The free agency is now less than six weeks away and many teams are already looking forward to its opening date. There will be many high-profile players set to enter the open market in mid-July, while many teams have major free agents restricted to re-sign as well. Next is a look at the sharks.
Main Restricted Free Agents
- J Kapo Kahkkonen – Kahkonen was acquired from Minnesota Wild on Deadline Trade as part of Jacob Middleton trade, and Kahkonen did reasonably well as he began to take on a more prominent role late in the shark season. Kahkonen finished with ten starts in San Jose and scored 0.916 savings. When combined with his 23 starts as a member of the Minnesota Wild, Kahkonen’s 2021-22 total savings ratio is 0.912, an encouraging sign for the goalkeeper who isn’t set to turn 26 until mid-August. The Sharks will have to make this decision in the off-season, as once Kahkonen is re-signed, they will have three NHL-caliber goalkeepers under contract (Kahkonen, Adin HillAnd the James Reimer), and is unlikely to spend an entire season with a group of three guards.
For Kahkonen’s next contract, he has arbitration rights as an RFA which means he has at least some negotiating power in deciding his future. A bridge deal of around 2mm to 3mm could make sense, although there is an interesting contract to compare that can be annoying if the sharks want to keep the Kahkonen on the cheap. Los Angeles Kings goalkeeper Calvin Petersen, in a similar RFA position to Kahkonen, at a similar age, signed a three-year contract with the Kings at a price of US$5 million. Petersen’s numbers compared to Kahkonen’s are similar: When he signed his contract, Petersen was coming off a season with 0.911 saves and 2.89 goals-to-average in 32 starts, while Kahkonen is entering his time as RFA with a. 912 / 2.87 in 33 starts. They are basically identical numbers, the only major difference being that Petersen started 32 games in the short 2020-21 season, so his scores represented a larger share of the games available to the goalkeeper. Given the similarity in his numbers, Kahkkonen could ask for a similar contract to Petersen, and thus likely make negotiations more difficult for the sharks.
- F Noah Gregor Gregor has been a solid discovery for the Sharks as a 2016 fourth-round pick, developing from his time as a WHL superstar to the two-way forward he was last season. Gregor played two-way hockey and became an increasingly reliable coach’s weapon Bob Bogner, to finish the season with less than 15 minutes of average time on the ice. Gregor hasn’t confused his output, but his eight goals and 23 points in 63 games are good enough, and his solid AHL-level scoring suggests he may have more humiliation as he becomes more comfortable in front of the NHL competition. While long-term deals for players with limited NHL experience are becoming more common (Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Zack Whitecloud(for example, she took a $2.75 million long-term AAV deal and has less than a full season of NHL experience) a short-term bridge deal is the most likely outcome for Gregor. Gregor has worked out a max of $750,000 this year so expect an increase but nothing significant because Gregor doesn’t have arbitration rights yet and the sharks will be hard-pressed for roof space.
- Dr Mario Ferraro Ferraro has become an increasingly important defensive player in San Jose and just finished a season averaging 23 minutes on the ice per game. His insults aren’t something to write home about – just 14 points in 63 games – but it’s his drive, body and overall defensive play that makes him such an important part of the Sharks lineup. There is some debate about Ferraro’s true overall skill level and if his time on the ice truly reflects his value, but the sharks clearly value him highly and that’s ultimately all that matters in the contract negotiations. The Sharks could opt for a long-term deal with Ferraro, but since they believe they have some cap issues and are intent on competing in the near future, a bridge deal seems more likely.
Other RFA’s: Jonathan DahlinAnd the Alexander ShmelevskyAnd the Jonah GadjovichAnd the John LeonardAnd the Nicholas MiloszAnd the Joachim BleichfeldAnd the Zachary GalantAnd the Jacob McGrawAnd the Antoine MorandAnd the Brinson PassionnockAnd the Zach Sauchenko
Unrestricted Master Free Agents
Unfettered free agents of sharks from any consequences are Anthony PettitoAnd the Ryan DsingelAnd the Alex Stalock, three players combined to play seven total games for the Sharks last season. While Bitetto, Dzingel, and Stalock are all NHL veterans, they don’t play a major role in San Jose’s forward move even if he is re-signed.
Expected maximum space
This is where things get suspicious for San Jose. The Sharks are currently expected to have only $5.67 million in the cover room to start this season, and since they have NHL-caliber RFA re-signs in Ferraro, Dahlen, Kahkonen and Gregor, as well as intent to significantly improve their roster, that’s not enough room. To make the moves the next GM is likely to want to make. Great contracts for players like Eric CarlsonAnd the Brent BurnsAnd the Logan CoutureAnd the Mark Edward Vlasic means that finding the necessary maneuvering space will require tremendous creativity, and their precarious hood placement is further complicated by the uncertainty in Evander King The situation, as the deliberations on his grievance have not yet been concluded. Buying a Vlasic, trading a high-paying player, or even doing a moderate deal with a player like Reimer would go a long way to making way for San Jose to work. Whatever path they choose, they will obviously have to take it Something In order to create the necessary breathing room under the salary cap, they must return to the dispute.
Images courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Contract information courtesy of hatfriendly.