I do enjoy it when big lurching behemoths spend themselves into a Cap-22. However, looking at San Jose's cap figures for next year, I don't see any kind of crisis. Unlike Chicago, who has to choose among several variations of hideous roster moves, the Sharks basically have the option of staying pat, provided that they manage to do the following things:
- Re-sign Evgeni Nabokov at $3MM (50% of current cap hit). He will be 35 this contract, so there's no cap relief if SJS want to buy him out. Plan B: sign someone cheaper (e.g. Marty Turco).
- Re-sign Rob Blake at $2MM (50% of current cap hit). Assuming he or anyone thinks he has anything left in the tank. I think he'll want to stay on for another year and will take what they offer. Plan B: pick-up a crusty old UFA defenseman for even less money than that.
- Re-sign Patrick Marleau to a front-loaded long-term deal than pays him more than he's getting now (in salary) for a few years, but which gives the Sharks a net savings in cap-hit. Somewhere around $5.5MM cap hit (which is down slightly from $6.3MM). Plan B: let Lombardi sign him and watch Marleau kill you several times a year for several more years as you rebuild.
- Re-sign RFAs Devin Setoguchi and Joe Pavelski to contracts with a cap hit that totals (for the two of them, added together) no more than $6MM per year. Make it $3.2MM and $2.8MM, or whatever, I don't care. But these guys are getting raises and it seems doable to me (an outsider who nothings nothing) at those prices.
- The rest of the roster is filled out with ELCs and other minimum wagers.
I cap-geeked these moves and plugged in any old names for the $500-$900K contracts. You can sub in or out anyone you please. And it looks something like this:
The Sharks end up with essentially exactly the same team as 2009-2010. With under a million in cap space. That's workable. Now, there's a whole other conversation to have about what they should do, whether they should stick with these guys, who, as Kukla's Korner said this weekend, "have shown that they know how to almost win," or embrace a vision of the future that involves losing Marleau, upgrading (or downsizing the salary of) their goaltending, trading Joe Thornton, trading Dany Heatley (whose stock has to be up from last summer; they could flip him and get themselves a nice return; me, I would keep him), or any other rebuilding model you care to consider.
Bottom line: I'm sad to report the cap will not force them to do something painful and stupid. But that doesn't stop them from being stupid all on their own. One can dream.