The big questions reporters seemed to ask veterans Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau when in the locker room Saturday after the San Jose Sharks had been eliminated in Game 6 of the playoffs first-round series was whether this was their last games as Sharks. The questions are justified. The Sharks boast one of the oldest cores in the NHL and couldn’t even win at home when they needed it.
Both Thornton and Marleau are both unrestricted free agents and have the option to look elsewhere this offseason. The two are both 37 years old, but are still going strong. Thornton finished with seven goals, but 43 assists this season for 50 points. Marleau is coming off a year in which he scored 27 goals to go with 19 assists for 46 points.
Despite their value, the question remains is the Sharks’ plan working? The knockout by a young Edmonton team that looks like it might control the Western Conference for a while with Connor McDavid and company may force San Jose to consider other options during the offseason.
NBC Sports Ray Ratto suggests this might be the end. The writer suggests the window has already closed and if it wasn’t for the team’s phenomenal playoff run last year that took them to the Stanley Cup Finals, it might have ended even earlier. Both veterans were still under contract a year ago, but as free agents, their demand will be high and their price tags will not come cheap. Many teams that are much closer to a Stanley Cup would love to add either veteran.
The team also must factor in the expansion draft as well. It is loaded with defensemen, so the team is likely to use the four forward, four defensemen and a goalie strategy. Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Dylan DeMelo and Brenden Dillon are likely keepers on defense. At forward, the team will likely keep Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and youngster Tomas Hertl and will have to make a hard decision from there for that final spot. Goaltender Martin Jones is an obvious keeper.
- Boston Bruins center David Krejci will not play in Game 6 today. The veteran center went down with a lower body injury in the first period of Friday’s Game 5 and never returned. He is out for today. Left wing Matt Beleskey will replace him, which will likely force a wing to move to the center position.
- The St. Louis Blues have assigned Jordan Schmaltz to the Chicago Wolves. Schmaltz is the Blues’ seventh defenseman and was sent down earlier last week to help the Wolves’ playoff run and now returns. 22-year-old Tommy Vannelli was promoted in his place. This will be the defenseman’s first call-up to the big-league club.