Sharks

Sharks re-sign young centers Dylan Gambrell, Antti Suomela to contracts

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Sharks re-sign young centers Dylan Gambrell, Antti Suomela to contracts

The Sharks continued to fill out their roster for next season Thursday, re-signing a pair of restricted free-agent forwards who could be in the mix for more playing time next season and reportedly locking up their remainder of their restricted free agents as well.

San Jose re-signed forwards Dylan Gambrell and Antti Suomela to two- and one-year contracts, respectively, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson announced Thursday. They reportedly also signed blue liners Nick DeSimone and Kyle Wood, as well as forward Maxim Letunov, according to Cap Friendly.

The Sharks did not disclose contract terms for Gambrell and Suomela, per club policy, but each deal reportedly is worth $700,000 annually, Bay Area News Group's Curtis Pashelka reported. 

Gambrell's contract reportedly is a two-way deal -- meaning he will be played less if sent down to the minors -- in the first year and a one-way in the second, according to Fear the Fin's Sheng Peng. 

Gambrell, 22, played eight regular-season games with the Sharks in 2018-19 and two more in the playoffs. He scored his first NHL goal in Game 6 of the Western Conference final against the St. Louis Blues, and should be in the mix for a regular role on the fourth line following San Jose's offseason departures up front. A second-round pick in 2016, Gambrell also scored 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists) in 40 games with the AHL's San Jose Barracuda. 

"Dylan had success at the AHL level with the Barracuda this past season, helping to lead the league's youngest team to another Calder Cup playoff berth," Wilson said in a statement. "He has continued to show us growth in all areas of his game, and, with his goal in Game 6 of the Western Conference final, has proven he can handle the pressure of the NHL. We look forward to his continued development, and the impact he will have on the Sharks."

Suomela, 25, ended training camp last season as the Sharks' presumptive third-line center, flanked by Joonas Donskoi and Evander Kane. The Finnish forward played in 27 of the Sharks' first 30 games and scored eight points (three goals, five assists), but was sent down to the Barracuda on Dec. 11 and did not return to the NHL. He scored 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 34 AHL games. 

"Antti will be looking to build off of his first year in North America and we are excited to see where he takes his game this coming season," Wilson said in a statement. "He has shown that he can adjust his game to the smaller rink and we are looking forward to him competing for a spot on our NHL roster this season."

DeSimone, 24, is yet to make his NHL debut but scored 46 points (14 goals, 32 assists) in 65 AHL games last season. The right-shooting defenseman, whom the Sharks signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017, tied for sixth among AHL blue liners in points and seventh in goals, and was recalled in a couple of instances when the Sharks needed an extra defenseman due to injuries. The Sharks re-signed Tim Heed and signed Dalton Prout to one-year deals, so the right side of defense appears set behind Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson. But, DeSimone could be in the mix for an in-season call-up.

Wood and Letunov, 23, both are coming off of their first seasons with the Barracuda. Both players were acquired in separate trades with the Arizona Coyotes, and Wood scored 35 points (six goals, 29 assists) from the Barracuda's blue line last season. Letunov, who played three seasons at the University of Connecticut, scored 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in his first pro season last year. 

[RELATED: Are rival Kings any better after free agency?]

With all players reportedly locked in for the league-minimum salary, the Sharks maintain salary-cap flexibility no matter how their training-camp competitions shake out. With each of his restricted free agents now under contract, Wilson can shift his attention to re-signing Joe Thornton. 

San Jose currently has just under $4.7 million remaining in cap space, according to Cap Friendly. Thornton's contract was worth $5 million last season, but Wilson said the 39-year-old was willing to take less than he ultimately signed for in each of the last two years if it meant the Sharks retained Patrick Marleau in 2017 and signed John Tavares in 2018. Marleau is now a free agent after the Carolina Hurricanes bought out the final year of his contract following a trade from the cap-crunched Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Sharks would appear to have enough room to reunite Marleau and Thornton. 

Sharks' return in Brenden Dillon trade leaves something to be desired

Sharks' return in Brenden Dillon trade leaves something to be desired

The wait is over. Brenden Dillon has been traded from the Sharks to the Washington Capitals.

After weeks of being one of the most prominent names mentioned in trade rumors, Dillon got some clarity about his playing career Tuesday when San Jose traded him to the Capitals, who currently sit in first place in the Eastern Conference. In exchange for the rugged defenseman, the Sharks receive the Colorado Avalanche's 2020 second-round draft pick and a conditional 2021 third-round draft pick.

According to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun, San Jose will get the Arizona Coyotes' 2020 third-round draft pick if Dillon and the Capitals go on to win the Stanley Cup this season. In the event they don't, the Sharks instead will get Washington's 2021 third-round draft pick.

So, the Sharks get a second and third-round draft pick for their pending unrestricted free agent. It's just a matter of when that third-rounder is conveyed, and from which team.

LeBrun reported that San Jose had remained consistent with its asking price for Dillon throughout the past week, and apparently, the Capitals were the first to meet it. Two fairly high draft picks for a rental is a pretty sizeable haul for the Sharks, and that return will prove very helpful in reloading their cupboard of assets. That said, it's fair to wonder if San Jose might have been able to get more in return for one of the best defensemen available at the NHL trade deadline.

