After months in a bubble, the NHL has its champion and now the league is rushing to wrap up the final threads of the season so that we can all stare into the open future and wait for Gary Bettman to tell us it’s time to start again. It seems a little silly to rush, but if the league is eyeing a potential December return, it starts to make sense.
Which puts us right into the thick of trade season, before the mad scramble of free agency.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson hasn’t made a major move so far, but in true Two-Phone Doug fashion, he’s been putting out feelers across the league. Here’s a collection of rumblings from the last few days:
San Jose will not buy out Martin Jones
Fans are ready to get rid of Martin Jones in the quickest way possible, but the buyout window opened on Friday Sept. 25 and Jones isn’t expected to have his contract bought out before it closes on October 8.
This means that Aaron Dell is likely to hit free agency on October 9, despite beating out Jones for the starting position during the 2019-20 season. As it stands, though, Jones is the more difficult piece to move and the Sharks need a starter better than either of Dell or Jones. Unless Wilson works magic at the draft, the Sharks will eat another of Jones’ four remaining years at $5.75 million.
Of course, a buyout would keep Jones on the payroll until 2028, so the hesitation isn’t unfounded.
Bought-out Bobby Ryan
Speaking of the buy-out window, the Ottawa Senators have used this time to get rid of the final two seasons of Bobby Ryan’s $7.25 million average annual value contract, making the winger an unrestricted free agent. Kevin Kurz of The Athletic reported that the Sharks were among the teams checking in with Ryan:
The Sharks are one of many teams believed to have checked in on free agent Bobby Ryan, I’m told. They could certainly use a right wing.— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) September 29, 2020
At 33 years old, Ryan’s best days are pretty well behind him. Even when he saw a bit of a boost in points during his 2018-19 campaign, his isolated impact since 2015 is pretty lackluster:
There is likely a team that is going to be willing to over-pay for Bobby Ryan and I don’t know that it should be the Sharks.
Deals with the Wild
They’re first mentioned as having asked about goaltender Devan Dubnyk. The Wild may be looking to ship out the veteran goaltender. Dubnyk has one year left on his contract, with a ridiculously specific cap hit of $4,333,333. In real dollars, his base salary for this year is only $2.5 million, the back end of a front-loaded contract, and that’s going to make him very attractive to a lot of teams who are facing internal spending limits thanks to the lack of revenue.
The Sharks, thanks to Hasso Plattner’s insane wealth, aren’t a team in that position. That makes them less desperate. They may lose out to teams willing to do more out of that desperation — even if Minnesota is limited by a 19-team trade list.
Another team potentially involved is the Arizona Coyotes, who traded the 34-year-old Dubnyk to Minnesota in 2015. Former Wild netminder Darcy Kuemper has been rumored to be on the trade block in Arizona, and the teams may be looking at some sort of double reunion.
The current back up goaltender in Minnesota is former Shark Alex Stalock. Technically, the tandem of Jones and Stalock brought the Sharks to the playoffs the year they went to the Cup Final. Maybe they’ll both do better in Minnesota?
Finally, the Sharks have looked into forward Ryan Donato, who has one year remaining at $1.9 million. At only 24 years old, Donato is a player type the San Jose has had an abundance of in the last few seasons: relatively young, shows promise, but produces at a bottom-six rate unless they’re stapled to Joe Thornton.
This far into his career, though, he hasn’t gotten much of a break in the big leagues, playing in just 130 games over parts of four seasons. After 14 goals last season in 62 games, he might be on the cusp of breaking out — and he’s cheap.
Again, might be someone to keep an eye on at the draft, but these two could be brewing up something big if you let your imagine run wild with this report.
Moving on up!
If you haven’t been obsessing over when exactly the Sharks are going to be drafting, you might not realize that the draft slot for two of their picks in the later rounds have been changed.
The official draft order was released by the NHL and while it was basically what everyone expected, a small shift happened where Washington and Colorado swapped spots. Because the NHL dropped the division winner criteria in creating the draft order, instead using just regular season points percentage, Washington moved ahead of Colorado.
The Sharks have Colorado’s second-round pick (now 56 overall) and the Capital’s seventh-round pick (now 210 overall). The second-round pick was obtained in the Brenden Dillon trade, while the seventh-rounder was part of a swap at last year’s draft.