Devin Setoguchi signs three year deal worth $9.0 MM with San Jose

The San Jose Sharks have signed right winger Devin Setoguchi to a three year contract today. As per club policy financial terms of the deal have not yet been publicly disclosed, but Craig Custance is reporting via Twitter that the deal will be a $3.0 MM cap hit per season.

"Devin Setoguchi's deal with the Sharks is done- 3-years, $9 million," Custance tweeted.

Setoguchi's three year deal will keep him under contract until the 2014 offseason where he will become an unrestricted free agent with Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, and Dan Boyle, a notable list of core players to say the least.

With news that the salary cap limit will be $64.3 MM this season, San Jose now has $9.475 MM in cap space in order to sign four forwards and one defenseman. Three out of those forwards are of the fourth line variety however, and considering the fact that there are reports defenseman Ian White is unlikely to be re-signed by the club, Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson has a lot of money to work with heading into free agency in order to improve his hockey club.

As for Setoguchi, the compensation afforded to him is similar to the deals that both Joe Pavelski and Ryane Clowe earned once the organization's "Sign a cheap short-term deal when you become an RFA" contracts expired. The 24 year old winger has been plagued with inconsistency ever since his 31 goal breakout season in 2008-2009, posting 20 and 22 goal seasons in the years following, but has always shown flashes of breaking the 30 goal plateau once again.

Setoguchi got off to a rough start in 2010-2011 as well, scoring a mere two goals in his first twenty two games. After being bounced around the lineup and relegated to a third and fourth line role during portions of this period, Setoguchi eventually found his game and scored 15 goals, 13 assists, and 28 points in the last 33 games of the regular season. He took that momentum into the postseason, scoring seven goals and three assists in eighteen games with the Sharks.

"We feel Devin is an important part of our team and we look forward to him continuing to elevate his game to the level he is capable of," Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson said in a press release.

Setoguchi's speed and ability to go East-West with his skating is an asset that is quite rare on a team like San Jose that is predominantly filled with bigger players who prefer to play a slower, more methodical game. With opposing team's speed proving to be an issue for the organization in playoff losses to the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks, Setoguchi's assets in this area of the game are essential for the club's future success. And while the immense firepower the Sharks boast up front does not make it essential for him to carry the offensive load throughout an entire season, there is no doubt he has the potential to once again reach the 30 goal mark.

Finding that type of consistency has always been the issue for Setoguchi, and as anyone in the organization from Todd McLellan to Devin Setoguchi will tell you, that is the area he will need to improve on in 2011-2012 if he wishes to stay on the top line with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. For a young player who is beginning to approach his prime, the time is for that consistency to be fully realized is now.

The Sharks now head into the offseason with everything but a number two defenseman and a big minutes penalty killing forward under contract. With Setoguchi's contract in place, the offensive firepower up front has been solidified for the next three seasons.

For a team that is expected to compete for a Stanley Cup next season, Setoguchi's new contract is an excellent start.

Alas, it is only the beginning.