New head coach, NHL Draft, free agency

The San Jose Sharks have a general manager in Mike Grier, officially hired on Tuesday, just two days ahead of the draft. They are still seeking a new head coach – and coaching staff – after letting Bob Bougher go at the end of last week.

Heading into the next week, aside from their future coach, the Sharks have four main things to think about. Grier said the draft and free agency would be the main focus for the next week in his introductory news conference, while they also have to think about their salary cap structure and their future beyond this season.


San Jose picks at No. 11 overall. Most mock drafts consider Frank Nazar, Kevin Korchinski, Brad Lambert and Jonathan Lekkerimaki as the most likely options.

Lekkerimaki is a Swedish right wing who had 15 points in six games for the U18 team at World Juniors. He is only 17 years old, and has been projected to go anywhere from the eighth pick to the 20th. Elite Prospects ranks his shot as the second best in the entire draft class.

Korchinski’s draft stock has risen after a strong showing with the Seattle Thunderbirds en route to a WHL Finals. The defenseman had 19 points in 25 games and ran point on the power play in the postseason. He was projected to go later in the first round before his playoff run that could have him on the radar much earlier.

Lambert was likely going to be a top-five pick if not for a rough year playing in Finland. He had a strong pair of games during the shortened World Junior championships, but against older players, struggled to gain a foothold. He can play wing and center, and has shown a strong playmaking ability before, so dropping his stock could be a blessing in disguise for the Sharks.

Nazar is a 5-foot-10 forward who can play both center and right wing and has been with the United States National Developmental Program. He is set to join a powerhouse Michigan team next season, where he can develop for a couple of years. The Sharks are thin at center depth in the future, and Nazar could set them up for a few years down the road.

Salary Cap

Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are all 32-plus and are a combined $ 26.5 million against the cap through 2025. Those three plus forwards Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture each have at least $ 7 million hits over the next three seasons.

The draft could be a time to move a contract as well, especially if they opt to recoup a few draft picks. They lost their second-round pick for Adin Hill during last year’s Seattle expansion draft, so perhaps someone like Burns could garner a return, or one of their three rostered goalies.

Out of James Reimer, Adin Hill, and Kaapo Kahkonen, at least one will be on a different team next season. Kahkonen is a restricted free agent, while Reimer and Hill are each projected to be a $ 2 million-plus cap hit over the next year before their respective deals expire. Reimer likely has the most trade value, and teams like Edmonton and Pittsburgh are worth calling to see if they are a match.

Radim Simek has two years left on a four-year, 2.25 million contract, but they would likely have to attach a draft pick to move him to a team looking to hit the salary-cap floor.

The buyout period also ends on July 12, where the Sharks could opt to dump Vlasic’s four years remaining on his eight-year, $ 56 million contract to save around $ 8.8 million over the next two years. Last year the Sharks waited until the last day to partake in the buyout period to buyout the last three years of goalie Martin Jones’ deal.

Then there is the whole Evander Kane situation. There is no date yet for his second grievance hearing with the San Jose Sharks, and it probably won’t happen before free agency on July 13. Kane was in the fourth season of a seven-year, 49 million deal with the Sharks when his The contract was terminated due to an alleged breach of COVID-19 protocols. He signed with the Oilers, who have said they hope to re-sign him. Depending on a ruling, the Sharks might end up carrying a cap hit. As of Grier’s hiring, they didn’t have any update.

“I look at it like salary arbitration,” assistant general manager Joe Will said last week. “Salary arbitration is a process that happens after free agency, and quite often, you just have to plan for an outcome you can’t predict.”

Without knowing how the Kane situation plays out, they have roughly 5.67 million in cap space to begin the offseason.

Free agency

San Jose scored just 211 goals last season, which ranked 30th in the NHL. The Sharks struggled to score in the two prior seasons as well, when they didn’t make the postseason either time.

They have $ 32,962,500 committed to seven forwards, including Couture and Hertl, and more than 33 million committed to four defensemen and two goalies. They have to decide what to offer restricted free agent defenseman Mario Ferraro, but there isn’t any reason to believe that won’t get resolved.

They need to find scoring, somewhere, though. Johnny Gaudreau and Filip Forsberg, the two biggest forward names on the market, are likely too expensive. Nazem Kadri has also likely put himself in that territory with his Cup Final performance with Colorado.

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