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Sharks Bring Back Marleau, Nieto



Matt Nieto, Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks
Credit: howsmyliving (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Many happy returns?

The San Jose Sharks are bringing back wingers Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto, both for one year, $700K each.

“Matt’s a player we’re obviously familiar with having been here for our Stanley Cup Final run in 2016 and he plays with speed and energy,” San Jose Sharks Doug Wilson said in a press release. “His quickness and defensive responsibility made him one of the top penalty killers on Colorado and we feel that those assets, along with his decision making and playmaking, will bring a lot of elements to our team.”

In fact, the 27-year-old was the most-used Colorado Avalanche forward on the league’s 13th-best penalty kill.

Last week, San Jose Hockey Now broke that the San Jose Sharks had inquired about Michael Grabner. Like Grabner, Nieto is a speedy penalty-killing specialist — “elements” that Wilson was clearly looking to add to his team:

What I’m Hearing About Sharks on Day 1 of Free Agency

Speaking of speed…

“Patrick is one of the most iconic players in San Jose Sharks history, as well as being one of the most respected veterans in the National Hockey League,” Wilson noted. “The leadership he brings on and off the ice has been well documented over his fantastic NHL career and his competitive fire to win is still burning strong. Patrick’s lead-by-example demeanor is inspiring and continues to resonate with our group of younger players.”

The 41-year-old acquitted himself well in San Jose this season, playing well enough off a veteran’s minimum two-way contract to fetch the Sharks a third-round pick at the Trade Deadline. A source confirmed to SJHN that Marleau’s contract is a one-way deal this time around.

The San Jose Sharks would be thrilled if Marleau could replicate his play in teal next year. The future Hall of Famer is also 45 games away from breaking Gordie Howe’s record for all-time games played.

So will the Sharks add more players this off-season?

For starters, Joe Thornton remains unsigned and Wilson has already suggested that they’re looking for a veteran bottom-pairing defenseman.

Currently, per Puckpedia, San Jose has 15 forwards on their roster.

Both Lean Bergmann and Noah Gregor, who are still on their entry-level contracts, are waiver-exempt. Meanwhile, Antti Suomela, who isn’t waiver-exempt, is not a favorite for the opening night roster.

That leaves 12 forwards I’d project to make the opening night roster, if you include Dylan Gambrell and Joel Kellman — both not waiver-exempt.

Assuming that the San Jose Sharks add a near-minimum vet defender, they still have about $3.5 million dollars of cap space to add a Thornton and/or another forward.

If they, as Erik Fowle suggested this morning, dump Marcus Sorensen’s $1.5 million dollar cap hit, that’ll open up even more space.

Marleau and Nieto don’t move the needle much, but they’re both still very competent fourth-liners who can swing up to third-line duty.

We’ll see if Wilson has anything more up his sleeve this off-season.

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