A potential Sharks reunion with Marleau?
The Toronto Maple Leafs traded Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday morning, clearing one big hurdle for the Sharks legend to potentially return to the organization he called home for 19 seasons.
Carolina, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, is expected to buy out the final season of the three-year, $18.75 million contract Marleau signed with the Maple Leafs on July 2, 2017. If that is the case, Marleau would then become an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with any NHL team.
NHL analyst Nick Kypreos mentioned earlier this week on Sportsnet radio in Toronto that Marleau wanted to return to San Jose. But Marleau’s salary cap hit of $6.25 million for the 2019-20 season made a direct trade from the Leafs to the Sharks prohibitive. A third team needed to get involved.
That turned out to be the Hurricanes, who can also try to convince Marleau to stay in Carolina. Barring that, though, they will buy out the final year of his deal but have to eat his entire $6.25 million cap hit for the upcoming season.
Perhaps that’s why Carolina was also able to get two draft choices from the Maple Leafs in the deal – a conditional firstround pick in the 2020 NHL
Draft and a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
If Marleau is bought out, that would allow another team, such as the Sharks, to sign him to a much more team-friendly contract.
It is still unknown whether the Sharks would be interested in a reunion with Marleau, who, when he left the Sharks two years ago, owned nearly every offensive record in Sharks history.
The Sharks have a cap hit of roughly $66.6 million for 15 players for next season, according to CapFriendly.com, and have several items remaining on their to-do list for this summer. That includes new contracts for pending restricted free agents Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc, and deciding what they want to do with captain and pending UFA Joe Pavelski.
Next year's salary cap, while not official, is expected to be either $81.5 or $82 million, according to multiple reports.
Marleau played 1,493 regular season games with the Sharks over 19 seasons, collecting 508 goals and 574 assists.
In two seasons with Toronto, Marleau had 43 goals and 41 assists in 164 regular season games as he averaged 16 minutes and 40 seconds of ice time per game.
Patrick Marleau of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks on against the Boston Bruins during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoff series at TD Garden in Boston on April 23.