Sharks

Three players the Sharks might have to trade to clear salary-cap space

Three players the Sharks might have to trade to clear salary-cap space

The first few days of NHL free agency have been long and emotional for the Sharks. But there is far more work that needs to be done before the end of the summer.

San Jose still has 16 players on its free agent docket with a roster that needs to be filled out and just $6,382,583 in cap space, according to CapFriendly. If the Sharks are going to sign Kevin Labanc, Dylan Gambrell and Joe Thornton, they're going to have to make some moves -- even if it means making another Justin Braun-style trade that gets rid of a familiar face for the sake of creating cap space.

Here's a look at a few current Sharks who have been mentioned in trade rumors this summer, and the overall likelihood they'll be on the move as the team searches for relief under the salary cap.

Melker Karlsson, Forward

The Swedish winger long has been a favorite of Peter DeBoer. He's a player that the Sharks' coach feels comfortable moving throughout the lineup to try and create offense and is a familiar face on San Jose's penalty kill.

But Karlsson could be a player that gets moved, given he's entering the final year of his current contract and carries a $2 million hit against the salary cap.

The Sharks also need to improve their fourth line, which was in constant flux throughout the 2018-19 campaign. San Jose has yet to sign Gambrell -- a restricted free-agent -- who could compete for the job of fourth-line center following a productive showing in 2018-19. As much as DeBoer likes having Karlsson in his lineup, he might be on the way out before the summer is over.

Aaron Dell, Goaltender

The backup netminder's name has been floated around as a potential trade piece for a good chunk of the offseason. Moving Dell would, in fact, make sense for the Sharks, given he only has one year remaining on his current contract which carries a $1.9 million cap hit. If the 30-year-old goaltender departed, it would clear the way for one of the San Jose Barracuda's promising goalies to have the opportunity to back up Martin Jones.

The only problem here, as you probably already figured out, is that Dell's numbers last season weren't very good. Much like Jones, Dell's performance took a dip in the 2018-19 regular season and he ended with a 3.17 goals-against average and .886 save percentage.

For the Sharks to successfully trade Dell, they'll probably have to offer something else to sweeten the deal.

[RELATED: How Pavelski's exit opens the door for Meier, young Sharks]

Brenden Dillon, Defenseman

Of all the Sharks that have been connected to trade rumors this summer, this one actually seems like the least likely. If San Jose needs to free up as much space as possible, it might prove necessary.

Sure, it makes sense from a money standpoint. Dillon is entering the final year of his contract, which carries a $3.27 million cap hit. But getting rid of the 28-year-old blueliner who led the team in plus-minus last season would leave a gigantic hole in San Jose's d-corps that would be very difficult to fill. Just look at how effective Dillon was playing alongside Erik Karlsson last season.

Plus, it would leave San Jose without a left-handed defenseman. While the team is grooming Jacob Middleton to play a bigger role at the NHL level next season, he probably isn't ready to take on that much playing time.

Despite being linked to rumors this offseason, trading Dillon carries the biggest risk.

Sharks have Martin Jones to thank for keeping winning streak alive

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USATSI

Sharks have Martin Jones to thank for keeping winning streak alive

SAN JOSE -- The SAP Center crowd was on the edge of its seats during overtime play as Brent Burns went to the box for tripping and the Sharks went on the penalty kill. 

But goaltender Martin Jones was there to keep the game moving right along, making stop after stop against the Red Wings and giving San Jose the boost it needed to get to the shootout and tally its sixth straight victory.

On a night when the Sharks weren't at their best, Jones was -- as head coach Peter DeBoer aptly put it -- San Jose's "best player." And this certainly wasn't the first time this month that he came up with some big saves at a very big moment.

Without Jones playing at the level he has been over the last few contests, the Sharks might not finally be climbing out of their early-season hole.

"When he can steal games like that, it's huge for us," Kevin Labanc said. "He had an unbelievable game today and that's why he's the goalie that he is. We have a lot of faith in him and he's winning us games right now."

Jones' work on the penalty kill was just one highlight of his performance from Saturday night. He was steady as Detroit's offense picked up steam and used its speed to wedge into San Jose's zone. Jones was quick to save some of the Red Wings' best shots, most notably a Brandon Perlini attempt that he batted out of the crease with his outstretched right leg. He then topped it off by completely stymying Detroit's top scorers in the shootout.

