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San Jose’s pending RFAs & UFAs

Mar 28, 2023; San Jose, California, USA; San Jose Sharks left winger Oskar Lindblom (23) looks to pass around Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo (2) during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

The chorus of The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” keeps running through my head as I write this. Specifically, the part that says, “If I go, there will be trouble. And if I stay, it will be double.” That’s how I feel about a lot of the San Jose Sharks players as we head into free agency.

Make no mistake—this was one of the worst seasons in Sharks’ history, and it feels like somewhere in there, the team has to have hit rock bottom. Right? So, if it’s time to build up from here, one of the first things you have to do is look at the pieces you currently have and decide if they should stay or go.

San Jose Sharks Pending UFAs 2024

The Sharks have eight pending unrestricted free agents on the roster. Some of them were acquired via trade. Most of the others are finishing out contracts signed by someone other than General Manager Mike Grier.

Kevin Labanc

Labanc just wrapped up the final season of his $4.725 million AAV contract. The season didn’t end well for the 28-year-old, who lost his coach’s confidence early in the season and never gained it back. Labanc spent a good deal of time in the press box this season, finishing with just 46 games played despite being relatively healthy.

Both sides agree that it’s time for Labanc to find a fresh start somewhere other than San Jose and Grier confirmed in his end of the year news conference that Labanc will hit free agency.

Mike Hoffman

Hoffman was acquired via that three-team trade that sent Erik Karlsson to the Pittsburgh Penguins last summer. On July 1, his $4.5 million AAV contract will come off the books. Like Labanc, Hoffman doesn’t have the confidence of the coaching staff though it took a little longer for him to lose it. Recently, he’s spent more time in the press box than in the Sharks lineup.

Grier has confirmed that Hoffman will hit free agency on July 1.

Alexander Barabanov

Barabanov’s injury-riddled season did not help do him any favors in this contract year. He played just 47 games this season and wasn’t 100% in some of the games that he did play. Barabanov’s opinion of playing with the Sharks seemed to sour sometime during the season. It didn’t get any better when the team failed to move him at the trade deadline.

Both sides agree that it’s time for him to look for a new opportunity with another team. He will hit free agency in July.

Justin Bailey

Bailey was a Barracuda signing who turned into a Sharks player when he was called into action because of injuries. He may have been one of the better surprises for the Sharks this season. We’ll examine it in our season player reviews, but Bailey was a responsible defensive forward with speed and offensive upside.

He’s worth another contract, especially if it’s a two-way deal.

Ryan Carpenter

When Carpenter signed a two-way deal in the summer, I initially believed that he would be a good captain for the San Jose Barracuda. However, like Bailey, injuries forced San Jose’s management to call Carpenter up to the Sharks, and his play with the team solidified his position as a reliable fourth-line center.

Provided another team doesn’t give him a look, it’d be nice to see Carpenter back in teal next season, maybe on another two-way deal that would allow him to return to the Barracuda to guide the young players.

Jacob MacDonald

MacDonald was a great utility player for the Sharks, moving from forward to defenseman as the team needed. He was more potent on offense than some of the other players on the Sharks this season but also fairly expendable. There was a point just before the trade deadline where he was sent down to the Barracuda and no one claimed him off of waivers.

While the Sharks might like the utility of MacDonald, it’s too tempting to use him instead of giving a younger player a chance. Hopefully, San Jose chooses not to renew simply to allow younger defensemen to earn their spots on the team.

Oskar Lindblom

Everyone in the league wanted it to work out for Lindblom, but sadly, it hasn’t. He spent this season playing for the Barracuda, though he was called up for one game with the Sharks in a pinch. Given the young players the Sharks would like to develop instead, it’s hard to see Lindblom sticking with the Barracuda next season.

This is likely his last season in teal.

Devin Cooley

The trade for Devin Cooley was a low-risk, high-reward play and made for a good story of bringing a local kid home. Cooley wasn’t overly impressive in the first few games he played for the Sharks this season, but that one game against Seattle was crazy good.

He’s good insurance for the Sharks, who have really built up the goaltending depth in the past few seasons. While Vitek Vanecek is the presumed backup for Mackenzie Blackwood next season, there’s no telling if the Sharks will need someone to fill in until Vanecek is up to game speed. Cooley could be that someone, especially if the Sharks think Magnus Chrona, Eetu Makiniemi or Georgi Romanov need another year of seasoning in the AHL.

Cooley would be a good addition to San Jose’s goaltending depth chart and should be re-signed.

Sharks Restricted Free Agents 2024

The Sharks also have a handful of restricted free agents that management needs to make decisions on. These are younger players that need to find a role in the Sharks’ vision of the future. For many of these players, the price tag is going to be a big deal. If it’s a low enough number, it would be easy to see the Sharks keeping the player. However, if the price tag is above $2 million, it’s hard to see most of these RFA’s sticking around with the Sharks.

Luke Kunin

Of course, we’ll kick things off with the exception. Kunin was signed to a $2.75 million AAV deal two summers ago by GM Grier and will likely get a slight raise in the offseason. The Sharks have liked the leadership that Kunin brings on and off the ice. Handing him the “A” has only solidified that he will be a part of the Sharks’ culture moving forward.

