San Jose forward Patrick Marleau has seen his stock rise in recent weeks after a relatively quiet start to the season. Accordingly, talk has turned as to whether or not the team will look to sign him beyond this season. As Curtis Pashelka of The Mercury News suggests though, a decision on that probably wouldn’t come until after the year. The same can be said for center Joe Thornton, another pending unrestricted free agent.
As is likely to be the case with a lot of potential UFAs in the next few months, the expansion draft will play a role. Neither veteran has a no-move clause so the Sharks could leave them exposed, allowing them to protect some other players. Then, after the draft is completed, they could look at giving them an extension. While it’s believed that Thornton is seeking a three year deal, there is no indication yet on how long of a contract that the 37 year old Marleau would be looking for.
Elsewhere in the Pacific:
- While the Flames are among the NHL leaders in spending on their blueline this season (and that doesn’t include Ladislav Smid’s $3.5MM on LTIR), they have a glaring weakness on their back end which is holding them back, argues Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun. Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, and Dougie Hamilton comprise a high-end top three but the team is lacking a quality number four to have that unit take another step forward. Recently, Deryk Engelland (who Francis reports the team would like to sign to a contract extension, likely after the expansion draft) has moved into a top four spot but he’s better suited as a third pairing option. Calgary may be able to add a rental player to help now but will probably have to wait until the offseason to add a player that would fill that role long-term.
- After faring relatively well in the second half last season due to an injury to Mike Smith, Coyotes goaltender Louis Domingue has struggled considerably so far this year, writes Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic. Among goalies to play at least 22 games this season, he has the lowest save percentage (.895) and the second highest goals against average (3.29). With Smith now healthy, Domingue’s playing time has dropped considerably which likely is contributing to the struggles. Goalie coach Jon Elkin suggests that his struggles are more from adapting to being a full-time NHL player for the first time. At any rate, with Arizona well out of the playoff picture, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the younger Domingue play more in the weeks ahead which should help turn his season around somewhat.