On the morning of the second day of NHL free agency, Patrick Marleau is still without a hockey home.
He could remain in San Jose, but other clubs are said to be in hot pursuit. The Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs are all still interested in Marleau, but the 37-year-old veteran forward is surely reluctant to move on from the place he’s called home for the past 19 seasons.
Marleau was reported to have a two-year offer on the table from the Sharks on Friday, but according to one source, offers from the other clubs – particularly Toronto, from what I understand – are better than what the Sharks are offering. It’s highly likely that Marleau is weighing whether to take a better deal somewhere else and uproot his family (or commute back and forth to the Bay Area), or stay with San Jose on a lesser deal.
There is genuine uncertainty regarding Marleau from everyone I’ve talked to. No one seems to know what he’ll decide. He deserves some time to make up his mind, of course, but I would be surprised if it drags on much longer.
On a related note, I don’t expect the Sharks will announce the one-year contract for Joe Thornton until Marleau’s decision becomes public. I’ve seen some people worry that the Sharks haven't announced that deal yet – and, it’s true that he hadn't put pen to paper as of Saturday – but Thornton has committed to return to the Sharks on a one-year deal. Recall in 2014, when Thornton’s three-year extension was already done for some time but he waited for Marleau’s to be signed before the team officially announced it.
In other words, relax, Thornton supporters. Joe is back.
I do find it interesting that Thornton settled on a one-year deal, when I have to think there were multi-year offers on the table from other teams. One source on Friday said that the Sharks were offering Thornton a two-year deal so I would assume that the money was higher on a one-year deal than it would have been in a two-year offer (TSN’s Bob McKenzie expects Thornton’s salary for 2017-18 to be close to $6.5 million).
The one-year term also tells me that Thornton probably isn’t too concerned about that left knee operation he underwent just after the season ended. Doug Wilson has said multiple times that he expects Thornton to be ready by the start of training camp, and Thornton’s agent, John Thornton, has told me the same.
I tend to think, too, that Thornton – despite turning 38 today – can put up better numbers than he did last season when he had seven goals and 43 assists. The short summer, World Cup and silly condensed NHL schedule all took their toll on him.