San Jose Sharks sign Joel Ward, are now very clearly not rebuilding

Matt Larkin
Joel Ward. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

It sure seemed like the San Jose Sharks were poised to start a rebuild just a couple weeks ago. They’d missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002-03. They’d fired coach Todd McLellan. Goalie Antti Niemi was set to walk as an unrestricted free agent. Former captain Joe Thornton was publicly at odds with GM Doug Wilson. The Sharks even had their first top-10 draft selection since 2007, nabbing Timo Meier ninth overall. It all screamed turning over a new leaf.

But everything Wilson has done since last week’s draft suggests otherwise. Acquiring Martin Jones and signing him to a three-year extension worked whether San Jose was rebuilding or retooling, as Jones is only 25 and someone had to start in net for them in 2015-16. That said, getting him from Boston cost the Sharks a 2016 first-round pick and prospect Sean Kuraly.

Then came July 1 and defenseman Paul Martin signing at $19.4 million over four years. Friday, the next hammer dropped: right winger Joel Ward at $9.825 million over three years. Martin earns $4.85 million per season, and Ward’s cap hit is $3.275 million.

The message is clear: the Sharks refuse to roll over. Martin and Ward are both 34 and received multi-year commitments. It’s “win now,” or Wilson at least believes this team can win now.

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San Jose Sharks sign Paul Martin for four years, $19.4 million

Matt Larkin
Paul Martin. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Don’t be so sure the San Jose Sharks are set on a rebuild. Earlier this week they acquired goaltender Martin Jones from the Boston Bruins and signed him to an extension to be their starter. Wednesday, they kicked off free agency by signing veteran defenseman Paul Martin to a four-year, $19.4-million contract paying him $4.85 million annually.

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Martin Jones signs for three years, $9 million with San Jose Sharks

Jared Clinton
Martin Jones' numbers are unbelievable, but is he simply the product of his environment? (Getty Images)

Before the San Jose Sharks acquired netminder Martin Jones from the Boston Bruins, the club’s future between the pipes looked uncertain. Hours after trading for Jones, however, the Sharks shored up their goaltending situation for at least the next few seasons.

Tuesday evening the Sharks announced they have locked up the 25-year-old Jones to a three-year deal worth $9 million. The cap hit, a mere $3 million per season, all but solidifies the fact that the Sharks will look to Jones as their starter as early as next season. Jones’ price tag puts him at almost double the cap hit of the Sharks’ backup netminder, Alex Stalock, who was the frontrunner for the starting job had San Jose not gone out and acquired Jones.

“Martin was at the top of our list of players that we had targeted,” Sharks GM Doug Wilson said in a release by the club. “We’re extremely excited to have him on board.” Read more

CHL Import Draft: who is coming over?

Oliver Kylington (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The CHL’s Import Draft was held today, giving every major junior team on the continent a chance to pick up some prime European talent. Franchises are allowed to play two Euros on their roster, but no goaltenders. Teams that have a European player taken in the first round of the NHL can select a third player’s rights as well, in case the first-rounder ends up leaving.

With that out of the way, let’s look at how things went down. Consider this a non-comprehensive list, as I am cobbling together commitments or denials as I receive them from various sources in the industry.

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Sharks, Brenden Dillon agree to five-year, $16.35 million deal

Jared Clinton
Brenden Dillon (Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

The San Jose Sharks acquired Brenden Dillon from the Dallas Stars in November, and the 24-year-old defenseman has signed on to stay in the Bay Area for at least five more seasons.

According to reports from CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz and ESPN’s Katie Strang, the Sharks and Dillon have come to terms on a five-year contract extension that will carry an average cap hit of $3.27 million for the next half-decade. The salary for Dillon, reports Kurz, will increase each season beginning at $1.9 million for 2015-16 and culminating with a $3.9 million payday in both 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Before inking the deal, Dillon was set to become a restricted free agent, but inking a deal that will carry through to when the blueliner turns 29 means the Sharks paid for at least two years of potential unrestricted free agency for Dillon. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Blues’ Shattenkirk among surprising names in rumor mill

Kevin Shattenkirk (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Among the interesting rumors to emerge prior to the start of the 2015 NHL Draft weekend was the suggestion St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk could be available. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson noted the high payroll being taken up by Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester was behind the Shattenkirk speculation.

At the time, Matheson was wondering if the Blues could trade the 26-year-old Shattenkirk to the Edmonton Oilers for the 16th overall pick. That deal, of course, didn’t materialize, as the Oilers shipped that pick to the New York Islanders as part of a deal for young blueliner Griffin Reinhart. Still, Matheson’s conjecture could raise questions over Shattenkirk’s future with the Blues. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Kessel, Skinner, Sharp & Bieksa trade buzz

Phil Kessel (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The 2015 NHL draft saw its share of trade activity involving established NHL players. Among the notables to change teams were Dougie Hamilton (Boston to Calgary), Milan Lucic (Boston to Los Angeles), Ryan O’Reilly (Colorado to Buffalo) and Carl Hagelin (Rangers to Anaheim). Even the rights of all-but-retired defensemen Flyers Chris Pronger was moved as part of a swap that also saw Nicklas Grossman shipped from Philadelphia to Arizona for Sam Gagner.

Despite this unusually high volume of players traded, several others who’ve been frequent fixtures in the rumor mill remain on the market.

On Friday, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported multiple source claiming the Pens were interested in Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari reports Carolina Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner was on the Pens’ list of trade targets. Read more