While Kunin is playing above his skill level in the lineup, it’s clear that the coaching staff trusts his game. At 26, he’s considered one of the “veterans” in the room. It’s hard to see any scenario where the Sharks don’t sign him to a new deal, possibly one with a two- to three-year term for something in the $3 million AAV ballpark.

Filip Zadina

Zadina came to the Sharks looking for a fresh start, and while it hasn’t always been sunshine and roses, it looks like the forward has appreciated the opportunities provided to him by the Sharks. Given his numbers, 23 points including 13 goals in 72 games, it’s hard to see a lot of teams chasing after Zadina in the offseason.

That said, the Sharks might welcome him back if the price is similar to what he signed in the summer. $1.1 million AAV or a slight raise from that is all Zadina is likely to get from the Sharks or another NHL team.

Ty Emberson

Unfortunately, injury issues kept Emberson to just 30 games played this season, but in the games he played, he appeared to be an impactful defenseman. Emberson was a solid pickup off the waiver wire, and pairing him with a more offensively-minded defenseman might do wonders for the Sharks’ defense as a whole. He’s worth another contract.

Calen Addison

The Sharks traded a fifth-round pick and prospect, Adam Raska, for Addison in the fall, and it’s hard to make a verdict on the deal. Addison was supposed to be a solution for the Sharks on the power play, but he never really claimed that spot with his play. What’s more, his defense has fallen drastically as well.

A lot of this has to do with the transition from a defensively sound team to one that’s…well, not so much. But Addison’s individual efforts and game impact have not been anything to write home about either.

That said, he’s a right-shot defenseman, which isn’t the easiest thing to come by in the league currently. At best, the Sharks can sign him to another contract and then hope to get something in a trade as the Sharks’ roster evolves due to trades and development.

Brandon Coe

Coe has had two full seasons to take that next step in his development with the Barracuda and he hasn’t yet. He’ll turn 23 in December, so there’s still time for him to develop into a bottom-six NHL forward.

It will be worth it for the Sharks to sign Coe to another two-year deal, but with just 17 points in 55 games in the AHL this season, Coe’s runway to prove he belongs in the NHL is getting shorter and shorter.

Jacob Peterson

When the Sharks originally traded for Peterson, it looked like the team had found a scoring forward who just needed the chance to claim a role with an NHL team. However, after receiving an opportunity to prove that he deserved a roster spot with the Sharks in the preseason, Peterson was sent down to the Barracuda. He’s done little to prove that he deserves another shot.

The almost 25-year-old Peterson has 22 points in 40 games with the Barracuda, which doesn’t project well if he were called up to the Sharks. It looks like he may have hit his ceiling, and if the Sharks need to make some room on the Barracuda roster for young prospects, it might be time to let Peterson look for an opportunity elsewhere.

Jack Studnicka

In December, the Sharks traded Nick Cicek and a sixth-round pick to the Vancouver Canucks for Studnicka. The center was expected to fill a depth center role on a team that was desperately in need of it. Studnicka got nine games with the Sharks before he was sent down to the Barracuda. He never really seemed to take charge enough to claim that center role from Carpenter or Nico Sturm.

Studnicka was recalled in early April but continues to only have a so-so effect on the Sharks. He’s become more defensively sound, though he’s not providing a lot of offensive upside.

If the Sharks choose to re-sign him, it will have to be a short deal one or two year deal. There are some solid centers and forwards working their way through the Sharks system and at this point, it’s hard to say that Studnicka is miles above any of them.

Eetu Makiniemi

Makiniemi continues to struggle with health issues, keeping him from playing another complete season with the Barracuda. In the last three seasons, he has played 18 games, 22 games and 18 games. In the interim, Chrona has stepped forward and looks to have usurped Makiniemi as the next up in the Sharks’ goaltending depth chart. Romanov is also at their heels.

That said, Makiniemi still looks to have some of the qualities a team would like to see in a goaltender. At 6-foot-2, 185 lbs., Makiniemi has the body type that teams look for in a goaltender. He has three shutouts and a .900 save percentage, which isn’t bad for a goalie who has spent half the season dealing with injury. He just turned 25, so there may be concern that he’s hit his ceiling, but if the Sharks can get one or two more years out of a contract, it might be worth it to see what Makiniemi can do with a healthy season.

Thomas Bordeleau

Yes. Absolutely, yes. Bordeleau deserves another contract, and the Sharks will give it to him.

Henry Thrun

I want to believe in Thrun, I really do, but this season feels like a regression in his development. Maybe a summer to reset, watch tape and think about the game will help Thrun find a new level. While Thrun has proven that he can play NHL games, right now he’s a borderline sixth or seventh defenseman facing light competition.

With some offseason development, he can turn that around. He was a bad defenseman on a bad defensive team. He’s still young — he just turned 23 in March — and he has some room to develop his game in the NHL.

Thrun deserves another look and with a one- to two-year contract, the Sharks can give him an opportunity to develop before deciding if he fits into the team’s plans for the future.


Looking at the Sharks’ UFAs and RFAs, only a few players deserve another contract this summer. The rest will likely play in a color other than teal next season.

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