On TSN's Trade Tracker, Dillon was listed as the No. 4 player overall and No. 2 defenseman on the big board. On The Athletic's NHL Trade Big Board, he was ranked as the No. 7 player overall and the third-highest rated defenseman. On The Fourth Period's Trade Watch List, he was ranked No. 6 and No. 3, respectively. On each and every one of those sites, Dillon was rated considerably higher than Andy Greene, Dylan DeMelo and Marco Scandella, all defensemen who 1) also have been traded within the last 72 hours, 2) are pending unrestricted free agents, and 3) brought back very similar returns.

For the 37-year-old Greene, the New York Islanders traded their 2021 second-round draft pick and prospect David Quenneville to the New Jersey Devils. Dillon not only is eight years younger than Greene, but has been a considerably better performer this season. Dillon's Corsi (47.51) and Fenwick (46.84) percentages -- which calculate the percentage of total and unblocked shot attempts while that player is on the ice for that player's team -- are significantly superior to the elder Greene's (40.35 percent; 41.95 percent). Greene was the Devils' captain, however, and that likely had something to do with New Jersey getting what it did for him.

While DeMelo (26 years old) and Scandella (turns 30 years old Sunday) both are much closer to Dillon's age and measure up better in both Corsi and Fenwick percentages this season, there's no question as to which of the three is the best player. Yet, the Ottawa Senators fetched a 2020 third-round draft pick from the Winnipeg Jets for DeMelo, and the Montreal Canadiens got a 2020 second-round and 2021 conditional fourth-round pick from the St. Louis Blues for Scandella -- whom Montreal traded a 2020 fourth-round draft pick to the Buffalo Sabres to acquire last month.

While Dillon's annual cap hit ($3.27 million) is considerably more expensive than DeMelo's ($900,000), it's actually cheaper than both Scandella's ($4 million) and Greene's ($5 million). When you consider San Jose retained 50 percent of Dillon's cap hit in the deal with Washington -- meaning the Capitals are taking on only $735,000 more salary against the cap for Dillon than the Jets are for DeMelo -- it begs the question as to if the Sharks maximized value in their return.

[RELATED: Report: Execs believe Jumbo trade to Bruins or Avs fits]

Don't get me wrong. The draft picks are very much needed, and certainly more useful to San Jose's future than Dillon will be, as re-signing the defenseman on the open market remains a long shot. The Sharks need to get whatever they can for players that will be of more use to them elsewhere, and the fact that Dillon wasn't traded until Tuesday after weeks (months?) of speculation could lead one to believe that a better offer wasn't available, nor was there going to be one. Still, given what some other teams got in return for worse defensemen, it leaves something to be desired.

Programming Note: The "2020 NHL Trade Deadline Show" is coming your way this Monday at 11:30am on the MyTeams app and on NBCSportsBayArea.com! How will the Sharks be impacted heading into the Noon deadline? Don’t miss it!

NHL rumors: Execs believe Joe Thornton trade to Bruins, Avalanche fits

NHL rumors: Execs believe Joe Thornton trade to Bruins, Avalanche fits

The Sharks already have begun wheeling and dealing ahead of the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline. 

San Jose traded defenseman Brenden Dillon to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday for a 2020 second-round draft pick (Colorado's previously acquired by Washington) and a third-round draft pick in either 2020 or 2021. And Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is expected to stay busy before the deadline. 

The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported Sunday that "the belief is Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has put up the “For Sale” sign and is trying to move as many pieces as possible before the deadline." All eyes now are on a franchise icon. 

Will the Sharks trade Joe Thornton to give him a better chance at finally winning a championship? It sounds like they might be leaning that way. 

"He has a full 'no move' clause, but the Sharks would like to give him the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup," Garrioch wrote. "If he’s going to be dealt, then league executives believe he’ll only go to a team that has a chance to win, so the Colorado Avalanche and Boston Bruins are both viewed as good fits." 

The Bruins (37-11-12) lead the NHL in points (86) and are the top team in Eastern Conference. The Avalanche (33-18-7) are third in the Western Conference with 73 points. 

Thornton, 40, spent his first seven-and-a-half seasons with the Bruins before the Sharks acquired him from Boston in November 2005. He won both the Art Ross Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy that season. 

The center has scored 25 points -- two goals and 23 points -- over 59 games this season. Thornton is the active leader in points with 1,503 and currently ranks 14th in NHL history in that category. 

[RELATED: How Sharks can benefit from injuries at NHL trade deadline]

The Sharks (26-29-4) have the third-worst record in the Western Conference. It would be no surprise if they have more moves to come, but would San Jose really trade its all-time assists leader in what possibly could his final season in the NHL?

With less than a week to go before the trade deadline, there will be plenty of attention on Wilson and what he does with a legend in San Jose.

Programming Note: The "2020 NHL Trade Deadline Show" is coming your way this Monday at 11:30am on the MyTeams app and on NBCSportsBayArea.com! How will the Sharks be impacted heading into the Noon deadline? Don’t miss it!