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REACTION: Balcers Bought Out, Vlasic Stays With Sharks

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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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KE

Thank goodness 😅 I didn’t get a Rudy jersey! Probably best to get one with no name or number on the back.

david barnard

okay, so according to your scout Rudy’s a “4th liner on a championship team”. here’s J.T. Compher, a 4th liner on a championship team, comparison. i think Rudy’s slightly better, tbh, but i guess the comment from your scout isn’t that far beyond reality. the thing is the Sharks are so far from being a “championship caliber team” that the value you get from having a player like Rudy on THIS version of the Sharks was good. and now that he’s not there for a paltry $1.55M who replaces him? whose going to provide you the 2-way play at THAT… Read more »

Screenshot 2022-07-12 at 13-03-28 Evolving-Hockey.com RAPM Charts.png
KE

I believe they must have saw someone on the RFA’ list that didn’t get signed that they want – like a right D?

I wonder what is going to happen to Eklund and Bordeleau- not big guys. They best put on some weight and get to work. Noah won’t be there long if he doesn’t start putting the puck in the net.

I hope LaBanc has a great year. But he might be gone before I finish typing this comment

Barnswallow

Top two lines are something like:
Meier – Hertl – Barabanov
Kunin – Couture – Lebanc

I could see them just throwing the rookies out there to see how they fair and to grow together
Eklund – Bordeleau – Wiesblatt

That leaves the 4th line for some combination of
Bonino, Chmlelevski, Gregor, Reedy, Nieto, Weatherby, Viel

At that point Balcer’s salary is better spent on a defensemen.

david barnard

Eklund will play with either Hertl or Couture in top 6. to play him anywhere else would be a serious misuse of him.

Meier-Hertl-Barabanov
Eklund-Couture-Kunin
Gregor-Bordeleau-Labanc
Nieto-Reedy-Bonino
Gadjovich

or something similar. i’ve got a trade on my Armchair GM roster for Puljujarvi, who would slot in the middle 6 RW spot as an example if something else happens in FA. i think KL’s days are numbered with this team with Grier in charge.

Wayne Newton

I’m not necessarily a fan of Compher, but he played a lot of 3rd line center minutes this year, even into the playoffs to some degree. He was over 16mins a night this year, which is well over what a 4th liner who also pks plays. He’s filled in on many lines though. He does take a lot of faceoffs and Balcers takes maybe 10 a year. Can you see the breakdown of his minutes this year anywhere? He also got bumped up to 2nd line center when Kadri was injured during the playoffs but was mostly used as a… Read more »

david barnard

they played comparable TOI at even strength. zone starts were comparable. Balcers was the 7th most used (all situations) F for the Sharks logging 15 mins a night. Balcers logged 1.1mins per game on the PK. he did not log a “significant presence” on the PP per McCurdy’s data. Compher was also the 7th most used F (all situations) for COL, averaging 16.3 mins per game. Compher logged 1.5 mins per game on the PK and 1.7 mins. on the PP. deployment for Compher was mostly as a #4-8 F, mostly against bottom 6 F and bottom pair D comp.… Read more »

Bob D

They didn’t fall in love with their players as much as they are just egotistical and in love with themselves, consistently going against conventional wisdom and thinking they’re so clever with their picks. Balcers was exhibit A in this behavior, claiming him back off waivers still trying to prove to everyone they were right in drafting him. This is why Burke also needs to go. Same thing with all of their ridiculous contracts, screwing the org for YEARS to come because they drafted all these players, so they must great (except Burns and Karlsson, and castoff Thornton, who they expertly… Read more »

amon_amarth

Are you a sharks fan, or just a downer? Because you make these un-knowable claims about the last few years drafts, which only time will tell, and then you go off on how upset you are by basically every decision the sharks have made in recent memory. Don’t get me wrong the sharks have plenty to be accountable for, but there are positives to look at sometimes as well.

david barnard

he sounds like a STH who just woke up to the realization the Sharks execs have been playing fast and loose with the truth. “doing whatever they can” to get competitive again would’ve meant buying out MEV, and Joe Will wasn’t going to do that (neither will Grier because they’re doing a REBUILD, lol!). a MEV b/o was the signal indicator (for me) that they were serious about winning this season. don’t believe for a second that this is all because Grier came on board. again, Will was NEVER going to do that (go back to SP’s interview with him… Read more »

tedb

The Sharks should have given several high draft picks AND ANY third or fourth liner to anyone who would take Vlasik and his salary. He is the albatross that keeps this team losing. When the Barracuda players “took over” for several weeks last season, we almost looked like a playoff hockey team. Draft picks aren’t needed. Without ridding ourselves of Vlasik at any cost, it’s useless trying to win with that loser ruining and poisoning the energy and spirit of the team. Take the blades off his skates. Put him on IR. Just keep him off the ice.

Zeke

Sheng nails this at the end. “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.” I used the phrase “hedged bet” at one point, and “reset to nowhere” before the start of last season. “Straddling the fence” is another way to say it. It is inexcusable to be at the same point with the same sort of thinking 3 straight mediocre seasons. The Sharks can stay in this place almost indefinitely. The fans, though,… Read more »

david barnard

yes, i’m a SW nerd!

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