The San Jose Sharks were just 48 hours away from going to an arbitration hearing with Chris Tierney, but have found some common ground and a new contract. According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the two sides have settled on a two-year contract that carries an average annual value of $2,937,500.
Tierney, 24, is coming off his best season as a professional after scoring 17 goals and 40 points with the Sharks last season. Originally selected in the second round six years ago, he’s developed into an effective all-situations center for San Jose and saw his ice time increase to 16 minutes a night this season. With Joe Thornton coming back on a one-year deal, Tierney will likely be asked once again to center the third line for the Sharks and continue to give them excellent penalty killing and secondary scoring.
Interestingly, the two-year contract will leave Tierney as a restricted free agent at its conclusion in the summer of 2020. That leaves the Sharks with some time to decide whether he’s a long-term fit for the club, and gives him a chance to prove that he’s more than just a bottom-six player. If Tierney continues to trend upwards offensively, his next contract could be quite lucrative as it would be buying out almost exclusively unrestricted free agent years. Even if he sits at around 40 points for the next two seasons, that will be enough to land him an impressive contract given his position and relative youth.
For now, his sub-$3MM deal will fit nicely in for a team that missed out on some of the summer’s big names. After failing to convince John Tavares to come to the west coast, the team brought back Thornton on a $5MM deal and signed Logan Couture to a long-term extension. With Tierney—their final restricted free agent—now signed, the team still has almost $4.4MM in cap space to make an addition through trade if they choose. Whether that comes this summer or during the season isn’t clear, but the team has set themselves up to be players in almost any trade talks that may arise.