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Sharks buy-out final year of Rudolfs Balcers’ contract

The Latvian winger will hit the market on Wednesday as a free agent.

San Jose Sharks left wing Rudolfs Balcers (92) skates during a timeout during the NHL game between the San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks on March 26, 2022 at SAP Center in San Jose, CA. Photo by Matt Cohen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Roster shake-ups are coming and with free agency beginning on Wednesday morning, the San Jose Sharks will need to get creative with cap space. At yesterday’s deadline, general manager Mike Grier did not issue qualifying offers to eight restricted free agents. Earlier today, the club placed forward Rudolfs Balcers on waivers for the purpose of a contract buyout ahead of free agency.

Balcers, 25, had one year remaining on his contract, with a $1.55 million cap hit. Per CapFriendly, the buyout will cost the Sharks $8,334 in 2022-23 and $308,334 in 2023-24. Even against a flat cap, it’s a marginal cost.

Still, the move is a bit of a head-scratcher. Balcers had fairly positive underlying numbers and his point total last season (11 goals, 12 assists in 61 games) wasn’t terrible for a $1.55 million player. Players like Balcers aren’t what’s keeping the Sharks from being competitive.

“We want to thank Rudy for his time with the Sharks organization,” Grier told media earlier today. “While these are difficult decisions to make, this move will create additional cap flexibility and provide us an opportunity to continue evolving the make-up of our player roster.”

The Sharks initially drafted Balcers in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Draft, 142nd overall. He was traded to the Ottawa Senators as part of the package exchanged for defender Erik Karlsson in September 2018. Ahead of the delayed 2021 NHL season, the Senators placed Balcers on waivers, where he was claimed by the Sharks and rejoined San Jose.

The left-winger will be available as a free agent tomorrow.