After signing Tommy Wingels to a three-year deal, the Sharks have locked up their final restricted free agent forward James Sheppard to a one-year, $1.3 million contract. Sheppard scored 4 goals and 20 points in 67 regular season games for the Sharks before following that up with a pair of goals and four assists in seven playoff games against Los Angeles.
For lack of a better word, Sheppard's first full season in teal was weird. He was an effective driver of play at left wing on the third and fourth lines for the first half of the season but had a tough time staying in the lineup, likely due to a lack of production. He ended up solidifying a spot when given a chance to center the third line following the Olympic break and had a very productive stint in that role. Unfortunately, Sheppard was also a mess defensively at center (and there's reason to believe his production there was little more than a mirage). Where Todd McLellan and the Sharks' coaching staff opts to use Sheppard next season could have a big impact on the team's performance. If he remains the team's third-line center the Sharks will likely ice an ineffective bottom six. If he lines up at left wing on the fourth line, with either Joe Pavelski or Tomas Hertl centering the third, the Sharks can probably match up well against just about anyone.
Regardless, $1.3 million is a very reasonable cap hit for a useful bottom-six forward and leaves the Sharks with a little over $10.5 million in cap space to sign Jason Demers and make any other additions to their roster. As mentioned yesterday, San Jose now has 15 NHL forwards and it seems likely they'll try to move one or two of them, especially if Doug Wilson is as serious about giving the likes of Freddie Hamilton and Chris Tierney a legitimate shot at making the team out of camp as he's claimed to be.