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Sharks Can Target These 12 Possible Cap Casualties in Trade

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Credit: NHL

The San Jose Sharks need all the help that they can get, but they can’t bring just anybody in.

They’ll need to navigate the trade and free agency market this summer carefully.

San Jose, flush with over $30 million of cap space, could be in the market for another team’s cap dump.

But again, they shouldn’t be trading for just anybody. So who should they trade for?

There are three things that the Sharks need to keep in mind when they’re adding players this summer: Leadership, top-nine ability for a forward or top-four for a defenseman, and reasonable cost acquisition.

Leadership should be the No. 1 priority on San Jose’s shopping list this summer: You’ve got to bring in the right people around Will Smith and Macklin Celebrini. You should’ve done that last year for William Eklund and company. You want to re-establish a winning culture? This is how you start doing it, by putting winning influences around your kids.

Of course, the Sharks also need better players. They’ve got one top-nine center right now in Mikael Granlund — Logan Couture is hurt, while Celebrini and Smith are unproven. They don’t have enough competent two-way wingers. And they’ve got to push plucky Mario Ferraro down the line-up on defense.

Finally, it wouldn’t be wise for the Sharks to push in their chips this summer. So forget a big trade for a Mitch Marner or giving seven years to a UFA like Jake Guentzel. You don’t do something like that until you know what you’ve got in Celebrini and your prospects. So fast forward to next summer, say Celebrini and Smith have established themselves as top-six forwards, it’s a different ballgame.

But now? It’s still too early.

So how do the San Jose Sharks acquire veteran NHL talent and leadership for a good price?

Here are 12 players, seven forwards and five defensemen, in positional and alphabetical order, who might be on the move this summer because their teams could be looking for salary cap relief.

Which of these players fulfill the three things that the San Jose Sharks have to keep in mind this summer?

Cam Atkinson

Age: 35
Contract: $5.875 million AAV, 1 year left
Movement Clause: 10-Team NTC
2023-24 Time on Ice Per Game (Power Play/Penalty Kill): 15:57 (2:06/1:20)
2023-24 Stats: 70 games-13 goals-15 assists-28-points-27 penalty minutes

The heart-and-soul Philadelphia Flyers winger’s offensive peak is probably behind him, especially after missing all of 2022-23 with injury.

Patrik Laine

Age: 26
Contract: $8.7 million AAV, 2 years left
Movement Clause: 10-Team NTC
2023-24 Time on Ice Per Game (Power Play/Penalty Kill): 15:13 (2:52/0:01)
2023-24 Stats: 18-6-3-9-6

The Columbus Blue Jackets winger’s reputation, made in his 44-goal sophomore campaign, has suffered in the last half-decade. He can still score, but does he have anything else to his game?

Andrew Mangiapane

Age: 28
Contract: $5.8 million AAV, 1 year left
Movement Clause: 8-Team NTC
2023-24 Time on Ice Per Game (Power Play/Penalty Kill): 16:00 (1:10/0:43)
2023-24 Stats: 75-14-26-40-47

The Calgary Flames winger is two years removed from his breakout 35-goal campaign in 2021-22. He’s combined for just 31 goals over the last two years.

Ilya Mikheyev

Age: 29
Contract: $4.75 million AAV, 2 years left
Movement Clause: 12-Team NTC
2023-24 Time on Ice Per Game (Power Play/Penalty Kill): 14:16 (0:53/0:47)
2023-24 Stats: 78-11-20-31-4

After a hot start, the Vancouver Canucks winger struggled to score, potting just one goal in his last 61 regular season and playoff contests. He is a solid two-way forward.

J.G. Pageau

Age: 31
Contract: $5 million AAV, 2 years left
Movement Clause: 16-Team NTC
2023-24 Time on Ice Per Game (Power Play/Penalty Kill): 15:55 (1:31/1:54)
2023-24 Stats: 82-11-22-33-13

The New York Islanders alternate captain is a very reliable two-way center.

Brandon Saad

Age: 31
Contract: $4.5 million AAV, 2 years left
Movement Clause: Full NTC
2023-24 Time on Ice Per Game (Power Play/Penalty Kill): 15:30 (1:40/0:25)
2023-24 Stats: 82-26-16-42-20

The offensive-leaning St. Louis Blues winger can usually be counted on to score, surpassing 20 goals seven times.

Reilly Smith

Age: 33
Contract: $5 million AAV, 1 year left
Movement Clause: 8-Team NTC
2023-24 Time on Ice Per Game (Power Play/Penalty Kill): 16:08 (1:47/0:45)
2023-24 Stats: 76-13-27-40-18

The 2023 Stanley Cup winner was a disappointment for the Pittsburgh Penguins this year. But he’s a five-time 20-goal scorer who’s a reliable two-way winger.

Justin Faulk

Age: 32
Contract: $6.5 million AAV, 3 years left
Movement Clause: Full NTC
2023-24 Time on Ice Per Game (Power Play/Penalty Kill): 21:58 (1:49/1:32)
2023-24 Stats: 60-2-28-30-39

The Blues alternate captain struggled to score this season, but he’s reached double-digit goals six times, most recently in 2022-23.

Torey Krug

Age: 33
Contract: $6.5 million AAV, 3 years left
Movement Clause: Full NTC
2023-24 Time on Ice Per Game (Power Play/Penalty Kill): 21:58 (2:56/1:10)
2023-24 Stats: 77-4-35-39-32

The St.Louis offensive dynamo declined a trade to Philadelphia last off-season, so hard to say if he’d be willing to go to the San Jose Sharks. But at some point, a player probably grows tired of feeling unwanted.

Nick Leddy

Age: 33
Contract: $4 million AAV, 2 years left
Movement Clause: Full NTC
2023-24 Time on Ice Per Game (Power Play/Penalty Kill): 22:22 (0:08/2:38)
2023-24 Stats: 82-3-25-28-14

The smooth-skating blueliner is on a team-friendly contract, so the Blues might not be inclined to deal him.

Dmitry Orlov

Age: 32
Contract: $7.75 million AAV, 1 year left
Movement Clause: None
2023-24 Time on Ice Per Game (Power Play/Penalty Kill): 17:19 (0:29/0:53)
2023-24 Stats: 82-6-20-26-36

A solid all-around defenseman, the 2018 Stanley Cup winner is the only player on this list without any trade protection.

Jacob Trouba

Age: 30
Contract: $8 million AAV, 2 years left
Movement Clause: 15-Team NTC
2023-24 Time on Ice Per Game (Power Play/Penalty Kill): 21:15 (0:22/2:51)
2023-24 Stats: 69-3-19-22-73

Better known for his sometimes over-the-line physical presence, the New York Rangers captain is an underrated puck-mover, crossing the 30-point barrier four times in his career.

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