"A big reason we got the two points was him tonight," captain Logan Couture said of Jones. "He made massive saves. You think of that penalty kill, that save in the second there which was huge, big saves in the third that he made. He's playing great. And then the shootout -- he's been unbelievable in the shootout so far."

Considering the rough start Jones had this season, one wonders if he has been doing something different recently in his preparation for games. But when asked postgame why he's been more successful lately, the netminder -- who is typically a pretty cool customer -- couldn't pinpoint where his current confidence is coming from.

"I have to play the game," Jones said. "I can't rely on making a big save early, sometimes that's just the way the game unfolds. I get confidence from practicing hard and making sure I'm focused on the details."

Granted, Jones' numbers on the season as a whole still aren't great. He's 8-7-1 through 16 starts and currently possesses an .889 save percentage. Even over the course fo San Jose's current six-game winning streak, he's sitting on an .891 save percentage. While the team in front of Jones obviously is scoring enough goals to win games and piggyback on his big saves, it still needs to give him a little more help.

"I still think we can be tighter and better defensively," Couture critiqued. "Too many grade-As in our slot and breakaways. So we'll tighten up on that."

[RELATED: What we learned as Sharks beat Red Wings in shootout]

But the Sharks aren't going to scoff at another win, especially if it comes at the hands of a big performance from their goalie.

"When you're putting together a winning streak, you're going to have to win all kinds of different ways," DeBoer said. "You're going to put some really solid games together, and then you're going to win some like this where you've got a couple of guys with big performances."

In this case, Jones' performance is what kept the winning streak alive.

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 4-3 shootout win over Red Wings

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AP

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 4-3 shootout win over Red Wings

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- Another night, another Sharks’ win.

San Jose certainly didn’t make things easy on itself against the Red Wings at SAP Center on Saturday night, and although the Sharks jumped out to an early lead, Detroit bounced back from two deficits and forced the contest into overtime. Kevin Labanc, though, played the hero with the lone marker in the shootout to clinch a 4-3 victory and extend Team Teal's winning streak to six games.

Here are three takeaways from Saturday's exciting win:

Jones comes up big

Martin Jones deserves credit for his solid play throughout the month of November, and San Jose's goaltender had another good start against Detroit. The Red Wings picked up speed over the course of the game and outshot the Sharks, but Jones was a steady presence throughout. Taro Hirose's second-period goal that tied the game 2-2 wasn't his fault and, frankly, he didn’t get much help from the defense when Andreas Athanasiou tied it up 3-3 late in the third period either.

One of Jones' best saves of the night actually came just before that Hirose goal when he made a huge kick save on Brandon Perlini that narrowly missed dribbling into the net. Although, to be fair, his blocker saves when San Jose went on the penalty kill in overtime were equally impressive.

If Jones continues making big saves like that on a nightly basis, the Sharks' fortunes will continue to turn for the better. 

Still in search of that four-line game 

The Sharks have been an improved even-strength team since the start of the month, but against the Red Wings, the forward attack didn't look as deep as it has on other nights. Labanc and Logan Couture did their fair share of the heavy lifting on the top line, as evidenced by Labanc's first-period goal and Couture's three assists on the evening. 

But other than that, San Jose's lines didn't generate much against a Red Wings team that doesn't have much forward depth itself. With two big divisional games coming up next week against the Oilers and the Golden Knights, the Sharks need more players to start producing on a regular basis. There's no way around it.

[RELATED: Thornton discusses importance of fitness in HEADSTRONG]

On a positive note ...

Keep the big hits coming 

One of San Jose's top concerns heading into Saturday's game was being able to contain Detroit's speed. When the Wings did manage to break into the Sharks' defensive zone, San Jose did a good job of imposing its physicality and breaking up plays. Through the first two periods, the Sharks out-hit the Red Wings 10-5.

While San Jose still needs to work on taking more of the center of the ice away from the opposition, that's the kind of heavy game the Sharks must play regardless of how fast or physical the opponent is. If they can build off that performance, the wins will keep on coming.