he needs to make whatever decision's right for him," and his photo with Ehrhoff adds credence to the idea it's a matter of when -- not if -- he re-signs with San Jose.
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The Sharks have just under $4.7 million in salary-cap space with 11 forwards under contract, according to Cap Friendly. Both players made more than that last season, but Thornton made $3 million less than he did in 2017-18 and Marleau is owed just under $3 million from the Hurricanes after his buyout. Thus, it's conceivable San Jose has enough room to re-sign Thornton and bring back Marleau.
For now, with just over a month before the Sharks' preseason opener on Sept. 17, the waiting game continues. But Ehrhoff's Instagram post is just another indication the two longest-tenured players in San Jose history intend to play next season.
It's time to see who's got the skills in the NHL.
That's right, All-Star weekend officially is here and the NHL's best will descend on Scottrade Center and see who's got the goods.
The fun starts Friday with the All-Star Skills Competition as the league's best compete in a variety of events such as Fastest Skater, Save Streak and Accuracy Shooting where Sharks All-Star Tomas Hertl will try and get the W.
It should be a lot of fun.
[RELATED: Hertl honored to be All-Star, not giving up on Sharks]
Here's how to watch the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills Competition online.
When: Friday, Jan. 24, at 5 p.m. PT (coverage starts at 3:30 p.m.)
Live Stream: NBC Sports
Sharks forward Tomas Hertl is all set for his debut at NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Louis.
“A huge accomplishment, it will be a big honor for me,” Hertl -- who is taking the place of injured San Jose captain Logan Couture -- recently said.
While he is on pace for a good statistical season, it's nothing like last year when Hertl potted 35 goals and 74 points.
This time around, the fun-loving forward is on a Sharks club that’s looking like a longshot to qualify for the playoffs.
“I still try to be positive, the smiley guy, the funny guy,” Hertl explained.
He also acknowledged those smiles and uplifting moments have been few and far between this season, but they are still significantly better than the alternative.
“It’s the only way I think to help it,” Hertl stated. “It gets too much in your head. Everybody will be in a bad mood. I try my best to bring it every day, a good mood in the locker room.”
There are widespread assessments as to what's at the root of the Sharks' struggles this season. For Hertl, it’s the defensive failures that bleed over into trying to create too much.
“When we start cheating, we just can’t do it,” Hertl said. “Maybe on other teams, they have different players. On our team, it has to start with defense.
“I think we’ve proven it over the last lot of years. There’s always the stat of ‘two-or-fewer’ goals, we always win those games. We know that and we've always been the team that’s tough against.”
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While Hertl’s second NHL season saw San Jose’s rare miss of the postseason, he has never been with the club in a year like this where things already look so bleak entering the All-Star break.
“We have to step it up, and just play together," he said. "Because only the team together can win the games.”