Logan Couture

After missing out on Tavares, Sharks sign Logan Couture to eight-year extension

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USATSI

After missing out on Tavares, Sharks sign Logan Couture to eight-year extension

The Sharks made it official on Sunday, and officially signed center Logan Couture to an eight-year contract extension, San Jose general manager Doug Wilson announced. The team did not disclose terms of the deal, but it reportedly carries an $8 million cap hit. 

"Logan is a difference maker and has the proven ability to elevate his game when his team needs him the most," said GM Doug Wilson in a statement. "His leadership, on and off the ice, combined with his high skill level and hockey sense make him a crucial component to this team's success. We're thrilled that Logan has made this long-term commitment to the team and to the community."

The 29-year-old scored a career-high 34 goals (as well as 61 points) last season, and has scored at least 20 goals in all but one of his nine NHL seasons, each of which has been spent with the Sharks. He added another 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in the playoffs, leading the team in postseason scoring for the second time in the last three years. 

By Corsica Hockey's Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric, Couture ranked fourth among all players in 2017-18, only behind Connor McDavid, William Karlsson, and Nikita Kucherov. Over the last five seasons, only 10 skaters have contributed more WAR every 82 games, according to Corsica founder Emmannuel Perry. 

Couture is entering the final year of a five-year, $30 million that was signed ahead of the 2013-14 season and kicked in a year later. Should he finish out his extension, he will have played 18 seasons in San Jose, one shy of Patrick Marleau's franchise record. 

A first-round pick in 2007, Couture is the third Sharks players player to sign an eight-year extension before hitting unrestricted free agency in the last three years. Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic signed a year ago, and fellow blueliner Brent Burns signed in the middle of his Norris Trophy-winning season in November, 2016.

That's more than all but three teams, the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, and Los Angeles Kings, who have all signed three pending UFAs to eight-year deals. The Kings joined the club on Sunday, with the announcement of defenseman Drew Doughty's extension.

Report: Logan Couture expected to sign eight-year extension with Sharks

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AP

Report: Logan Couture expected to sign eight-year extension with Sharks

Update (6/30/18): The Sharks and Logan Couture have reportedly finalized an eight-year, $64 million contract extension, according to reports.

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The Sharks like to reward their own with long-term extensions and Logan Couture is set to be the next player to receive contractual security.

According to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic and TSN, the Sharks are expected to announce an eight-year contract extension for Couture this weekend.

Monetary details were not immediately known.

The 29-year-old Couture has one year left on his current five-year, $30 million deal.

Last offseason, the Sharks signed goalie Martin Jones to a six-year extension and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to an eight-year extension. This offseason, they gave forward Evander Kane a seven-year, $49 million deal. Brent Burns signed an eight-year, $64 million extension prior to the 2016 season.

Couture just finished his ninth season with the Sharks. In 78 games, he scored 34 goals and had 27 assists.

Last week, the NHL set the 2018-19 salary cap at $79.5 million, giving the Sharks roughly $19.2 million to spend this offseason. San Jose recently traded Mikkel Boedker and bought out Paul Martin's contract to free up $6.8 million in cap space.

Is Logan’s line the antidote to Golden Knights’ top trio?

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AP

Is Logan’s line the antidote to Golden Knights’ top trio?

In Game 4, the Sharks held the Vegas Golden Knights' top line of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith without a five-on-five point for the first time all series. It was also the first time since Game 1 of Vegas' first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings that all three players failed to score a point in any situation.

The trio didn't create many chances, either. With Karlsson, Marchessault, and Smith on the ice five-on-five, the Golden Knights generated four scoring chances and two high-danger chances in Game 4, according to Natural Stat Trick. They were out-chanced, too, for the first time since Game 1 against Los Angeles. 

Unsurprisingly, each member of Vegas' top line saw a lot of Justin Braun and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose's shutdown pairing. Karlsson, Marchessault, and Smith each played around 12 five-on-five minutes, and each spent about 10 of those minutes matched up against Braun and Vlasic. 

The forward matchups were a different story. During Game 3, the Golden Knights' top trio spent the majority of its ice time matched up with the top line of the Sharks: Joe Pavelski, Evander Kane, and Chris Tierney, filling in for an injured Joonas Donskoi. In Game 4, the split was more equitable between San Jose's first and second lines, and the latter started to close the gap against Vegas' first line. 

The table below shows Karlsson, Marchessault, and Smith's five-on-five scoring chance differentials against Mikkel Boedker, Logan Couture, and Tomas Hertl through the first three games of the series. It's not necessarily a perfect comparison, as the Sharks threw their lines in a blender chasing overtime-winners in Games 2 and 3, but it's still instructive. 

Courtesy of Natural Stat Trick
  vs 89 vs 39 vs 48
Karlsson +6 +8 +8
Marchessault +6 +8 +9
Smith +5 +7 +7

Now, here are what those differentials looked like in Game 4.

Courtesy of Natural Stat Trick
  vs 89 vs 39 vs 48
Karlsson -1 -2 -2
Marchessault -1 -2 -2
Smith -1 -2 -2

It's a one-game sample, but those are pretty noticeable improvements, and ones that the Sharks will need to continue in order to shut down the Golden Knights' primary source of five-on-five offense. Vegas' top line has scored half of the team's five-on-five goals (four), and five of the nine even-strength goals. Plus, now that Gerard Gallant will now have last change at his disposal in Game 5, it's likely that San Jose's second line will continue to see time against Karlsson, Marchessault, and Smith. 

Friday night will be a good indication of whether or not Boedker, Couture, and Hertl's performance against the Golden Knights' formidable first line was an aberration, or a turning point. The latter will go a long way towards the Sharks winning what is now a best-of-three.