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REACTION: Balcers Bought Out, Vlasic Stays With Sharks



Credit: AP Photo

The off-season’s first buyout period has ended with a surprise buyout from the San Jose Sharks.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, as a recent report from The Athletic pointed to, was not bought out.

REPORT: Vlasic Doesn’t Think He’ll Be Bought Out

Instead, Rudolfs Balcers was waived for the purpose of a buyout. Because the 25-year-old winger is under 26 years, the Sharks will only owe him one thirds of his remaining salary. Balcers had just one year at $1.55 million dollars left on his contract.

The buyout will extend two years, but the San Jose Sharks will take on just an $8,334 cap hit in 2022-23 and a $308,334 hit in 2023-24.

Another team can also claim Balcers off waivers by tomorrow, taking the Sharks completely off the hook for his salary.

Balcers was a San Jose 2015 fifth-round pick who was sent to the Ottawa Senators as part of the Erik Karlsson deal in Sept. 2018. The Sharks claimed Balcers off waivers before the beginning of the 2020-21 season, and the winger provided surprise top-nine minutes for his original NHL club, totaling 19 goals and 21 assists in 102 games in teal.

That said, Balcers appeared to plateau a little bit this past season.

Season Review: Balcers Coming Into Make-Or-Break Year

An NHL scout from an outside organization told San Jose Hockey Now recently (and presciently): “I actually see [Balcers] as a little bit of what’s wrong with the Sharks. Not necessarily him as a player. But I think they fall too in love with their guys. Like they prioritize the fact that he came from them, getting him back on waivers, instead of simply getting a better player instead.

“Right now, on a championship-caliber team, he’s a fourth-liner.”

Of course, there’s a new sheriff in town in GM Mike Grier.

I suspect that the San Jose Sharks think they can re-apply Balcers’s cap savings toward a better player in the free agency market. This year’s UFA class, buoyed by a flat cap, and consequently, a number of surprise RFAs who were not qualified (therefore becoming UFAs), promises to be a buyer’s market for the middle class of NHL free agents. The Johnny Gaudreaus will get paid, but it could be a bargain bazaar for third-liners.

We’ll see, that’s just my educated guess.

The Sharks obviously need all the cap space possible:

I will say that I was more surprised by buying out Balcers than not qualifying Jonathan Dahlen. While Balcers was not a consistent, finished product, I do think he had the tools to be that “tenacious, highly competitive, in-your-face, fast, hard to play against” player that Grier wants on his roster.

As for why the San Jose Sharks didn’t buy out Vlasic, it’s understandable. They’re not in a “win now” mode, and the penalty, a $21.25 million cap penalty spread out over eight years on the salary cap, was pernicious.

I’ll get into it some other time, but my initial reaction, this is a clear sign that the San Jose Sharks are straddling the fence next year, they’re trying to win but not that hard, which is what Doug Wilson did for the last two off-seasons.

There is a second buyout period, but it’s only triggered by very specific circumstances:

RFAs Kaapo Kahkonen and Luke Kunin can take the San Jose Sharks to arbitration.

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