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Why Did Gambrell Cost Sharks So Much?



The San Jose Sharks have re-signed Dylan Gambrell.

Per Cap Friendly, the 24-year-old RFA has been inked to a one-year, $1.1 million dollar contract.

“Dylan appeared in his first full-time role last season with us and showed he is a reliable player,” San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson said in a press release. “He played in a lot of different situations and utilized his speed to be an effective player.”

Gambrell should fulfill the San Jose Sharks’ expansion draft exposure requirements: They must expose at least two eligible forwards, one eligible defenseman, and one eligible goalie to the Seattle Kraken.

Eligible forwards and defensemen must be under contract for the 2021-22 season and have played 27 or more NHL games last year or at least 54 games over the past two years.

The San Jose Sharks currently have just seven forwards on their roster who meet exposure requirements: Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, Kevin Labanc, Matt Nieto, and now, Gambrell.

San Jose Hockey Now projects that Couture, Kane, Meier, Hertl, and Labanc will be protected, along with unsigned RFA Rudolfs Balcers and prospect Jonathan Dahlen. That leaves Nieto and Gambrell to fulfill expansion requirements up front.

Defenseman Radim Simek and goaltender Martin Jones are the qualified players also expected to be exposed. Seattle may also opt to select unsigned RFA Ryan Donato.

Some are up at arms about Gambrell’s relative cost.

I agree it’s a little bit high, but I have a theory: Besides the aforementioned forwards, RFA Donato and UFAs Marcus Sorensen and Patrick Marleau were the Sharks’ only other qualified forwards.

Remember, if the Kraken pass, you’re stuck with the player.

Donato is coming off a $1.9 million dollar contract; since the San Jose Sharks are probably moving on from him, you don’t want to be on the hook for that if Seattle doesn’t choose him. Sorensen and Marleau also don’t appear to be in San Jose’s plans, and they may not want to be back either — in case you were thinking the Sharks could sign say Sorensen to the veteran’s minimum and bury him with the Barracuda.

Doug Wilson also could’ve swung a trade for a forward outside of the organization who meets exposure demands — like the Dylan Wells deal — but that would’ve cost something too.

So Gambrell had some leverage — you could’ve played hardball with him and shaved $100K or so off his contract if you sign him later — but that wouldn’t help you with this Saturday’s protection list.

You can also apply the same theory to Nieto: He signed for two years, $1.7 million. Perhaps that extra guaranteed year was Nieto’s reward for signing early?

Also relevant to Gambrell and Nieto: I don’t think the San Jose Sharks will mind if they’re back with the organization next year too. There’s a place for both, unlike Donato, Sorensen, and Marleau.

On the other hand, “mid-August” appears to be the deadline to re-sign Balcers — the surest sign that the San Jose Sharks intend to protect the winger i.e. there’s no rush to sign him so they can expose him by this Saturday.

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Over reaction to call this deal “horrible, senseless”. It doesn’t make much sense to evaluate cap $ based on percentages. 20% over payment sounds bad… but that means 200k in this case which is almost nothing. Paying your 4th line center 1.1 mil isn’t a problem.

david barnard

the only % i’m interested in is the % of total team cap per contract. when you think of a team with a good 4C, you might think St. Blues Zach Sanford. Sanford scored 10 goals and added 6 assists for 16 points (52 GP) this season. he’s coming off of a 2-yr deal that accounted for 1.84% of the team’s cap space (per year). Gambrell is now making 1.35% of the Sharks (yearly) cap space after a season where he scored 5 goals, and added 7 assists for 12 points (in 49 GP). Sanford had an off/down season in… Read more »

Last edited 11 months ago by david barnard
Eric Pichette

I agree with the above poster that fans are massively overreacting to this contract. It’s like 365k above league minimum for a player that can play fourth line C/W and kill penalties. And it’s not like the Sharks have a ton of prospects knocking on the door. Furthermore, it’s a 1 year deal for a player who I personally feel was miles better this past season than the season prior. If he improves even further, great. If not you move on next offseason when guys like Bordeleau, Chmelevski and Wiesblatt ect.. are in a better position to push for roster… Read more »

timorous me

I’m used to this kind of overreaction to things when reading about Arsenal, not the Sharks!

This is a really good, sensible explanation of things, Sheng, so thanks for putting that out there. The fact is, Gambrell wasn’t ready for a 3C role last year–maybe he grows into that eventually–but he could potentially be part of a good fourth line, which isn’t worth nothing. So like you said, even if he’s not taken by the Kraken, he could end up being a useful player for the Sharks, for this one year at this deal and beyond (on a different contract).

david barnard

Gambrell’s had more than his fair share of opportunity, as befitting a 2nd round draft pick. he has yet to live up to his pedigree. i used the above example of Zach Sanford in contract value as a % of team cap space. Sanford is 2 years older, and like Gambrell, a 2nd round draft pick. he hit 20 points in his age 24 NHL season, and 30 points in his age 25 season. he fell off this season at age 26. if Gambrell doesn’t hit the 20-30 points range this coming season, he’s a bust. DW is probably coming… Read more »

david barnard

DW shouldn’t be allowed to do contracts. he’s always overpaying. look at Simek’s contract and how it hurt their ability to get better FA’s last season. Wilson also said then he expected the team to “compete”. he needs 2 goalies and a 3rd line center with about 10M to spend. that’s IF he truly wants the team to be competitive. so, every little bit of wasted cap space DOES matter.


Therein lies the issue with immediate responses in the internet age. This has run rampant in my opinion. Sheng, thank you for offering deeper insight. It’s a bonus!!!

david barnard

let me clarify, i meant Simek+all the wasted piddling around he did bringing in spare parts. he could’ve used the total sum of that cap space and brought in 1 real player-a top 4D or whatever.

he’s always trying to plug holes with bandaids. this is “hope GM’ing”, and for someone whose said that playing “hope hockey” is a waste of time, i would think he’d take his own advice. sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and fix 1 thing at a time.

Last edited 11 months ago by david barnard

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david barnard

McCleod (23) extended with NJ for 2x$975k (1.20% of the cap). former 12th overall pick by NJ. he was their 4C this past season. 9+6=15 pts in 52 GP. i’m not sure why Gambrell hasn’t been able to put it together at the NHL level. he succeeded quite well at every other level (NCAA and AHL), putting up very respectable points. other news: Adam Raska has taken quite the leap in development in his 2nd season in the Q: 12+13=25 pts in 22 GP. 3+3=6 pts in 8 GP in the playoffs. not bad for the 201st overall pick in… Read more »

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