MONTREAL – Are Jonathan Dahlen’s days with the San Jose Sharks numbered?
A source has told San Jose Hockey Now that there’s a good chance that the Sharks will not issue a qualifying offer to the pending RFA. This would make the 24-year-old winger a UFA.
This isn’t final, though. San Jose has until 5 PM ET, Jul. 11 to qualify Dahlen and other RFAs like Mario Ferraro, Kaapo Kahkonen, Luke Kunin, Nicolas Meloche, and more.
At first glance, this doesn’t make much sense. Dahlen made the veteran’s minimum, and a qualifying offer would be just a five percent raise on that. But the winger has arbitration rights and could take the San Jose Sharks to arbitration – and the arbitrator’s award could be higher than what the Sharks would want to pay him.
It’s certainly hard to value Dahlen, as it was a tale of two seasons for him. The rookie got off to a torrid start, entering the Calder Trophy conversation with seven goals in his first 15 NHL games. But over the rest of the season, which was interrupted by multiple stints in COVID protocol, a concussion, two other upper-body injuries, and a few healthy scratches, the winger had just five goals and eight assists in his last 46 appearances.
Whatever the Sharks do with Dahlen, the picture that seems to be emerging is that the organization doesn’t necessarily believe in the young winger’s future as a top-six NHL forward. Unlike say fellow RFA Ferraro, it’s SJHN’s understanding that the Sharks have not, at any point this season or off-season, started extension talks with Dahlen. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the Sharks don’t want him around, but it does tell you that they don’t view the winger as a franchise cornerstone.
What could make sense for the Sharks is to qualify Dahlen and try to trade his rights to another NHL team. If they don’t end up qualifying him at all, you can guess that’s because other teams weren’t interested in the young winger and his arbitration rights. I can say, according to a non-San Jose team source, that there are NHL teams that rate RFA John Leonard with no arbitration rights higher than RFA Dahlen with arbitration rights. Leonard was just sent to the Nashville Predators with a 2023 third-round pick for Luke Kunin. All this is to say: Don’t assume that Dahlen has a lot of trade value around the league.
Another sensible alternative, if the San Jose Sharks did have hope in Dahlen, would be to sign the winger to a one-year contract at $1.125 million dollars or less, evaluate him in training camp, and bury his contract in the AHL if he doesn’t make the team out of camp. $1.125 million dollars is the maximum cap hit that you can bury in the minors in 2022-23.
We’ll see what new Sharks GM Mike Grier thinks of Dahlen soon enough.
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