7/13: The Sharks have officially announced the contract.
7/11: It may not be the fireworks that some Sharks fans are waiting for, but the team has brought back a dependable player for the 2017-18 campaign. TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reports that Chris Tierney, San Jose’s young two-way center, has signed his qualifying offer. The restricted free agent will return to the Sharks on a one-year, one-way contract worth $735K. Tierney will be an RFA again next summer, but has bought himself another year to prove that he is a worthy of a long-term contract, while also keeping the Sharks’ cap flexibility intact so that they can add more talent up front before next season.
Tierney, 23, was San Jose’s second-round selection back in 2012 out of the OHL’s London Knights. After a prolific junior career, he joined the Sharks for the 2014-15 season and immediately carved out a role for himself as a two-way center. A true 200-foot player, Tierney is consistent with his scoring, notching between 20 and 23 points in each of his first three seasons, and is clutch with his offense as well, with several game-winners in his young career and an impressive nine points and +8 rating during the Sharks’ run to the Stanley Cup in 2015-16. Given his moderate ice time, 13 to 14 minutes per night on the fourth line, Tierney’s modest production is more impressive than it may seem. However, where Tierney really excels is in his own end. The team’s checking line center, Tierney has developed great two-way instincts, is an adept shot-blocker, and led all Sharks last year in takeaways per 60 minutes.
Yet, this new contract does bring with it plenty of questions. Why was a valuable, young defensive forward forced to sign his lowly one-year qualifying offer? The only explanation is that one side or the other wanted that deal, otherwise one would think that a longer contract worth closer to Tierney’s true value could have been agreed upon, like many of those signed by restricted free agents in the past week or so. Perhaps the Sharks did not offer Tierney anything more than the qualifying offer, or maybe he is unhappy in San Jose and only wanted to sign on for one year at a time. Either way, this contract (and any possible underlying discontent) could make Tierney trade bait this summer as the Sharks look to improve their offense. Stay tuned.