I was a little surprised when I saw the Sharks had re-signed Patrick Marleau (4 years/$6.9 million per).
Apparently I wasn’t the only one.
And that’s the thing about Marleau and San Jose. It’s always been a tortured relationship.
Marleau has averaged 26 goals and 57 poins per season during his Sharks career, solid enough numbers. Since 2005-06, he’s scored over 30 goals per season, except for 2007-08, when he struggled with just 19 goals.
But Marleau’s main role over the past few seasons in San Jose has been to be the subject of trade speculation.
It’s not that the Sharks have actively looked to trade Marleau (I’m assuming if they were actively looking they would have found a trade partner relatively easily) but more that they’ve often seemed open to the idea of trading him.
San Jose is in a strange situation. They have a fantastic core of players, including Marleau, but this core has had a tough time finding post-season success.
Logic says when something isn’t working, you try something else.
So the expiration of Marleau’s contract represented an opportunity for San Jose to clear some cap space and try something else.
But what to try?
There’s not a better center available via free agency. The Sharks aren’t particularly deep down the middle. Letting Marleau go might have created a gaping hole in the line-up, making a flawed team worse.
Plus, if Marleau left via free agency, the Sharks would get nothing for losing him.
So the Sharks had no choice but to re-sign Marleau. There simply wasn’t a better move (at least until the NHL embraces the NBA’s beloved sign-and-trade).
Marleau’s contract isn’t impossibly steep or long, so assuming he didn’t negotiate a no-trade clause, the Sharks still have some options.
They’re going to try and shore-up their goaltending by not re-signing Evgeni Nabokov. But more changes are going to need to be made to change the look and performance of this team.
A lof of NHL teams were preparing to extend contract offers to Marleau. The Sharks might be hoping some of those teams will now be open to the idea of extending a trade offer for Marleau, if not immediately, then sometime within the next four seasons.
Re-signing Marleau was a solid move for the Sharks, but as Marleau’s surprise indicates, the move seems to have come more out of a lack of better options than anything else.
Luckily for Marleau, the money’s still the same.