Many big names have seen their contracts bought out this offseason, and as Mike Grier continues to turn over the San Jose Sharks roster, is it possible for the Sharks to add one of these big-name players to a short-term contract where they could look to reestablish their value on a team with plenty of holes to fill on its roster?
Larsson (31) is coming off his worst season in terms of production since his rookie season with the *checks notes* Phoenix Coyotes! He was bought out this offseason by the Vancouver Canucks after signing his 8-year $66 million contract with the Arizona Coyotes in the 2018 offseason and was promptly traded to Vancouver in 2021.
The verdict: The Sharks already have too many left-handed defensemen on the team and in their system, and Larsson no longer provides offense at the same clip we are accustomed to. Prospects like Henry Thrun and Shakir Mukhamadullin will need NHL time sooner rather than later. PASS
Nemeth (31) is also a left-handed defenseman who is big. He signed a three-year $7.5 million deal with the New York Rangers in 2021 and was traded to the Coyotes and the rest of their contract dumps for multiple draft picks.
The verdict: The Sharks have a ton of left-handed defensemen, and if OEL doesn’t fit, Nemeth is a bad option too. PASS
The 32-year-old winger scored two goals in 51 games for the Coyotes last season. Kassian signed a four-year $12.8 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers in 2020 and was traded to the Coyotes at the 2022 draft in a salary dump.
The verdict: No.
Bailey (33) is a left-handed shot that has long been a part of the New York Islanders’ core but had one of the worst seasons of his career. He was a healthy scratch down the stretch run for the Islanders as they made a playoff push. He signed a six-year $30 million deal with the Islanders in 2018 but was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks this draft for everyone’s favorite player. Future considerations.
The verdict: While Bailey could provide a bit of offense for the Sharks (who desperately need it), Bailey’s best days are behind him and would be more of a hindrance to the team as he would potentially block younger players like William Eklund, Jacob Peterson, and Thomas Bordeleau from getting much-needed ice time. PASS
Reilly (29) spent most of last season playing with the Providence Bruins and only played ten games in the NHL, where he had one assist. Reilly signed a three-year $9 million deal in 2021.
The verdict: In his last full season in the NHL, Reilly was still a plus defender and provided a bit of offense. The Sharks already have an issue with left-handed defensemen playing on their off-hand. If Reilly wasn’t happy about playing with the Providence Bruins, he probably isn’t going to want to play with the San Jose Barracuda in a Derrick Pouliot role. YES, BUT NO.
Yamamoto (24) has been an enigma for Edmonton Oilers fans. A short king at 5’8″, Yamamoto struggled to return from a concussion he occurred in the 2022 playoffs. Yamamoto scored only 25 points last year in 53 games but has been a 20-goal scorer previously. Last offseason, Yamamoto signed a two-year $6.2 million contract. He was traded to the Detroit Red Wings this week for future considerations.
The verdict: This is the exact reclamation project that Mike Grier should consider adding. He’s young, has shown that he can produce, and should be cheap. The Sharks have plenty of holes in the top six, with Eklund and Alexander Barabanov as the only players you can currently pencil in. Signing Yamamoto to a one-year deal and either flipping him at the trade deadline or re-signing him next offseason is the perfect example of the type of move the Sharks should do. YES!
Duchene (32) still is able to chip in offensively with a 40-goal season just as recently as the 2021-22 season and still scored 56 points last year for the Nashville Predators, which would have ranked third on the team. He signed a seven-year $56 million contract in 2019 as a free agent after bouncing around between the Colorado Avalanche, Ottawa Senators, and Columbus Blue Jackets. Duchene still had three seasons left on his contract prior to the buyout, and the Preds will be dealing with the cap ramifications through the 2028-29 season.
The verdict: While Duchene would provide some instant offense to the Sharks, the timelines do not fit. Duchene is entering that stage of his career where he wants to win, and the Sharks aren’t in that position. Also, the lack of country music in San Jose really puts a damper on it. Look for Duchene to latch on to a cup contender in need of a guy who can provide decent secondary scoring. PASS
Longtime Captain Blake Wheeler (36) probably knew his time was coming to end after having his captaincy stripped prior to the start of the season. Wheeler did put up 55 points on a Winnipeg Jets team that ranked 21st in scoring, but his time as a team’s top scoring threat is long gone. Wheeler signed a five-year $41.2 million contract extension in 2018 and had one season left on it prior to his buyout. The Jets will have him on his cap sheet for the next two years.
The verdict: While Wheeler would help the Sharks offensively, again, the timelines do not match. Wheeler would be a great fit on a contending team’s second or third line to add some scoring and potentially help their second power-play team. Expect the former Atlanta Thrasher to go ring-chasing this offseason. PASS
Most of the buyouts don’t make sense for a Sharks team that is no where near competing, with the exception of Kailer Yamamoto. Yamamoto is still young enough, and his value is low enough right now that he could very well be a potential buy-low candidate that could turn into a valuable asset for the Sharks going forward. If San Jose offered Yamamoto a one-year $2 million contract, that would allow him to reestablish his value on a team that is void of talent and then could dangle that contract to a contender at the trade deadline or see if Yamamoto is worth hanging on for the short term. He is the type of player worth taking a chance on on a short-term deal.