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Friedman: Sharks took run at signing Stamkos

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The Sharks were reportedly one of four teams to secure an in-person meeting with the Lightning center.

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks took a run at Tampa Bay Lightning Center Steven Stamkos, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Friedman explains Doug Wilson’s reasoning in thought #7 of his latest edition of 30 Thoughts:

San Jose GM Doug Wilson declined comment, but it’s believed the Sharks took a run at Stamkos. Generally, Wilson avoids July 1 like the plague, believing more mistakes are made there than any other day. But, if you’re ever going to step up and take a swing, Stamkos is worth the shot. The Sharks’ cap situation is very good and sometime during Stamkos’s new contract, San Jose will have to replace Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton. It was a stealth move and I’d be curious to know how seriously the Lightning captain considered it.

There’s certainly a lot of interesting ramifications with this report. Although the Sharks do have a decent amount of cap space, signing Stamkos would have like meant San Jose needed to move one of it’s most expensive contracts to create more room. Given the rumors surrounding Patrick Marleau, it’s not a stretch to think they would have tried to find a taker for that contract.

But, I don’t think this necessarily means Marleau will be traded this offseason. Stamkos, before signing his extension yesterday, was clearly the best unrestricted free agent available this offseason. When a top 5 player becomes available, teams are willing to do thinks they likely wouldn’t be for the remainder of the free agent crop.

What I think this signals, as Friedman discusses, is that the Sharks are already starting to think about having to replace Marleau and Joe Thornton, and that Doug Wilson is willing to swing for the fences to do so. Wilson’s not afraid to make a big trade (Brent Burns and Joe Thornton come to mind), nor is he afraid to dip his feet into day 1 of free agency for the right players (as do Joel Ward and as does Paul Martin).

They will have to worry about Burns’ extension, but with Marleau and Thornton’s contracts off the books, the Sharks could be players in free agency as early as next year, and certainly in 2018.

As we saw this week, it’s one thing to talk to the crown jewel of free agency, as Jamie Benn and John Tavares are in 2017 and 2018, respectively. But, it’s another thing entirely to successfully pry them away.

Being in the conversation, though? That’s really all you can ask for.