Report: Niclas Wallin signs with Luleå Hockeyförening in Sweden

According to a report by Hockeysverige, Sharks defenseman Niclas Wallin has signed a contract to play with Luleå HF of the Swedish Elite League. Uffe Bodin is reporting that Wallin will be Captain of the club next season as well.

Here is a copy of the report:

The catalog has been hoped, at length. Now the dream recruitement of reverse hysteris Niclas Wallin finally a reality. After more than 600 NHL games for the Carolina Hurricanes and the San Jose Sharks, leaving 36-year-old North America and returns home to Sweden and will be captain for Lulea Hockey which he represented during the lockout season 2004/05.

>> (via Google Translate)

Wallin's NHL status was brought into question last season when reports surfaced that he had signed a contract to return to his home country. However, the breadth and scope of today's news is much wider than it was a year ago, making this announcement much more reliable. Lulea's main site has an article up on the acquisition as well.

As we mentioned last week, Wallin was a player who was overpaid but did provide some value for the team in a lower pairing role. His veteran presence in the locker room was positive for San Jose during his time here, and the Hamburgers meme which took off was nothing short of spectacular. However, with some rather disappointing defensive metrics for a player who was relied upon for his prowess in his own zone, Wallin's return to San Jose was questionable:

All that being said, there is very little here that indicates Wallin will be receiving a contract offer this offseason, let alone one in the $2.0 MM+ range. As of today the Sharks have four legitimate NHL defenseman under contract-- Dan Boyle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Jason Demers, and Douglas Murray. There is no real rush to shore up the backend with Justin Braun waiting in the wings, especially with an Ian White contract still in the negotiation process.

My expectation is Wallin will be kept in consideration throughout the offseason but is unlikely to be retained. If he is signed, expect it to come after July 1st when all other options have been considered, with compensation around the $1.25 MM range.

>> UFA of The Day: Niclas Wallin

In terms of offseason plans, this doesn't change much for San Jose. A defensive depth defenseman, serving as the sixth man or a healthy scratch, may be acquired in order to shore up the Sharks defensive depth, but that type of acquisition can come after the initial weeks of free agency when these types of players become excellent bargain finds.