[Update]: Craig Custance of the Sporting News is reporting that Couture's contract will be very similar to James Neal's recent deal, worth $5.75MM over two years, with a $2.875MM annual cap hit. Capgeek.com has confirmed this and indicates that Couture will make $2.75MM in year one and $3MM in year two of the deal.
According to CSN Insider Ray Rattocenter and Calder Trophy runner-up has inked a two year contract extension. As of this posting the dollar amount has not been released. Expect those numbers to become public by Friday afternoon.
Couture was a standout player for the Sharks last season, posting 32 goals and 24 assists in 79 games played. He finished first amongst forwards in +/- (+18) and third amongst forwards in shots on net (253), meshing extremely well with linematethroughout the year. Throughout the first half of the season Couture and Clowe carried the Sharks offensively as the team struggled to find consistency in their play, taking a leadership role in the locker room that was impressive considering his rookie status. Couture was always one of the first players to call out the team for not playing well, but most importantly, never failed to direct the majority of his critiques towards himself.
All at the age of 22. Not too shabby.
Couture's extension will carry him to the 2015 offseason, sticking with the contract pattern Doug Wilson has exhibited over the last two years when building his roster via free agency and trade. Couture,, , , and will all hit the free agent that offseason, setting the stage for what will be an extremely interesting summer. Only Couture will be a RFA that year, with all of the aforementioned players holding UFA status. This method is no coincidence-- both and , who were traded in separate deals this summer for and respectively, either signed or were signed to contracts that carried them up to that offseason as well.
Considering San Jose's prospect pipeline is currently ranked 30th by Hockey Prospectus and 25th by Hockey's Future (pre-Coyle trade), it's safe to say that Stanley Cup window is something that ownership and hockey ops will be focusing on quite intently over the next three years.
Couture's extension finishes up an extremely busy offseason for Sharks GM Doug Wilson, one that has to be considered the best he has had in San Jose. The blueline is phenomenal, the top-six forward group is excellent, and the goaltending boasts a tandem of Finns that are familiar with the starting role, with second half Team MVPbeing the clear cut starter going into camp.
Next offseason will have no major decisions from a free agency perspective. Only, , , and will be UFA's in 2012, with the remainder of current roster players either signed or holding RFA status. Cap space in 2012-2013 may be a little snug depending on the price of Couture's contract, but it is far from unworkable; considering the fact that all major pieces will be firmly in place, San Jose should be in a similar position to where they were this offseason in terms of flexibility.
Although official word on the dollar amount has not been reported, the Sharks have a history of getting first time RFA's fresh off their Entry Level Contracts at bargain prices. Considering the length of Couture's contract, his RFA status, and the historical compensation given to RFA's of this nature by Doug Wilson, I'm expecting Couture's new contract to come in at around $2.85 MM per year.
We will update this post throughout the day as more news breaks.