Update from Fear The Fin:
Heading into this offseason, Doug Wilson's top two priorities were plain for most to see-- sign Joe Pavelski to a multi-year deal, and see if a dollar amount could be reached with Patrick Marleau that was beneficial for both sides.
And as the news dropped today, it became clear that the organization had found those magic numbers. Joe Pavelski inked a four year deal worth $4.0MM per, and Patrick Marleau signed a four year deal as well, coming in at a $6.9MM cap hit annually.
"We are very pleased that Patty and Joe have committed to this organization now and in the future," Doug Wilson told sjsharks.com. "They expressed a strong belief in the direction this franchise is heading but also understand the challenges to keeping a talented group like ours together."
Keeping that core group together has been a priority for the organization following a successful playoff run to the 2010 Western Conference Finals. Fighting through some major setbacks against Colorado that saw two fluke goals go against San Jose throughout the series, and dispatching the arch nemesis Detroit Red Wings in a mere five games, the Sharks were poised to make a statement and finally break through to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
Chicago had something to say about that however, dispatching the Sharks in four. Although ten years from now the record books will callously indicate that a sweep abruptly ripped the dreams out of an entire city, the series was much closer than it appeared-- San Jose competed hard for the majority of the time, and a bounce here or there could have tilted the tables in the Sharks direction.
With the core locked up under contract, the attention now turns towards the compensation both Marleau and Pavelski received in these deals, and what that means for both the near and long-term future. We had previously slotted Pavelski in the $4.2-$4.5MM range after looking at some market comparables-- for him to sign a four year deal at $4.0MM flat is a great success for the organization, locking up one of the best young two-way centers in the game today until his 29th birthday. The penalty kill, powerplay, and even strength contributions Pavelski brings to the table are well worth that type of money.
Marleau's contract at $6.9MM is one that, at face value, seems to be on the high side when many were hoping for a long frontloaded deal that would extend to eight years at $5.0MM. But with Doug Wilson staunchly opposing these types of contracts due to the fact that they violate the intended nature of the CBA, it's likely that this type of contract was never on the table. It's hard to say Marleau isn't worth that type of money considering his all around prowess, and along with the 44 goals he scored this season, you're paying market value for a player who deserves to be compensated as such.
It's not a hometown discount persay, but when coupled with Pavelski's contract, Doug Wilson definitely had a successful day just twenty four hours before the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
With the NHL salary cap announced to be $59.4MM next season, San Jose currently has $12.225MM to work with when attempting to sign four forwards, one defenseman, and a goaltender. Restricted Free Agent Devin Setoguchi still requires a contract, and with most estimates pegging him in the $3.0-$3.5MM range after seeing Pavelski's compensation, that number will be cut to around roughly $9.0MM for three forwards, one defenseman, and a goaltender.
Provided a pair of young players from Worcester (McLaren, Ferriero) make the roster, along with an unrestricted free agent such as Scott Nichol, the Sharks would be left with around $7.0MM to land a top-pairing defenseman such as Paul Martin, and shore up the goaltending position considering long-time goaltender Evgeni Nabokov will not be returning. It's more than enough money to do so, and unlike last season, will not require a trade to get under considering the bump in the cap ceiling.
However, for a player such as Manny Malhotra to return in this scenario (who should make around $2.0MM per), trading away a roster player could be required if the Sharks wish to bring in some major defensive help. Ryane Clowe is the name that always comes to mind in this situation, but it's unlikely he would be dealt until after July 1st when Wilson has had a crack at the free agent market.
All in all, the Sharks have proved once again why they are a consistently successful organization. Although the team currently has $21.6MM locked up in their big three forwards, with Dan Boyle also making $6.66MM per year, the time to compete for the Cup is now. Joe Thornton's contract expires next season, but after that, the remaining three players are all under contract until 2014.
The implication? San Jose arguably still has a four year window to compete for the Stanley Cup. Taking into account the regular season muscle they have flexed during the last five years, that makes a decade of being in a position to legimately contend on hockey's grandest stage.
Hard to say Wilson isn't one of the better GM's in the game today.