No One Wrong In Marleau Departure
An era has ended in San Jose where Patrick Marleau has played his last year in Teal. Marleau has joined the Toronto Maple Leafs for the next 3 years. Over the span of 19 seasons, Marleau played in 1493 games scoring 508 goals, 574 assists for 1082 points. He has served as the team’s captain and alternate captain as well as being the face of the franchise over that period. Losing a player of this stature even if he is at the age of 37 is difficult for fans. Most want to lash out and blame someone. Should that someone be Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson? Do we blame Patrick Marleau himself? I’d make the argument there is no one to blame, this is strictly business.
Not Marleau’s Fault
At face value the deal the Leafs gave Marleau was something that the Sharks couldn’t match. The 3-year deal worth a total of $18.750 M ($6.25 M AAV) and a full no-movement clause. As you dig deeper though it becomes hard to fault Marleau for taking this deal. The deal carries $14.5 M in signing bonus money, for those that don’t know signing bonus money is guaranteed and is not affected by escrow. Next year when the league collects escrow from the players Marleau will take that penalty based on $1.5 M of the $8.5 M he will make next season. The reason this is a win is that after escrow and taxes in Ontario, Canada you lose a significant amount of your salary. The second and third year of his deal will see him make $4.5 M and $3 M in bonus money.
One could also argue that the Leafs and Sharks are in two different places. The Leafs are a team on the rise while the Sharks are watching their window close. The rest of the teams in the Pacific are mostly improving while the Sharks tread water. Marleau will be a part of a core of exciting young players that he can keep up to with his speed. He also gets to play for Mike Babcock a coach who was the sole reason that Marleau was on the 2014 Sochi Olympic Team. There is a great deal of respect there while Marleau frequently had differences with Peter DeBoer on his usage.
Not Wilsons Fault
Doug Wilson has always been a target for the ire of Sharks fans but in this case, he made the right move. The Sharks are a team that is on the wrong side of father time and need to get younger. Matching the Leafs deal while making fans happy would have been wrong. It would have set the franchise back a bit. Will the Sharks be hard pressed to replace Marleau’s output? Definitely, sure there are guys on the market that could come close for a cost. Players like Alex Radulov, Illya Kovalchuk, and even Jaromir Jagr are still looking for deals in free agency. Matt Duchene can be had for some ridiculous price from Colorado.
Hearing that San Jose's final position with Marleau was that Sharks were willing to go $10 M over 2 yrs…
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 3, 2017
The Sharks could also save their cap money and replace the goals by committee, it’s not a perfect solution but its worth the risk. The are players that the Sharks have been counting on to take the next step. Maybe it’s time to force that step by forcing players to sink or swim to fill the void. If it fails the Sharks will still have room to make a deal.
Thornton picks up some money off the table
Joe Thornton officially signed his deal with the San Jose Sharks today rumored to initially be one year at $6.5 M it is officially a one year $8 M dollar deal. There is some definite sticker shock on that deal. Thornton, 38, suffered a serious knee injury last year and was not the fleetest of foot to start. Still, a significant portion of the Sharks offense goes through Thornton between the two Thornton was the more vital player to keep.
Much had been made about Marleau and Thornton being a package deal. While I never fully bought into that fully I could understand the concern that Shark fans had when Marleau signed in Toronto and Thornton was not signed. It would be fair to speculate that the reason no deal was signed yesterday was that there was likely two contracts drawn up. One that would see Thornton take a discount if Marleau returned, the other with Thornton picking up money left on the table. Again total speculation.
As of now, the Sharks have just over $10 M in cap space with only Chris Tierney unsigned to a deal as of yet. It will be interesting times in San Jose especially on October 30th, 2017 when for the first time in my adult life I’ll watch Patrick Marleau in another NHL sweater.